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New rules on Covid testing for arrivals

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PASSENGERS arriving in the Island will be subject to extra regulations – with people required to self-isolate straight away if coronavirus testing is not available.

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Deputy John Young’s proposition to bring in extra rules at the borders was passed by the States Assembly yesterday.

Concerns have been raised about policies put in place since the Island reopened its borders earlier this month.

Coronavirus testing is available at the Island’s ports but only those who refuse to take a PCR test are told to self-isolate.

The Environment Minister said he had proposed new regulations because the previous plan to open the borders had been prepared in just five days.

He said: ‘This is to complement what the government put forward previously.

‘Although I voted against that, it was not on the principal of it but the detail of it.

‘There is a need for people to get off the rock, and I know the plans were brought forward very fast because of concerns we would lose our airlines.

‘It meant the proposals were worked up in just five days and Scrutiny had a very, very short time to do its work.

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‘Immediately after, we had two positive cases in two days and unfortunately, on day three, we had the situation where passengers were not tested, and it has been accepted that will not happen again.’

The government announced a review of testing arrangements after 21 people were not tested on disembarking from the Commodore Clipper service last week.

Deputy Young’s proposition stated that if the testing capacity at the border was full, those who opted to receive a PCR test should be placed in isolation until such time as a test could be carried out.

Under the new rules, those entering from amber- and red-category countries will be required to self-isolate in the accommodation which they declared on their pre-registration form for the stipulated timeframe.

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People will be directed to travel straight to their accommodation and the Health Minister will issue guidance to bus and private-transport providers on safe arrangements.

The proposition also called for the Health Minister to issue safe guidance to accommodation operators. Those required to self-isolate are not allowed to visit care homes or hospitals.

The new rules will be put in place for six weeks and may be renewed by the Health Minister if he feels an extension is appropriate.

Chief Minister John Le Fondré said: ‘We have had a travel policy in operation for two weeks now and 3,000 passengers have come into the Island.

‘Only a handful of cases, all asymptomatic, have been appropriately traced and they are all self-isolating.

‘It is a robust testing regime and, as we keep saying, it is all about keeping a low risk and managing a balance of safeguarding and protecting the economy.’

Jonny Drury

By Jonny Drury
Journalist

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