Individuals are being encouraged to take lateral flow tests before Christmas parties, which will help to enable events to go ahead safely, and to help minimise disruption to hospitality businesses this festive period.
As we approach the Christmas period, it is expected that social activity will increase, and household mixing will become the norm at Christmas parties and social gatherings both in and out of the home.
Residents are reminded to follow these increased personal steps to stay safe and smart this Christmas:
- Take an LFD test twice a week to regularly monitor your COVID status
- Take an LFD test before you attend social events and gatherings, where the chance of transmission could be higher (this includes when visiting friends or family who may be vulnerable)
- Take up the COVID and flu vaccinations and booster when you are offered them – this may be earlier than previously anticipated and provides the greatest defence we have against COVID-19
- Wear a face covering when you’re in indoor public spaces
- Continue to ventilate homes and work places well – socialise outdoors or in ventilated spaces when you can
- Always stay at home if you are unwell or if you have COVID symptoms - isolate immediately and book a PCR test.
Government guidance that came into place at 4am yesterday (Tuesday 30th November) recommends that anyone attending an event, gathering or busy venue with heavy mixing, should take a Lateral Flow test before leaving home. If positive, you must isolate at home and book a PCR test.
It also details some settings where face coverings are expected to be worn (including schools, retail outlets and other public places where people may be unable to avoid attending) and others where they are mandated – such as on public transport and in health and care settings.
Face coverings are not specifically required in hospitality settings, due to the nature of these businesses, but will be a matter of personal choice.
By working together to take all possible steps, the Council of Ministers hope that we can find a balance between mitigating the increased risk, whilst allowing Island life to continue as close to normal as possible.
Minister for Enterprise, Dr Alex Allinson MHK, said:
“The Island’s residents and businesses have worked so hard over the past 18 months to support each other and overcome the challenges of COVID-19. We very much want everyone to enjoy the Christmas season this year, to be able to spend time with their loved ones, and for events and parties to go ahead as planned.
“Clearly, the Omicron variant does potentially pose a risk, and we will need to monitor the situation carefully over the coming days and weeks, but if we all take responsible personal steps now, hopefully we will all have the enjoyable festive season we want, with our friends and family. Our message is not about staying at home or missing out on celebrations – it is about doing so safely and in an informed way.
“I would ask everyone to please help support our hardworking hospitality, retail, lifestyle and leisure sectors this year by following public health guidance and choosing to ‘know before you go’ this Christmas. This is the single biggest way we can help to safeguard the business continuity for these sectors.”
Minister for Health and Social Care, Lawrie Hooper MHK added:
“Lateral Flow tests have proven to be very effective in identifying cases of COVID-19 here in the Isle of Man, and they also provide a convenient and quick method of self-testing, due to the fact they can be taken in the comfort of your own home.
"We are grateful to businesses for the way in which they have adapted to this weeks increased guidance and we hope that these further steps will help to provide them with greater opportunity to stay open this Christmas”
Event organisers and hosts are also encouraged to promote the use of Lateral Flow tests to their audiences and attendees. Specific guidance for these businesses is available online at www.gov.im/covid19
Lateral Flow Tests are available free of charge online, or from pharmacies Island-wide.
Taking a Lateral Flow test takes less than 2 minutes, and provides results within 30 minutes. It is recommended that you test around one hour before leaving the house.
If the LFD test is positive, you should isolate and book a PCR test either online at www.gov.im/covid19 or by calling 111.
The Economic Recovery Group, which considers the Economic impact of the pandemic and the availability of support as a result, will be meeting to assess the current situation later on today (Wednesday).