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'Uncontrolled Mixing In Households Remains Risky'

The Chief Minister has defended the decision to soon allow up to ten people from different households to sit at a table in a hospitality venue, but not let them do the same in someone's home.

Cafes, restaurants and pubs that serve food can open from Monday 22 February, but rules on household mixing will remain the same.

Senator John Le Fondre says the medical advice is that uncontrolled mixing in households remains risky.

"They're going to do temperature checks when you go in, there is the normal contact tracing side, there is the fact it is time-limited (two and a half hours), it's seated, it's spaced, and therefore your behaviour will be relatively controlled.

"The risk is lower than, for the sake of argument, a group of people in a house where you're there for an unlimited amount of time, you might relax, you might start hugging and you might just get a lot closer.

"It is difficult, we absolutely understand that, and this is this difficulty we're now in where our (active coronavirus case) numbers are low and we would all like to relax even more than we've got at the moment - but the risk is still there.

"The advice, and some evidence, is the household mixing side is riskier than what we're allowing out."

Gatherings inside homes are strongly discouraged, apart from essential reasons like caring for someone vulnerable.

People who go to hospitality venues will also have to wear masks when not eating and drinking.

Staff will also be encouraged to take rapid lateral flow coronavirus tests as an extra layer of protection.

Those tests are being used in Jersey schools on a weekly basis. As of Friday 5 February, ten pupils and three members of school staff have tested positive through these kits.

The hospitality workforce are also being encouraged to get a free PCR swab before 22 February. The Economic Development Minister, Senator Lyndon Farnham, says they should call the free coronavirus helpline this weekend to book it if possible.

The government has again emphasised the need for caution when reopening the society and economy to keep islanders physically safe, but Health Minister Deputy Richard Renouf has warned of the impact restrictions are having on many people.

He has revealed what he's called a 'distressing increase' in eating disorders amongst young adults and children.

There has also been a 10% increase in children and young people accessing CAMHS.

Deputy Renouf says the impact on people's mental health should not be overlooked.

"We are keen to reconnect the island as soon as it is safe to do so, but we all have a duty to reach out to those who might be finding this time particularly difficult, to connect virtually or safely outdoors and to help one another.

"Our guidance does allow us to visit somebody living alone who might require care - and care includes relieving their isolation and loneliness.

"Jersey has always prided itself on our strong community and we need that community spirit to continue to shine as we safely reconnect our island."

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