Are Covid comparisons between Jersey and Guernsey useful to us?

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This week pollsters Island Global Research published a survey indicating that 80% of Sarnian residents were happy with their government’s approach to dealing with the pandemic compared to 42% in Jersey.

Guernsey, which has imposed stricter measures to contain the virus, currently has three known active cases, while Jersey, which has allowed a lot more travel through its borders, had almost 380 by Thursday and has just imposed more restrictions following a surge in infections.

Graeme Smith, chief executive of Jersey Business, said that he felt the two islands had justification for their differing approaches.

‘Comparing the two islands is a bit like comparing a Premier League team with a French team, because actually our economies are different,’ he said

‘Guernsey, as an example, does not have as much external tourism coming in as a percentage as Jersey does, so could afford to be stricter in closing its borders. In taking those decisions, it was going to have less of an economic impact on them than if Jersey had taken the same decision. So I can understand Guernsey and what they did and Jersey and what they did.’

Mr Smith added that Guernsey’s approach may turnout to be more favourable because vaccines have been developed relatively quickly.

But he added that Jersey’s decision to develop an extensive track-and-trace system had paid dividends, including in helping to address the current surge in cases.

‘If we hadn’t got a vaccine and we didn’t know a vaccine was coming along for another 12 months, the reality is we would have had to learn to live with Covid,’ he said.

‘We would have had to learn to be able to deal with the peaks and troughs, and it’s the track-and-trace and the testing that allows us to do that, so that we can manage it and we can loosen restrictions or take action as necessary.

‘No one would want the current situation, but they’ve been able to identify the events which caused around 1,600 people to self isolate.

‘It is actually a positive in terms of how fast we’ve been able to wrap our arms around it, which is what you need to do.’

He added: ‘If there was no vaccine, would Guernsey be able to close their borders for two, three years and still have an economy? No, I don’t think they would.

‘But if the vaccine comes along really early, maybe Guernsey’s approach would be better. But you just didn’t know when it actually was going to come. We make judgments based upon on the balance.’

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