Business gives its backing to Covid Alert app – as 31,000 Islanders sign up

RETAILERS and business leaders have hailed the Island’s new Covid Alert app as a ‘great initiative’ in the wake of news that more than 31,000 people have so far signed up for it.

The launch of the app                                           Picture: ROB CURRIE. (29436058)
The launch of the app Picture: ROB CURRIE. (29436058)

They are now hoping that it will give more people the confidence to visit shops, bars and restaurants in the traditionally busy run-up to Christmas.

The app’s launch is the latest measure to shore up confidence and underline the growing sentiment that Jersey is now very well positioned to balance health and economic priorities.

The Island has already won praise for its track-and-trace programme and is acknowledged to have one of the best testing regimes in Europe.

The app, which alerts smartphone users if they have been close to confirmed cases of coronavirus, was launched on Wednesday.

Developed by the government in partnership with Digital Jersey, it has brought an additional dimension to the Island’s efforts to combat Covid-19.

Simon Soar, chief executive of the Jersey Hospitality Association, described the app as ‘another great initiative to come out of the Island’.

‘As we’ve led many things within Europe, such as testing arriving passengers, we’re really proud to see this,’ he said. ‘We will embrace it and do anything we can to work alongside it – we hope it will encourage more Islanders to be going out and about.’

JPRestaurants is one of the businesses who will be promoting the app to staff and customers, and director Dominic Jones said he believed it would have a positive effect on people going out.

‘Given that we think it will help minimise the risk of Covid, we think it must be a positive for the Island,’ he said. ‘People going out is about confidence, and the app is one of the ways of giving people confidence that they are going to be safe when going out.

‘It’s going to alert them if they come across anybody when out who is positive, and reassure people that any positive people will not be going out the next day, which will help break the cycle.’

David Warr, managing director of Cooper & Co, said the app should prove beneficial in encouraging Islanders to come to shops and hospitality outlets.

‘I think it’s an extremely positive move, and shows that we are in a much better place then the disastrous situation in the UK, with a lockdown in Wales and confusion about the three-tier system in the UK,’ he said.

‘We want people to feel safe and secure when they come out, so anything that makes people feel a little bit safer should be good for the economy and help safeguard jobs.’

Murray Norton, chief executive of the Jersey Chamber of Commerce, said: ‘Anything that can give people the confidence to go out and which gives the government the tools to track and trace its population in terms of Covid-19 has got to be a good thing.’

The JEP asked the government for statistics regarding the number of users who have received alerts as a result of their usage of the app, but was advised that these would not be available until later in the week.

The vast majority of mobile users in Jersey have smartphones, and the app is designed to work on devices that are less than five years old. This equates to an Apple iPhone 6s and above, or Google’s Android version 6.0 and higher.

The app has been promoted through a text message sent to all mobile phone users last Friday, as well as via advertising and social media.

At the time of the launch, Tony Moretta, chief executive of Digital Jersey, said the app would start to have a beneficial effect once it was being used by 15% of the population, and said that he hoped the reach of the app could eventually rise as high as 50%.

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