This is a very rough and unverified transcript of the Isle of Man Government Press Conference conducted on 21 May 2020. You should not rely upon it — it is transcribed by an automated speech recognition service, and I cannot guarantee its accuracy.
Before relying or quoting anything contained here, you should verify it against the underlying audio recorded here. Time Stamps and automatically-generated speaker names should help in the verification.
Howard Quayle 0:01
Good afternoon, everyone. What a busy week it’s been a week of significant changes, probably the biggest changes we’ve made since we first had to bring in the measures to protect our island. This evening, I would like to step back, I would like to pause to reflect on where we have come from, and give you a bit of an idea of where we may be heading. Before that a weekday evening would not be complete without the health and social care minister, bringing us today’s numbers. David.
David Ashford 0:35
Thank you, Chief Minister. The total number of tests on disk undertaken stands at 4353. The total number of test results returned is 4332. That leaves 21 test results outstanding. Since yesterday, we have identified no new cases. So the total number of identified cases continues to be 336. There are currently nine active cases. Thank you.
Howard Quayle 1:09
Thank you very much, David. I would like to preempt a question that I imagine might come up later. Because I think it is an important message. Given that from yesterday, we now have the ability to now go and visit our friends and family. Obviously, I cannot go into many details, but I do want to say a few words about the new confirmed case that we saw yesterday. It was not a health worker, or another frontline worker, or anyone connected to a care home, or someone who may have travelled from across. This was just one of our young people. They and their family have self isolated, and I’m grateful to them for having done the right thing. I of course, wish them well. contact tracing is underway and will take this course. I’m certainly not seeking single out that individual but the important point is that COVID is still in our community, and can be contracted by any one of us from any age group. That is why despite having such low numbers each day, we simply cannot become complacent. Our understanding of the virus is still so limited. But we do know that significant numbers of people will have no symptoms at all. And some will have symptoms so light that they may shrug them off as being something else. And this is why we still need everyone to think carefully and make the right decisions. If someone showing no symptoms does not maintain the social distancing when I was going about, or worse when they visit a friend or relative who was vulnerable, the effects could be disastrous. As I said on Monday, we want to steadily remove restrictions. But But as we step out of your life, we need you to step up and take responsibility. You have done an amazing job so far. And I know that you will continue to do so. The overall picture on the island does allow us to be optimistic. It has allowed us to make changes. On Monday, many retail businesses started trading again, the reports that I have received so far, or that this has gone well, and that on the whole, the new systems put in place to keep you safe. And of course, keep the shop staff safe, are working well. And I would like to thank the commissioners and Douglas corporation for all their work on this. On Monday, I was also able to announce that if you are comfortable doing so, you could start seeing people from other households effective yesterday. We tried to keep the rules as simple as possible. 10 outside to inside, people understood them. And I hope this has made a difference to your life. I hope you’ve been able to see your friends and family but I do Hope you’ve been doing you have been doing so safely. For the time being, we will still regulate rather gather larger gatherings outside. We think there is a wider public interest here. And we will maintain rules in place for the moment on limiting people inside your home to to. But once that person or those two people from the same household enter your home, we have to hand over responsibility to you. We want you to judge the your risk and make decisions for your circumstances. Your best place to do so. You know if you’re not feeling 100% you know someone at home has a health issue. make the right decisions for you and your family. The council of ministers met this morning to review progress on our stay safe roadmap. We were pleased with how things are going so far. There is still some way to go. But we are making progress towards our new Manx norm So where are we right now? And where are we going? Let’s break it into three chapters that you’ve heard me use before. As I’ve said many times, the Council of Ministers is trying to hit a difficult balanced for a controlled return. This morning as always, we have had to balance the desire to see more businesses return with the need to ensure the changes we have already made, remain effective and safe. The health and social care minister will be taking this briefing tomorrow. He will take you through how we are going to start bringing our health services back online. I know how important this is to our community. Some changes have already started. Some will take longer. It will be careful and gradual. Or as David will, I’m sure say baby steps. I won’t eat David sandwiches. He can take you through this tomorrow.
