In a move which has divided public opinion and will put the Island’s Covid-19 testing regime under scrutiny, the ban on non-essential travel was lifted following a States debate, allowing free movement in and out of Jersey.
The first cohort of travellers passed through the Airport’s arrivals hall at 8.45am, following a British Airways flight from Heathrow carrying 128 passengers.
A further 125 people boarded the return flight out of Jersey an hour later.
An easyJet flight with 185 passengers from Gatwick was due in at 8.10pm on the same day, while Condor was expected to run a crossing between Jersey and Poole.
Taking account of the ‘lifeline’ services operated by Blue Islands to Southampton, a total of 804 passengers were due to pass through the Airport.
A spokesman for Jersey Airport reported that the Covid testing process for the first commercial flight appeared to have gone smoothly.
During June, a pilot testing scheme screened more than 1,000 arrivals on the essential-travel flights, with none testing positive.
Under the new arrangements, anyone travelling to Jersey, including Islanders returning home, is required to complete an online form detailing their travel history during the previous 14 days and providing information on their health.
They will then have three choices on arrival – either take a test, produce evidence of a negative test taken within the past 72 hours, or self-isolate for 14 days.
During the States debate this week, backbenchers warned that they would hold ministers to account if Jersey, which currently has one known active case, suffered another outbreak following the reopening of borders.
But Dr Susan Turnbull, Jersey’s Medical Officer of Health, said she had confidence in the travel arrangements.
‘We are talking about managing a very low risk, and driving that down even further by only allowing asymptomatic people to travel, requiring everyone to wear masks during travel and then testing everyone who doesn’t opt for 14-day quarantine,’ she said.
Currently, tests are sent to the UK and although some are received back the following day, others take longer.
‘Work is in place to have on-Island testing stations at the Airport and Harbour that will give results within 12 hours, so it will be much shorter within weeks but the test is as robust and reliable as it can be.
‘People are being advised, until they get a negative result, not to lock themselves away but just to be extra careful and keep extra distance, avoid crowded situations, ideally stay more outdoors than indoors – follow the guidance plus-plus,’ said Dr Turnbull.