January 28, 2022

First with the Alderney News

Restrictions eased on some travel to UK as pathway to Phase 6 is outlined

5 min read

Dr Nicola Brink

Travel to the UK without mandatory isolation on return to the Bailiwick is to be permitted on compassionate grounds, for healthcare appointments and for day return business trips, subject to certain criteria.

The Bailiwick has had no new positive cases of COVID-19 since 30 April 2020, and has now been in Phase 5 of the Exit from Lockdown Framework for 3 weeks.

In view of the fact that we have moved through the phases of the framework quicker than expected, work has commenced to provide Islanders with information on how we will move safely to Phase 6 – the Bailiwick’s return to the global community.

The key priority for Phase 6 is to establish safe entry and exit at our borders whilst we continue to plan for the Bailiwick’s response to the following scenarios:

  •   Planning for the re-emergence of a single case or the re-emergence of a cluster of cases which cannot be effectively contained by test, track and trace.
  •   A second wave of COVID-19 in the Bailiwick.
  •   Winter planning for normal winter influenza which may be complicated by a second wave of COVID-19. At its meeting yesterday, the Civil Contingencies Authority agreed that the following measures be introduced immediately, while plans are developed that would allow travel to the Bailiwick without the need for mandatory isolation, towards the end of this summer:
  •   A set of criteria has been established for travel on compassionate grounds. Individuals are asked to contact Public Health at publichealth@gov.gg for a risk assessment of their request and advice.
  •   A set of criteria has been established for health related travel for critical and time- bound treatment. Individuals are asked to contact the Medical Director through population@gov.gg for advice. For clarity this does not automatically apply to all travel to the UK for off-island appointments and treatment.
  •   The introduction of Business Tunnels – Initially, essential business travel in a ‘business tunnel’ will be strictly limited to same day return travel only. This type of travel will be facilitated without the need for mandatory self-isolation, provided it is carried out in a controlled environment in accordance with a method statement. The

risk of COVID-19 transmission in a business tunnel is mitigated by a series of strict compliance measures.

The CCA will consider the exact requirements that visitors and businesses will need to adhere to, under Law, during next week. A date for commencement of the Business Tunnels initiative will be announced shortly.

 The establishment of air and sea bridges with other jurisdictions between jurisdictions of comparable transmission, border controls and robust testing and contact tracing capabilities. Work is ongoing to establish suitable jurisdictions.

Deputy Heidi Soulsby, President of the Committee for Health & Social Care said:

‘We have always said that moving through the planned phases of lockdown is not without risk. Our priority has always been to minimise the risk to the community and to be open and transparent about our plans.

The fact we have no known cases in the Bailiwick is not making us complacent but we do know that our extended testing scheme has not identified asymptomatic cases in the community. This gives us some reassurance that the community is continuing to practice good hygiene measures, respiratory etiquette and social distancing where possible.

Whilst certain restrictions have been placed on our borders, they have not been totally closed at any time as from day 1 we have needed to allow essential workers to travel to the Bailiwick. Restrictions have been flexed as we have moved through the various phases.

We know that opening the Bailiwick borders to free travel, without mandatory quarantine, will cause concern to some members of the community whilst other members are desperate for us to open up as soon as possible.

Working with Dr Brink and Public Health Services we have assessed the data on COVID-19 collected on-Island, along with data from other jurisdictions, to put together a safe and managed plan to open up our borders in a controlled fashion.’

Director of Public Health, Dr Nicola Brink said:

‘Today is the last day of the pilot scheme which will enable travellers into the Bailiwick to self-isolate with a test on day 7 and release from day 8 subject to a negative result with passive surveillance. The first day 7 swabs will be taken tomorrow – Saturday 11th July.

However, in the meantime, we have recommended a series of measures are introduced sooner for the benefit of the community.

From a Public health perspective, we are anticipating moving to the further easing of travel restrictions later in the autumn, as long as we can be confident of the prevalence of infection in our neighbouring jurisdictions.

However, it is really important that we diagnose cases of COVID-19. So I would ask that anyone who has any symptoms, however mild, to come forward to be tested. By doing do we will not only be able to provide the appropriate support and care to that person, but, if a person is diagnosed with COVID-19, we will then be able to prevent on-going infection in our community through our track and trace system. This system has been highly effective in the Bailiwick, as evidenced by the lack of new positive cases since the 30th April.’

Deputy Gavin St Pier, Chair of the Civil Contingencies Authority said:

As I have said before, it is in all our interests to exit from lockdown as quickly and as safely as we can.

We are in a strong position with regard to COVID-19 which has enabled an air bridge to be established with the Isle of Man, which has proven to be extremely popular with both Islands. This initiative has allowed 1,000 visitors from the Isle of Man to enjoy our island and benefit our visitor economy. We have also been able to introduce the pilot scheme with a test on day 7 after arrival.

Again, as we have said before, we cannot stay in fortress Guernsey or fortress Bailiwick until we have a vaccine. It is because of this that the CCA agreed yesterday to introduce a series of measures immediately, based on a full appraisal of any risks, for the benefit of the community.

We know people will have mixed emotions about these decisions and I can reassure the community that these are considered, evidenced decisions and I would ask the community to continue to trust us. If we see positive cases occurring as these measures are introduced they should not panic. Dr Brink and her team are now experienced with ‘test, track and trace’ and have the resources and skills to manage individual cases or clusters of a certain size without the need to push back to an earlier phase.’

For further detail on instances where travel and from the UK can be permitted without requirement to self isolate on return, clink on the following link:

https://covid19.gov.gg/sites/default/files/2020-07/Phase%206%20Detail.pdf

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