More freedom within days as reconnection continues

JERSEY will take further steps back towards normality as the next stage of the Island’s Covid-19 reconnection starts on Monday.

Health Minister Richard Renouf
Health Minister Richard Renouf

Legally-binding restrictions for two-metre distancing in workplaces and many indoor public places such as shops, restaurants and pubs will lapse at 11.59pm tomorrow and be replaced by guidance. Islanders are being urged to do the right thing to minimise the risk of any rise in Covid-19 cases after a steady decrease over the past three-and-a-half months.

The legal limits on the size of gatherings in venues such as controlled wedding receptions, wakes or theatre performances will also lapse, although there remains a limit of up to 20 people on informal gatherings in people’s homes and gardens or in public places, such as beaches.

Some of the details were outlined at a private briefing for media yesterday including:

- Guidance for Islanders to work from home where possible will lapse.

- Businesses being advised to maintain distancing where possible. While the legal restrictions will be removed, the advice is to maintain a two-metre distance ‘where practicable’.

- Particular care should be taken at potential bottlenecks in offices, shops or hospitality. Masks must continue to be worn in shops, and when moving around hospitality venues, and are also encouraged for meetings between colleagues in offices where two-metre distancing is not possible.

- Dancing at wedding receptions is discouraged, with the exception of a couple’s traditional first dance. Live or pre-recorded music is permitted but should be at background levels rather than at a loud volume that might lead guests to have to raise their voices and risk spreading vapours via their breath.

- The ten-person limit for tables in hospitality venues will cease, although it is still recommended that a distance of at least one metre, preferably two, is maintained between tables unless the use of screens is viable.

- There will also no longer be a limit on spectators or participants at sports events, where those events are able to take place without the need for special permits or licences.

Stage 5 will also include the reintroduction of the ‘traffic light’ risk-assessment system for travel to the UK, Guernsey and Crown Dependencies – this step will come in on 26 April.

Health Minister Richard Renouf said the changes came with public-health guidance to ‘support a safe transition’.

‘While two-metre physical distancing is no longer required by law, people should still make every effort to maintain distance from those they don’t live with, wherever possible,’ he said. ‘Maintaining two metres helps keep people safe and reduces the risk of having to self-isolate because you came into close contact with someone who has Covid-19.

‘This change from law to guidance is about a gradual movement to less stringent measures, it does not mean the risk has gone.’

Further stages of the roadmap are provisionally scheduled as follows:

- Stage 6 (10 May): Standing alcoholic-drink service resumes, saunas and spas can reopen.

- Stage 7 (14 June): An unlimited number of people will be permitted in homes and gardens; nightclubs reopen, including dancing; larger indoor and outdoor events and festivals permitted, subject to case numbers and risk assessment.

Ministers have previously stressed that each stage is dependent on scientific advice, which will include consideration of the number of cases of Covid-19 and the progress of the vaccination campaign.

Jersey currently has four known active cases after one person was reported to have recovered yesterday, while latest vaccination figures show that around 45,000 Islanders had received a first dose by last Sunday, with more than half of them also being given a second dose.

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