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Covid Cluster Delays Reopening Of Non-Essential Shops

Non-essential retail and indoor leisure spaces in Jersey will not reopen on 27 January as planned.

The Health Minister says it's because of a cluster in the retail supply chain which was down to poor behaviour, not adhering to the most basic of hygiene rules, staff working with symptoms, and staff not wearing PPE.

Non-essential shops were due to reopen this week, with close contact services doing the same next week, as long as things were still heading in the right direction.

But reopening has been delayed by at least a week because of that cluster, which the government thinks may have spread through staff working in transport and deliveries.

Around 200 possible direct contacts must be traced - and Deputy Richard Renouf says this is exactly the sort of behaviour that will stop us from reconnecting our island community.

Close contact services like hairdressers and beauty salons will therefore not open on the 3 February as planned. They'll only open a week after non-essential shops do.

Deputy Renouf says deep cleaning in stores is taking place regularly, along with wearing masks and good hygiene, to make sure there is no added risk to the public.

"We have said we will not be locking down. Our strategy is to control COVID-19 cases and keep figures low enough to maintain our general freedoms, while not placing a strain on our healthcare services. 

"We can only maintain these freedoms with your cooperation and close observation of Public Health guidelines. It is clear this is not always happening. You must not go into other people’s houses, you must maintain physical distancing, and you must wear masks where appropriate.

"COVID-19 is an awful disease. It has taken Islanders from us who should not have died at this time. It must be taken seriously by everyone. But it is also just one of many challenges we face. We are balancing its harm against many other harms. And while I know people are anxious about COVID-19 cases, as Health and Social Services Minister I care deeply about all the other health harms that a lockdown would bring, many of which would disproportionately affect Islanders on lower incomes.

"Our vaccination programme is continuing at pace and is our pathway to greater freedoms. But we must protect it. As such, today's announcement is regrettable but unavoidable."

More to follow.

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