Cautious reopening required but no elimination strategy, Chief Minister says

MINISTERS have defended the strategy of taking a cautious exit route away from current Covid-19 restrictions, and will not be looking to move to an elimination strategy.

Chief Minister John Le Fondré
Chief Minister John Le Fondré

Islanders were updated at an evening press briefing on Thursday about the latest measures for Jersey's reconnection, which is to proceed at a slower pace than outlined in the first week of strategy.

Chief Minister John Le Fondré said he did not support a change of strategy when there was an end point in sight, setting up another clash with his arch critic Senator Kristina Moore, who is behind a proposition regarding an elimination strategy that is likely to be debated next month.

Senator Le Fondré referred to a number of practical difficulties with the proposals, including the cost, the timetabling and the ethical question of compulsory testing.

The press conference outlined the next steps in reopening businesses, with non-essential shops set to open their doors next Wednesday and hair/beauty salons the week after on 3 February.

But there was no solace for sportspeople, with the ban on team sports for more than ten people remaining in place until at least 13 February.

The Chief Minister and the deputy medical officer of health, Dr Ivan Muscat, said reopening was happening in the reverse order of closures, but did not offer specific reasons why outdoor sport, deemed as low risk by scientific experts, had no firm target date.

Vaccination was also addressed, with Dr Muscat forecasting that 70% of over-80s would be vaccinated by 25 January, and pledges by ministers to consider providing more detail about vaccine stocks.

Health Minister Richard Renouf said he was pleased to advise that the current low number of coronavirus cases needing hospital treatment had meant that elective surgery had resumed at Jersey General Hospital.

With the proportion of positive test results for arriving passengers having climbed to around 3%, there was also an update on enforcement action by the contact tracing team, with 2,059 visits, 1,964 phone calls and 333 email exchanges having taken place since 1 January.

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