Social distancing ignored at ‘hotspots’ for gatherings

‘HOTSPOTS’ for gatherings have already begun to emerge after lockdown rules were relaxed, and Islanders are being warned they need to be more vigilant in the fight against Covid-19.

St Catherine's Breakwater was extremely busy over the weekend. Many people were observing social-distancing, but some weren't           Picture: PETER MOURANT. (28254236)
St Catherine's Breakwater was extremely busy over the weekend. Many people were observing social-distancing, but some weren't Picture: PETER MOURANT. (28254236)

On Friday, Chief Minister John Le Fondré announced that some lockdown restrictions were being eased, with Islanders now allowed out of their homes for four hours rather than two, and for any recreational activity.

Under the new guidance people can also meet up with two people they do not live with, but physical-distancing guidelines remain in place.

But large numbers of people have been seen abandoning social-distancing guidelines, while the police have confirmed that ‘hotspots’ have begun to surface in the south-east of the Island and will be patrolled regularly.

Over the weekend 91 premises were visited, with 98 stop checks carried out. Seventeen vehicles were stopped, 87 visits were made to parks and beaches by officers and words of advice were given on 39 occasions, but no arrests were made.

The government has also clarified that over-65s and those with less severe medical conditions can benefit from the latest lockdown measures. However, it is still the case that anyone considered to be ‘extremely vulnerable’ is encouraged to continue to shield themselves from the risk of infection by staying at home.

Police chief Robin Smith said: ‘Again, we’ve seen Islanders playing their part, with high levels of compliance to the revised restrictions.

‘We are closely monitoring and responding to the changing policing environment, which is likely to include some additional operational activity over the coming weeks.

‘As we look forward to the forthcoming Liberation weekend, I just ask Islanders to remain mindful that restrictions have eased, not ended, and to continue to comply with the rules for the benefit of the Island as a whole.’

Meanwhile, St Martin Deputy Steve Luce has urged people to stay vigilant after increasing numbers of people were spotted on St Catherine’s Breakwater in St Martin.

He said that despite it being nice for Islanders to enjoy a little bit more freedom, now was the time to be more careful than ever, with Jersey a long way from being out of the woods.

He said: ‘I was delighted to see people out and about and enjoying themselves but I think people need to be aware there is still a concern of catching the virus and now they need to be even more vigilant than ever with the new rules coming in.

‘It is good for people to have a little bit more freedom with the four hours, but they need to be obeyed.

‘People need to remember we are a long, long way away from being out of the woods, and social distancing and wearing masks still needs to be taken seriously.’

The government have confirmed that the first round of antibody testing has begun and results will be made publicly available once results have bee analysed.

The Island is still in stage four of its lockdown measures. However, further restrictions are set to be eased on Monday 12 May, which is when the stay-at-home order is lifted completely, and people can go outside for as long as they want.

Guernsey has now published its extensive exit strategy outlining how and when it will move through the stages.

The jurisdiction is currently in stage two and the plan sets out phases up to six, which will be the final phase, when a vaccine is found or Covid no longer poses a serious threat.

Phase three will see more businesses open but only when community transmission is stable.

Hospital admissions will need to be down and there will have to have been no unexplained community transmission for eight weeks before phase four, which involves opening retail businesses and gyms, comes into force.

Phase five will then see normal activities resumed, such as bars open and sport resuming, but only after further weeks of no unexplained transmissions and a drop in hospital admissions.

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