Good afternoon, everyone.
I will shortly be joined by Cheryl Brew from Ramsey Bakery to talk about some of the challenges that the Island’s food and agriculture sector are rising to at this difficult time. However, I would first like to give you the latest testing figures.
Since the last update yesterday at 4pm, there have been NO further confirmed positive tests for coronavirus, taking the overall total confirmed cases in the Isle of Man to 190.
178 patients have been instructed to self-isolate and 11 are being treated at Noble’s Hospital.
There have been 1753 concluded tests and 134 people are awaiting results.
The number of individuals who are presumed recovered from the virus is 100.
To everyone who is in Noble’s Hospital or recovering at home, I wish you a speedy recovery.
The Covid-19 pandemic is continuing to have a significant impact on all our lives.
This situation is not standing still – and neither are we. As a Government and a public service, we are doing everything within our power to keep people safe.
But we also need your help.
As we enter the Easter holidays, I want to stress the importance of social distancing and remaining vigilant at all times.
The weather may be improving, but this deadly virus is continuing to spread.
We must not let our guard down.
Please… Save lives. Stay at home.
As the Minister for the Environment, Food and Agriculture I always take the opportunity to champion the Island’s Biosphere status.
We are rightly famous for our beautiful countryside, stunning coastline and the diversity and quality of our food industry.
And there has certainly never been a better time to buy local and support our Island farmers, fishermen and producers.
Easter is traditionally a time to indulge our taste buds and sample the very best seafood, lamb and hot cross buns that the Island has to offer.
I will shortly invite Cheryl from Ramsey Bakery to highlight the important work taking place to keep our nation supplied with outstanding home-grown food.
First, in respect of another vital part of my Department’s remit, I must emphasise the need to enjoy our outdoor spaces responsibly.
Our Island boasts spectacular glens and plantations, rolling hills, and magnificent beaches.
We are fortunate to live in such a beautiful place.
But the message at this time is crystal clear. Only leave your home for essential travel.
If you do go out to exercise, stay local and remember to keep at least two metres away from other people at all times. Do not gather in groups under any circumstances.
This week, DEFA officers have reported full carparks at Conrhenny, South Barrule and Archallagan plantations.
This is a concern, as an influx of people will make social distancing more difficult.
We recognise the need to excise, but please explore the areas closer to home. Do not jump in your car to travel a beauty spot that is several miles away.
Self-discipline will be key this Easter and in the weeks ahead. Any signs of complacency will aid the spread of Covid-19, overwhelm our health service and ultimately cost lives.
Ask yourself the question: ‘Do I need to make this journey?’
If travel is not essential, then do the right thing and stay at home.
Stay at home… and treat yourself to a lovely meal.
Many people enjoy fish on Friday, so why not take some time to search Facebook or Instagram and see the local skippers and processors advertising freshly-caught fish, scallops, lobsters and crabs.
Don’t forget… a lot of these businesses can deliver to your doorstep.
Another traditional favourite at Easter is the hot cross bun, and Cheryl is here with me today to explain how Ramsey Bakery is ensuring a plentiful supply reach our supermarket shelves, along with bread, cakes and pies.
I cannot talk about hot cross buns without mentioning Laxey Glen Mills. The team has been working extra shifts to ensure enough flour is available for all our bakeries and supermarkets at this critical time.
Manx lamb will also feature on main people’s shopping lists this weekend. And after speaking to Isle of Man Meats, I know they have enough lamb available to satisfy demand.
On a more general note, my Department continues to work closely with the Island’s retailers and I can reassure people that there is enough food for everyone.
There is no need to panic buy or stockpile. Please think of others and only purchase what you need. Buy local wherever possible to support Island businesses.
It may take a little longer to do your food shopping at the moment, but it is important to note that there is resilience in the supply chain. We are able to feed our nation, now and into the future.
I want to take this opportunity to personally thank all those who are stepping up to support the Island in these unprecedented times.
To the farmers, the fishermen, the food producers and the retailers… you have my utmost gratitude.
I would now like to hand over to Cheryl to provide an insight into the work that is taking place across the local food sector.
I would like to round off today’s media briefing with shout-outs to some of our community heroes.
- The first shout out today goes to the Manx Missile, Mark Cavendish who has donated 60 boxes of food from Robinson’s to be delivered at random to households around the Island this weekend. His key messages are Happy Easter and asking residents to stay at home, and stay safe. What a lovely idea from a local cyclist that is globally known! Thank you.
- Next shout out is The Big Table Café in Peel – this long established café has been providing freshly cooked hot meals to anyone that needed it with surplus donations being given to other charities. While the café is closed the team of volunteers have adapted and are delivering meals to socially isolated. A number of volunteers prepare, cook and deliver where needed. Well done to the Big Table Café which is part of the Peel Cathedral organisation.
- Another charity making a difference during these difficult times is Living at Home – working hard to support the work of the Department of Health and Social Care – the team and its volunteer network are working flat out providing accessible information, advice, support and a friendly voice to maintain connections for those isolated and alone. This shout out should also include all carers who are living at home with someone disabled, elderly, medically or physically vulnerable. We know this is a difficult time for all.
- Lastly, a big shout out to everyone that clapped or played an instrument for our healthcare professionals last night – it was touching to see some many people showing their appreciation across the island including the Ben my Chree sounding it’s horn, bagpipes being played and the isle of Man Fire and Rescue service (red watch) sounding sirens and clapping outside Douglas fire station.
Thank you to Cheryl and to our friends in the media.
I would like to round off today’s media briefing with a reminder that the Covid-19 testing figures for the Isle of Man will be updated at 4pm today.
Enjoy the holiday weekend.
Save lives. Stay at home.