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Freephone Number Set Up For Coronavirus Helpline

JT has set up a new phone line so islanders can call the coronavirus helpline for free.

The government says the 0800 735 5566 number will be in place for as long as it's needed.

It's available between 8am and 8pm on weekdays and 10am to 4pm on weekends and bank holidays for advice on symptoms, restrictions, travel, testing and contact tracing and to book vaccine appointments.

"We are really pleased to be able to work with the Government of Jersey to provide this Freephone service, which allows callers contact the coronavirus helpline without incurring any charges, irrespective of who they subscribe to.

"This forms a further element of JT’s wider and on-going contribution to supporting islanders through the pandemic. This support has included doubling broadband speeds for all fibre broadband subscribers since March 2020 to make it easier for islanders to work, be entertained and stay in contact with friends and loved ones from home, making local landline calls free during periods of lockdown and removing data charges for any customers that remain on old tariffs that don’t already have unlimited broadband usage included." - Daragh McDermott, JT Channel Islands Managing Director.

It follows pressure from St Helier Deputy Rob Ward, who argued that this was penalising people with pay-as-you phones who could pay up to 39p a minute in the queue.

Social Security Minister Deputy Judy Martin admitted that she was 'astounded' to hear that people could pay that much and promised to look into it.

"While most of our calls are answered quickly, some days see a peak in calls in a short space of time, for example when vaccination bookings open or restrictions change. This can mean some Islanders have to wait until they can speak to an advisor.

"We’d like to thank JT for offering to cover the costs of the Coronavirus helpline and install the freephone number. We hope this will make it easier for those who do have to pay per minute on their phone contracts to contact the helpline for advice and encourage anyone who needs our support to get in touch."

The 445566 number remains in force and will continue to charge as normal.

Deputy Ward says he's very pleased it now exists, but also wants a free phone line for enquiries to Customer and Local Services on La Motte Street.

It was closed at the start of the coronavirus pandemic and hasn't reopened to drop-in customers since.

The government said in August 2020 that it was because of a surge in online and telephone queries in the three and a half months prior.

"I hope we can set up a free phone number there as well. It will give genuine access and openness to the services that people need to access, especially at a time of Covid when we can't do it face to face." -Deputy Rob Ward.

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