With just a couple of minutes notice, Jersey’s Chief Minister and Minister for Health and Social Services delayed their public press conference by half an hour, with thousands of islanders waiting to listen. The reason given was “due to the ongoing Assembly debate”. It then started a further 10 minutes late with no apology to all those waiting.
The main reason for the press conference is to announce the ‘festive period bubbles’, as the States have already confirmed that schools will remain open for the remainder of this term, subject to specific situations in some schools.
The press conference is to announce the new public health guidance published today, to safely allow for Jersey Islanders to meet with family and friends from different households over the festive period, from the 23th December to the 5th January. These measures will be enforceable
Islanders are being advised to only meet in gatherings of 6 or more on three occasions in total, during the festive period and to only socialise at other times in small, consistent groups.
The Christmas public health guidance maintains that no gatherings of more than 10 people can take place at any time, indoors, including private homes and gardens. Outdoor gatherings in public places will be limited to a maximum of 20 people.
Gatherings of 6 people or more
- Gatherings of 6 people or more, both indoors and outdoors, with more than one household must not occur more than three times over the festive period
- There must not be more than one such gathering per day
Smaller groups up to 5 people
- Smaller group must be of 5 or less people
- Islanders can meet as small groups more than once a day
- These small groups will not be counted towards the three gathering limit
- Islanders can meet as a small group in addition to one gathering of 6 or more in a day
- Smaller groups must be kept as consistent as possible by seeing the same people
- Children under 3 years old will not be counted in gathering numbers where the gathering is in a person’s home or garden.
- Gatherings for the purposes of formal religious worship and organised support for vulnerable Islanders, strictly adhering to the public health measures, will be limited to 20 people. Such activities will not be included within the three gathering limit.
Other public health guidance, to maintain physical distancing and practice good hand and surface hygiene, and wearing masks in public places, also remain in place for this period.
The Chief Minister, Senator John Le Fondré said: “I appreciate that this will not be the Christmas some of us are used to celebrating but, in the circumstances of this challenging year, we are incredibly lucky to be able to celebrate together in this way at all.
“I am asking Islanders to socialise in very small groups over the festive period and to only plan three special occasions with their wider family and friends, safely. The limit of three is there to protect the more vulnerable members of our families and our Island. Without these limitations, the spread of COVID-19 could prove fatal to those we love. We want to protect the most vulnerable and the impact of uncontrolled gatherings would see our number of active cases rise exponentially.
“I hope Islanders can find the willingness, responsibility and commitment to enjoy this Christmas and New Year with their loved ones and those closest to them, with the underlying duty that we must all act with their interests in mind.”
The Minister for Health and Social Services, Deputy Richard Renouf said: “Christmas is a time we, as a community, can show compassion and consideration for one another by following this guidance, to maintain the health and relative freedoms we so closely value. It is a time to quietly reflect on the year we have had. The year that has changed so much for so many of us. It is not a time to turn back on everything we have been through and risk losing control of this virus. Regrettably, those who find themselves in isolation over the festive period, must remain in isolation.”
Islanders are encouraged to keep records of who they socialise with, to support the Contact Tracing team if they are found to be a direct contact of a positive case.
For help and support, remember to contact the Helpline on 01534 445566.
This guidance is effective from 00:01 on 23 December until 00:01 on 6 January.