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Review Panel Wants Stricter Traffic Light System

Fewer regions could be categorised as green on Jersey's safe travel list when the traffic light system resumes on 26 April.

Currently, areas at a case rate of 0 to 50 per 100,000 will be rated green, which requires isolation until a negative border test, but a Scrutiny panel wants it halved to 25.

If the States agrees, areas with case rates of between 25 and 120 per 100,000 would be graded amber - which would require isolation until a negative Day 5 test.

Amber is currently 50 to 120 per 100,000.

The Safer Travel panel says while the success of the vaccine programme has put the island in a very different position to last year, we must remember the pandemic is not over - especially with the threat of new variants.

The group says it's trying to make sure the island avoids what happened last December, when inbound travel combined with the easing of restrictions led to a spike in cases.

"The number of cases in other jurisdictions remains high with a number of countries, including France, which currently has active cases at over 1.079 million having faced the grip of a third wave coupled with slower vaccine uptake than the UK.

"In all these circumstances, while it is right that the Government takes a proactive and optimistic approach to travel it should also do so with an appropriate level of caution in what remains an uncertain global situation."

The panel has also pointed to published STAC minutes published last year, which said that changing the green categorisation from 25 to 50 per 100,000 was not in line with the medical advice at the time.

"While the Panel appreciates that the vaccination programme has altered the landscape in which Dr. Muscat, the then Medical Officer of Health, Susan Turnbull and STAC chairman Patrick Armstrong voiced their concerns about the risks posed, it would be prudent to take measures now which would reduce any likelihood of inbound travel again causing a re-seeding of the virus and potential rapid rise in cases as experienced late last year.

"It is also worth remembering Mr. Armstrong’s statement to STAC in early September last year that one outbreak of COVID-19 in Jersey would have a significant impact, whereas a larger country could more easily absorb the implications of the same."

The proposition is due to be debated next week, so a decision can be made in time for the further easing of border restrictions.

If it's passed, the upper-tier local authority level, like counties and metropolitan districts, will be the approach used rather than lower-tier or council areas.

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