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Chief Minister: ‘Lockdown may come – but not yet’

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A UK-STYLE lockdown of Jersey could be implemented in the coming weeks or months to tackle the spread of coronavirus – but those stringent measures are not needed yet, according to the Chief Minister.

Chief Minister John Le Fondré (27664789)

On Monday, the UK followed a host of other nations in introducing an almost complete lockdown of the nation, after scores of people flouted social-distancing guidelines. Guernsey introduced similar measures overnight on Tuesday.

That has led to increased calls for Jersey to do the same, with Deputy Chief Minister Lyndon Farnham saying he felt Jersey needed to make this step.

But at a press conference on Tuesday, Chief Minister John Le Fondré and Health Minister Richard Renouf stopped short of ordering a lockdown.

The Chief Minister said: ‘We are prepared to take all the steps that might be necessary. These may not be at the same time as the UK, but we are prepared to go further to shield vulnerable Islanders and if necessary asking Islanders to make a huge sacrifice and collectively self-isolate for a period.

‘Those actions will be based on data and medical advice and means we could see further action in days and weeks.’

The Chief Minister, who said tighter measures could come in after the weekend, added: ‘We do not yet need to go to UK measures at this time.

‘Self-isolation is a tool in our armour, one of a number and we will only deploy it when the time is right, at this time going to the full measures of the UK is not the right time based on the profile of Jersey.’

Also at the press conference, the Medical Officer for Health, Dr Ivan Muscat, explained that the government was talking to a number of manufacturers to bring as many test kits as possible to the Island, but there was a huge demand worldwide, which was affecting their ability to do this.

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He also said data was continuing to build so Jersey could tailor its model to the ongoing situation and data in two weeks’ time would show whether social-distancing measures had been effective.

Director of Strategy Steve Skelton added that as data began to grow Jersey could benchmark where it was compared to other nations.

Deputy Renouf has also urged Islanders to stick to social-distancing rules, which on Tuesday were increased to two metres, adding: ‘We are at a crucial stage of our response. We must pay close attention to how well we adhere to social-distancing rules. We have seen in the UK that where they are not followed, much stricter measures follow.

‘We still have the chance to ensure social distancing in Jersey is effective and reduces pressure on the health service.

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‘Stay at home wherever you can, plan to reduce social contact by 75%. You have the power and we we have the power.’

Earlier on Tuesday further business closures were extended to the likes of gyms, spas, massage facilities, museums and galleries, cinemas and betting shops.

On businesses, the Chief Minister was asked about grants to help in the current crisis rather than loans. He said: ‘I won’t go into exact details but nothing is off the table. We are committed to supporting businesses and we do need to come out of this at the end of this period.’

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