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Minister Boot's Statement on COVID-19 - 26 April 2020

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Good afternoon and thank you for joining me today. I have with me Julie Edge the Chairperson of Isle of Man Post Office who will update you on the Post Office’s launch of an excellent set of stamps as well today.

I would like to first update you on our latest Covid-19 statistics:

  • The total number of tests undertaken stands at 2854
  • The total number of concluded tests stands at 2824
  • The number of people awaiting results is 30 and there are 59 people awaiting tests.
  • The total number of cases testing positive is 308 that means there have been NO new cases since yesterday’s update
  • The presumed recovered now stands at 247
  • The number of Covid related deaths remains 18, with 13 of those in the community and 5 in hospital.

As you can understand I am not able to answer any detailed questions on the testing regime and what the future testing requirements will look like.

Any questions surround the figures, or the testing need to be answered by the professionals within the Health service who are dealing with this on a day-to-day basis and are in a better place to answer your questions.

However, on this note I would like to personally say how proud I am to see as an Island we are clapping on a Thursday evening in support of our key health workers.

Their total dedication in getting us, the Island’s residents through this, and supporting the most vulnerable at this time must make us all proud to live on the Isle of Man – Thank you.

On Friday we saw the first of the closed sectors go back to work, yes there was some trepidation voiced via social media when this was announced, however I want to highlight today how my Department will both support and enforce the guidance for social distancing in the construction sector.

The Isle of Man Government HAS provided clear guidance for construction website – hopefully, you can see the link on the screen.

Go to and search ‘guidance for construction sites’

The guidance clearly sets out how to implement social distancing on a site, how to minimise public contact such as ensuring the sites gates are always CLOSED and manned by personnel from the site and every person attempting entry to the site is to be stopped and questioned to determine if site access can be permitted.

Guidance for the employees, needs to be erected on site notice boards along with the relevant Health & Safety and public health information pertaining to the CoVid 19 disease – this is a MUST do and I would ask that all site managers ensure that this has happened.

Construction businesses must also follow the staff welfare provisions that are published on the CoVid 19 website, this is for the safety of all employees on a site, the guidance also describes what to do if an employee falls ill whilst on site.

I would ask all the construction sector to read these guidelines which are published on the Isle of Man Government’s Covid website.

As some of you will be aware, my Department operates the DEFA work safe helpline – the number is 686520 and is being shown on the screen.

The helpline is there for ANYONE within any business who wants advice or to seek reassurance that their company is correctly practicing social distancing.

The helpline will provide guidance to the sector and its employees, and if need be, will send out officers from the Health & Safety Inspectorate to investigate any serious complaints.

The number again: 686520

I know that you may have concerns that you have to return to work and in some cases that you may feel you have been forced to return to work,

If you have any questions or concerns regarding returning to work, the Manx Industrial Relations Service can help – their number is 672942

This weekend we have seen some glorious weather, however, please, PLEASE think - do you need to go out? We have come so far to get to this stage, so please let’s all continue to play our part.

As a government we have said that you can leave your house, but please only if it’s essential, I know the amenity sites and bottle banks are beginning to open across the island, and people are wanting to travel further and carry out more outside activities, but now is not the time to disregard the social distancing rules. Each of us behaving sensibly will save lives – it remains that serious!

Please remember: you cannot visit other people or have gatherings involving people from outside your household EVEN if you stay 2 metres apart.

The fine, sunny weather has tempted people to go outside more – which is to be expected.

But the rules on social distancing remain the same!

Please DON’T go visiting other people for BBQs, birthday parties or general visits.  The police are aware of an increase in people from one household calling on another household – but the message is: this is still NOT allowed.

We are seeing more and more people visiting the Island’s glens and plantations. Instead of visiting the glen that you usually do, why not explore the glen or plantations closer to home, we don’t just have South Barrule, Conrhenny or Laxey, we have 18 mountain and costal glens, try visiting the one closest to you and please remember to social distance.

I would make one plea, if you are walking across farmland, please remember that our farmers also work here FEEDING THE NATION, every time you open a gate, climb a stile, walk through a farm yard, the farmer and their family are working here.

We need to protect our key food producers at this time, please instead look at out glens, beaches or plantations, help protect our Island’s food by protecting our farmers.

Over the last few days, the Community support helpline has received numerous calls, asking what activities can I do?

Only non-competitive sports and activities which are solitary or involve household members are allowed - for example; cycling on the road is OK, but not road racing or cycling in groups.

Fishing has been raised a number of times

The Council of Ministers considered fishing as part of a whole question regarding sporting activities, at this point it is not felt that it is the right moment to allow fishing nor to open sporting grounds and facilities.

