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Chamber calls for borders to reopen to help the economy

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JERSEY’S Chamber of Commerce has called on the government to take faster and more decisive action to reopen borders and restart the visitor traffic on which the Island’s economy depends.

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With new cases of Covid-19 slowing down, the chamber believes the time is right to take the next step in boosting the economy.

Earlier this week Chief Minister John Le Fondré said it was still hoped that borders could open early in July.

Daphne East, chairwoman of the chamber’s retail and supply committee, said that the visitor economy was worth £280 million per year and was vital to both the retail and supply sectors.

‘Local wholesalers rely heavily on vibrant hospitality sectors through the summer season and retailers rely on the visitors to purchase local gifts and food supplies in addition to shopping in our independent outlets,’ she said.

‘Without a summer season, we will see additional pressure on wholesale to make it through the bleak winter, and retailers will struggle with reduced footfall from off-Island.’

Chamber president Jennifer Carnegie said she understood the frustrations of businesses with ‘the seemingly slow pace of decision-making, given the tiny number of cases in the Island’.

For the sixth consecutive day, no new cases of Covid-19 were reported yesterday, with the number of active cases remaining at five.

However, Economic Development Minister Lyndon Farnham has defended the government’s action to support businesses during the pandemic, saying that ministers had ‘consistently made clear our commitment to supporting Island businesses across all industry sectors during the pandemic, including the hospitality and retail sectors’.

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Senator Farnham added: ‘We have moved quickly to allow Islanders to safely access the services provided by these sectors, and our economic recovery strategy remains the highest priority at ministerial meetings and in the new Economic Council, of which the chamber president is a member.

‘The government continues to take account of the interests of all Islanders, including those who have been shielding and have ongoing concerns about the health impacts of Covid-19 and the reopening of our borders.

‘We have already undertaken a comprehensive trial at Jersey Airport to introduce a testing regime on arrival, supported by track and trace, and this will pave the way for the opening of our ports in a manner that continues to protect our Island, while sustaining our valuable visitor economy.’

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