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More reef patrols to stop Covid-19 contraventions

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EXTRA patrols are to be carried out around Jersey’s offshore reefs to guard against French mariners who contravene coronavirus restrictions.

Les Ecréhous (29002329)

Visitors from France are being reminded by the Jersey authorities that they must not set foot on the Ecréhous and Minquiers reefs without going through Covid-19 protocols.

France was reclassified as an amber country on the Jersey risk assessment on Sunday following a spike in cases. The country moved beyond Jersey’s upper threshold for green status of 25 active cases per 100,000 population on Saturday, and the latest figure from the European Centre for Disease Control yesterday was 29.4.

Visitors from France and other amber countries need to take a swab test on arrival in Jersey and self-isolate for five days before taking a second test, with both results required to be negative before they can end self-isolation.

One Islander with a property at the Ecréhous, which is part of the parish of St Martin, said there were large numbers of French visitors who appeared unaware of the regulations, and said the risk of a single person with the virus passing it to a Jersey resident after coming ashore was comparable to playing Russian roulette.

St Martin Deputy Steve Luce said he hoped the issue would be self-policing, with Islanders who spent time on the reefs taking steps to report any breaches. But he admitted that stronger action could be required.

‘If this did escalate, then Customs or the honorary police might have to go out and have a word,’ he said. ‘I sense that only a few French visitors are getting off their boats – most are being sensible.’

A government spokesperson said details about plans for extra patrols at the Ecréhous – and also at the Minquiers, which is part of the parish of Grouville – would be available later in the week.

Advisory notices to mariners, explaining the implications of arriving in Jersey from France, have been translated and distributed to ports and marinas in Brest, Carteret, Cherbourg, Dielette, Granville, Guernsey, Roscoff and St Malo. Local boat owners have also been alerted, in addition to the Association des Ports de Plaisance de Bretagne and the Bureau des Iles Anglo-Normandes.

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Strict rules for everyone arriving in Jersey are applicable to leisure boats, and an accompanying notice to mariners details the procedures, including pre-booking a berth at St Helier Marina and not using other harbours such as St Aubin and Gorey.

The Ecréhous have been in the spotlight on previous, albeit rare, occasions when relations between Jersey and its nearest neighbour have been less than cordial.

In 1993 and 1994 French fishermen landed at Maître Ile, the largest islet within the Ecréhous, and raised a Norman flag as part of a protest relating to Channel Island fishing regulations and asserting a claim to sovereignty.

Officers from the States of Jersey Police were sent to deal with the ‘invaders’, who had paused for lunch but left peacefully after finishing their meal.

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