Ministers revealed the strict new measures during a press conference tonight [2 December] where it was confirmed that the number of known active cases had increased by 53 to a total of 331 – and that the Nightingale Wing would need to be opened if figures continued to increase.
Meanwhile, the two-metre social-distancing law is to be brought back into force and all indoor sports classes will also be cancelled.
Hospitality venues, gyms and hotels – apart from those hosting essential workers or people who are self-isolating – have been ordered to close from midnight on Thursday [3 December], with the measures likely to remain in force until 4 January.
Chief Minister John Le Fondré said: ‘We are seeing more cases in hospital and a continuing growth in the number of positive cases in the community. We have been briefed on the current R-rate, which is between 1.4 and 1.9. This means each case is, on average, passing the infection onto more than one other person. This is too much and we need to introduce more stringent restrictions to protect Islanders.
‘If we don’t take this action now, we could be facing more stringent restrictions. However, we anticipate that these actions will, in the next two to three weeks, lead to a reduction in case numbers.
‘This will not happen straight away, as a change in measures takes at least two weeks to make an impact on figures. We must therefore take this action to protect both our population and our healthcare system.’
Meanwhile, Health Minister Richard Renouf warned that if no action was taken there could be 1,100 active cases by boxing day with 12,000 Islanders – around one tenth of the population – being forced to self-isolate as a result.
‘We have received some sobering advice from our scientific and medical colleagues, and we are convinced that this is the right approach. If these numbers continue to rise, we will need to open the Nightingale Wing,’ he said.
‘I have already made mask-use and contact-tracing a legal requirement, and the permitted size of gatherings has been reduced. Now it’s time to take these restrictions further.
‘This is not a lockdown and we won’t be limiting the time people can spend outside their homes, but we are trying to limit the potential for uncontrolled spread of Covid-19 by closing hospitality venues, gyms and indoor exercise classes, and by keeping people further apart in public areas.’
Hospitality and leisure firms affected by the shutdown will be eligible for financial support from the government’s co-funding payroll scheme.