The process to ‘reconnect’ the Island is set for significant forward steps over the coming weeks and also includes restarting outdoor sport and faith worship.
But many restrictions will remain in place until at least 15 March, including the closure of gyms and ‘wet-led’ pubs, the ban on household mixing and guidance about working from home.
Speaking at a press conference today [12 February], Health Minister Richard Renouf, said: ‘We are pleased to resume our gradual and considered reopening of lower-risk activities. We are putting various mitigation measures in place, including a recommendation that hospitality staff undergo PCR workforce testing before reopening, and then have regular Lateral Flow tests as a further layer of protection once venues are open.
‘Waiting until Monday 22 February to reopen hospitality will give the businesses time to prepare for the public health requirements they will have to meet and will give us time to discuss their concerns and support them as they prepare to reopen.
‘While the relaxation of public heath measures creates some risk, there are significant wellbeing benefits to reconnecting some of the activities we have all been missing. Officer advice on the balance of harms has convinced us that the reconnection we are announcing today is the best way forward for our community.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister John Le Fondré urged people to continue respecting physical distancing regulations and only mix with a limited number of people.
‘To date, the reconnection policy has proceeded without spikes in case rates or positivity. The 14-day rate is now below 50, and test positivity for all age groups is below 1%, low enough to proceed with reconnection more quickly. STAC have also emphasised the impact of Covid restrictions on mental health and wellbeing, and we don’t want to continue with these measures for any longer than necessary,’ he said.
‘Risks remain though, which is why we are not opening up too quickly and we are not yet relaxing our travel arrivals policy.’
Team sports may resume from Wednesday, the same date as faith worship for up to 40 people may resume in time for Ash Wednesday services.
Hospitality venues will be subject to a maximum of ten people at tables, with alcohol only available with food, two-metre gaps between tables and a two-and-a-half hour limit for bookings. Enhanced protocols will cover cleaning, the wearing of masks and testing for staff. Hotels may also reopen on the date, for local customers only, with a final decision expected next week.