Vaccine passport scheme for Island

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The government has also pushed back the date for lifting restrictions on travel to other jurisdictions outside of the UK and Crown Dependencies, from 17 May to 28 May.

Travel restrictions will now be based on national Covid levels for Wales, Scotland, England and Northern Ireland, rather than lower-tier local authority rates. It means that the whole of England, Scotland and Wales will soon be classed as green, while Northern Ireland will be amber.

At a press conference yesterday, Chief Minister John Le Fondré said he hoped the ‘proportionate changes’ would be welcome news for Islanders. Jersey currently has one active case.

He said: ‘The latest relaxation was only possible thanks to the strong take-up of our vaccination programme and the low rate of cases seen both locally and in the UK.’

Passengers from within the Common Travel Area – which comprises the UK, Crown Dependencies and Ireland – who have had both vaccinations will not be required to self-isolate on arrival to the Island, as long as they come from a green or amber area.

Instead they will take a test on arrival and will not have to isolate at all, provided the result is negative.

However, even with a double vaccination, a traveller from a ‘red’ area will still be subject to a minimum ten-days isolation period.

Jersey’s testing system is also changing, with people arriving from green areas requiring tests at day zero and day eight if they have not had two vaccinations. Currently arrivals must take tests on days zero, five and ten. Those travelling from amber and red areas will follow the current three-test system.

Those travelling from green areas must still isolate until they receive their first negative test result if they have not been fully vaccinated. The testing and isolation requirements for amber and red arrivals who have not had two jabs remain unchanged.

The 14-day case rates that make up Jersey’s green, amber and red classifications will not change.

The new travel guidance, including the vaccine passports will come into force on 28 May.

Red, Amber and Green classifications for the rest of the world will also restart from that date.

Health Minister Richard Renouf will also reserve an ‘emergency brake’ for regions with variants of concern or high infection rates within the CTA, where stricter restrictions could be reinstated.

Deputy Chief Minister Lyndon Farnham said the changes would ‘not only enable families and friends to be reunited’, but would also provide a ‘much-needed lift to the Island’s economy’.

The vaccine certificates will initially be in some form of physical identification for Island residents, according to the government, and an ‘easy method’ – either in paper or digital format – for CTA residents.

Senator Farnham said there was no definitive date for a

vaccination passport app for Islanders.

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said on Friday that English residents could use their NHS app to ‘access their vaccine records’, when foreign travel restrictions eased, which is expected to happen on 17 May. Yesterday, UK chief medical officers lowered the coronavirus alert level from four to three.

Senator Le Fondré said they were working on developing an app with Digital Jersey, but the government wanted the ‘benefits to come through sooner rather than later, rather than waiting for the technology to catch up’.

Deputy Renouf announced vaccination figures during the briefing that showed 43% of adult Islanders had received both vaccinations, with those aged 35 to 39 able to book their vaccines from this week.

Asked by the JEP why a vaccination passport scheme had been announced before all Islanders had been offered at least one jab, and whether this discriminated against younger people, the Chief Minister said they had weighed up the ethical issues, but the decision was made so ‘we can start recognising the benefit’ of double vaccination.

He said it was not a discriminatory system.

Deputy medical officer of health Dr Ivan Muscat added that, by the end of May, most people aged 30 and over would have been offered at least one vaccine.

He said vaccination ‘continued at pace’, and it seemed a ‘reasonable approach’.

Explaining the decision to move away from the regional approach for classifying arrivals, the Chief Minister said this reflected ‘falling rates generally’ and progress across UK nations with the vaccination programme.

Senator Le Fondré said: ‘It’s because we are seeing good rates out there, and its simpler to keep it at a country level.’

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