I know some have asked about kayaking, abseiling, climbing.  I ask you to think what happens if you get into trouble - it could take up to 30 people to get you out of the emergency! How do they social distance?

Please don’t be selfish by putting these 30 people at risk, because of your choice of exercise.

Finally, on a lighter note, I know the retailers have seen a busy Friday and Saturday as many received their pay cheques, and again I would like to thank these key workers for supporting local food producers and for helping my Department in their decision making,

My thanks to go to, Andy, Neil, Ross, Kenny, Janna, Des & Chris who are a few of our retailers keeping our island fed.

I would now like to hand over to Julie Edge, Chair of Isle of Man Post Office who is going to tell us about a new set of stamps which capture the spirit of the Manx community in facing the challenges coronavirus has brought us.

Now onto the Shouts outs:

  1. At yesterday’s briefing Laurence Skelly spoke about the importance of the hospitality sector.  We have had a couple of nominations for the island's club and bar DJ's who have been doing livestream DJ sets, making sure everyone who is staying at home can enjoy the 'weekend feel' from the comfort of their own homes.  One nomination singled out Alex Harris of Gig Mann for keeping live music events going throughout lockdown and bringing new live acts to Island audiences as well as supporting local musicians.
  1. We had a nomination for Brenda Moore who has been delivering fruit and veg boxes all over the Island – well done Brenda.
  1. Finally I would like to personally give a shout out to all those across the public service and in business who are working so hard to ensure we all have as much normality as possible.

Thank you for what you and your teams are doing.


Why cannot we fish

As mentioned in my speech the council of ministers considered fishing as part of a whole question regarding sporting activities, at this point it is not felt that it is the right moment to allow fishing as well as open sporting grounds and facilities.

Why can’t I climb, kayak?

It could take up top 30 people to get you out of the emergency, how do they social distance, are you putting these 30 people at risk for your exercise. Please think before doing these activities

What regulations currently stop me doing these activities

There are several relevant regulations which are relevant, however, please can I remind you how individual’s choices whether fair or not can cause considerable risk for the emergency and volunteer services, who selflessly turn out again and again, at real personal risk – please do the right thing.

Why cannot Estate Agents open

The current guidance for moving house is on the CoVid 19 website, you should NOT allow any visitors into your home at this time. Please follow the guidance on the website, this has been written to support our islands fight against this disease.

Why isn’t the guidance good enough?

The guidance is always being updated, and as we understand more about the disease the guidance will be updated. I know it is frustrating if the answer to your question is not in the guidance, I would ask you to contact the community support line and if they questions that cannot be answered by the guidance, they will get an answer and come back to you.

Ice Cream and coffee shops, can they open?

The guidance allows supermarkets and food shops, whilst closing restaurants, cafes and bars - however you have to ask yourself if your visit to any food shop is essential and the products you are wanting to purchase are they essential now at this time to you and your family and their health. Unfortunately with the best social distancing in the world, every time you touch the same surface as an infected person, you risk contamination – is that risk worth it?

Can fishing boats go out of 12nm limit and then return to island?

Yes – If a local fishing vessel in an Isle of Man port is crewed by residents of the Isle of Man exits the territorial waters of the Isle of Man in order to fish and then re-enters the territorial waters and returns to an Isle of man port, that is acceptable – provided they have not berthed or landed elsewhere.

Why am I forced to work?

You are not being forced to work, there is clear guidance on the CoVid 19 website, and the Manx Industrial Relations Service is available to help with your query


Why cannot I work

I understand how frustrating it is if your business is classed as non-essential, but to limit the spread of the disease the Isle of Man government had to reinforce social distancing and minimise avoidable contacts, so this meant closing certain sectors.

Where will I find the draft guidance on public or public service use of face masks – this would be reactive only

This is an area which has mixed support, however, local guidance will be available imminently and can already be found on the World Health Organisation site.

As mentioned at the beginning of today’s briefing any health questions would be better answered by the professional who will have a considered and professional view on the wearing of masks.

I understand that people are wanting an answer however I would respectfully remind you it would be inappropriate of me to answer this question due to the technical aspects.


UK retailers are sending testing kits to the employees is the Manx government going to start testing key workers such as retailers?

As mentioned at the beginning of today’s briefing any health questions would be better answered by the professionals who will have a considered and professional view, however on Island - we are testing everyone with symptoms of COVID-19 (including people with mild symptoms in the community).  This is different to UK where testing is only routinely offered to people admitted to hospital with severe respiratory illness/pneumonia.  This means that retail staff (and any other member of the public) will already have been able to access testing if they have symptoms.  They access the test through the online assessment tool and call to 111.