Tim Chesnay, chief executive of the Compass Group, a tyre company based in St Peter Port, has claimed that the Civil Contingency Agency, which has guided Guernsey through the pandemic, has acted with an ‘iron fist’ in imposing quarantine rules and closing the island’s borders.
And he said that he believes they would do well to follow the manner in which their Jersey counterparts have acted.
Guernsey received plaudits for closing its borders quickly, which resulted in the island having zero active cases of Covid-19 for 129 days, before the virus was detected in a returning passenger last weekend.
Although travel in and out of the island is now possible, arriving passengers have to quarantine for seven or 14 days.
By contrast, Jersey opened its borders on 3 July with a testing regime, has had a less strict quarantine regime than its near neighbour and only cleared the active cases in the Island to zero for one day.
But Mr Chesnay said that he felt his island’s approach was ‘draconian’ and has left residents living in fear, on top of causing possible irreparable damage to Guernsey’s economy and air links.
‘Quarantine is imposed with intrusive checks, a fine of up to £10,000 hanging over people’s heads, an arrestable offence even for minor transgressions, and there are snitchers’ hotlines to report neighbours, which many people find intimidatory,’ he said. ‘Islanders are being subjected to the typical tools used by authoritarian regimes. There is no clear road map offered by the CCA out of this unpleasant stalemate.’
He added: ‘Covid-19 in and of itself has not caused all the economic and other damage, including the tens of millions of pounds in losses by Aurigny – escalating by the day – and the serious risks we now face to long-term transport connectivity for the island.
‘A considerable amount of this damage has arisen as a direct result of the isolationist “Fortress Guernsey” policies adopted by the CCA. There is an unwillingness by the CCA to accept the global view that Covid-19 is an endemic circulatory virus that we must all learn to live with and manage.
‘By contrast Jersey has accepted that reality and they are forging ahead and leaving Guernsey in their slipstream. So much needless damage has been caused to the Guernsey economy – particularly in certain sectors such as hospitality – livelihoods have been upended and people’s freedoms have been infringed.’
He said he believed that the Guernsey government could soon face legal action from businesses for the way it has acted.
‘Lawyers have been instructed, papers will be served in the near future, and there will be a legal challenge to the CCA,’ he said. ‘This will bring matters into the full glare of the media, both on and off the island.’