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"We Can't Pretend That Everything Is Fine"

The Health Minister says we can't be reckless about how we proceed through the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. He's been defending the decision to delay stand-up drinking for another five weeks.

It's caused huge frustration amongst the hospitality industry - with industry body Chief Executive Simon Soar calling it 'non-sensical'.

He points to the low case numbers and measures in place to keep people safe, such as the track and trace system.

Deputy Richard Renouf says it's based on advice from STAC to 'prevent the risk of spread', and warns that Jersey's good position could get worse quickly if we're not careful.

"Though we are doing well, we can't pretend that everything is fine and Covid is in the past. It certainly isn't and we've got to be cautious, otherwise we will just go backwards.

"We are proceeding at the right pace in accordance with the advice we're given and the research that is undertaken.

"People are closer together generally when they are standing at the bar and they move around, whereas if you're seated at the table there is a greater degree of control that the proprietor of the business can exercise and that reduces the risk of spread."

Jersey has three known active cases of Covid-19 and has gone 31 days without a community-based case being detected.

Statistics update: Since Wednesday 28 April, 1 new case has been identified through inbound travel. It is now 31 days...

Posted by Government of Jersey on Thursday, 29 April 2021

The Health Minister says he would hope the hospitality industry still understands there is still a risk of coronavirus spreading, notwithstanding our low case numbers.

Restaurants and bars can return to normal opening hours from today (30 April).

There has been a 11:30pm curfew in place since 2 April, but after requests from hospitality providers, the government has agreed to remove it.

"We have responded to the industry who wanted to extend opening hours. We have done so because we thought that was the right thing to do at this stage.

"What I'm saying is we are proceeding in a careful and cautious way because there are still risks."

Stage 6 of the roadmap to recovery, which starts on 10 May, will include up to 50 people being able to go to wedding receptions in private gardens.

Currently, only 20 are allowed.

Many events companies criticised the government after believing that only 20 people could attend receptions in private venues, but the government has since clarified that that the 20-person limit does not apply if the private garden or outdoor space is available for hire.

The confusion led to some weddings being cancelled and couples uninviting guests.

Hospitality Association CEO Simon Soar said the government had made a mistake and decided to backtrack instead of acknowledging that they were wrong.

Deputy Renouf has rejected that accusation and insists the guidance was clear at all times.

"It was always the case that venues which advertise themselves for hire for wedding receptions could continue to be available for unlimited numbers. The thinking grew up that they were limited to 20, which wasn't the case.

"We still need to keep some watch on what might happen in private places and make sure they are Covid safe for people, whereas in places that are businesses or run as commercial enterprises, the owners of those businesses and operators will have a reach into health and safety."

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