While we are talking about Health. I am pleased to confirm that following support from our clinical group, we are now ready to support non essential private practice health therapies, physiotherapy, podiatry, etc. to reopen with immediate effect, if they are able to demonstrate appropriate risk assessments. They should also have any necessary personal protection equipment. The changes to contact between households was a big step. And I think we are unlikely to make further changes on that in the immediate future. We will however, keep this on the careful review. I’ve said before that any increased contact between households will inevitably lead to an increased risk that the virus could spread. In two weeks, we should be able to see any impact that this changes had. If based on the evidence, we are able to step out of your life forever and change the measures again, we will if we can’t, we will Throughout the pandemic, we have kept schools open for those who most needed them in a managed and gradual manner. And as people have returned to work, we have expanded this. We need to ensure that our children do not miss more of their schooling. That is absolutely necessary. The Department for Education, sports and culture has been working with teachers to ensure we get this right. from Monday the 15th of June, we will be opening all school sites and from Wednesday the 17th of June. All those children currently taught in the hubs will be able to return to their normal school. The exact process by which we reintroduced pupils back into school is still being worked on. It will be done in a phased way. The department will be working with parents and teachers to organise this. We know that not every family is ready to send their children back to school. We have therefore decided that attendance will be on a voluntary basis. Until then, you school year in September. The Minister for Education and sport and culture will be taking this briefing on Monday. I am sure he can give you the latest to them. I know how important sport is to our community. The changes to our gatherings regulations, has allowed us to allow a number of sports to restart and in some cases expand what they can offer. I’m pleased to be able to tell you that from Saturday, we will be allowing a range of outdoor sporting facilities to open. further guidance will be published later this evening by the Department of Education, sport and culture, and the minister will be here on Monday to update you. Moving on to the economy, a significant amount of our businesses have now been able to return to work. Some of course never stopped. But we have now been able to allow all but a couple of sectors to return. What is left you may ask the largest sector of our economy and workforce workforce terms his services. We estimate that it employs around 14,000 people. As I’ve said on Monday, many have been able to have staff working from home and we have welcomed this. From next week, we are ready for these companies to start a gradual phased return. We are however only prepared for them to do so. If they can provide a safe working environment for their staff. We issued guidance on what we believe are the important principles, which of our service sector are part of regulated industries, where this is the case the regulators have written to them about this or service companies know what we expect of them. It is now for them to work out how they make our safety principles fit within their business models. Most companies have told us that they do not expect to return to anything like full staffing levels for some time. Some companies have told us that they They are not yet ready to bring stack published bring back staff back at all for the moment, and that working from home will be an important part of their own new normal. This is for companies to work through in their own way. We will set standards and update those standards as the situation evolves. For now, we will still ask employees to encourage home working and we know many will choose to continue to do so. However, if employees or employees wish to return to the office, provided it is safe to do so. That will be a choice they can make together. This is their decision. The Council of Ministers today considered the lifestyle businesses. This includes beauticians hairdressers, barbers and tattoo artists. Today we agreed that from the first of June, they can reopen.
We have been talking to them about what would be necessary for this to happen as country Elsewhere have reopened the sector, we have been able to learn from their experiences. We will require practitioners to carry out a risk assessment to have PE and to ensure a social distancing on their premises. We will also require them to maintain for 28 days, a record of all their customers for tracing purposes should the need arise. We today also considered what we could do to help the hospitality trade. We today agreed that we are ready to invite restaurants and cafes to start preparations for a possible opening of any outdoor areas on the first of June for food lead services. We will require them to adapt their seating to ensure social distancing. This has been done successfully elsewhere and there are models that can be adopted to our local circumstances. We know that for some this will not be straightforward but We know from our engagement with them that many are already developing ideas, often very innovative ones. We will publish guidelines guidance next week and offer advice and support where we can. Where the restaurant wishes to increase or even create outside dining areas, we will try to assist where possible. At present hotels and all the tourist accommodation can only be provided for key workers and self isolation. In line with our decision on gatherings and campsites recently made as a first step, we have agreed to allow a gradual Return of the sector. From the 25th of May, self catering accommodation can join camping and glamping type facilities in being open again. This builds on the Treasury ministers Commons yesterday about the increasing demand for staycation opportunities here on our wonderful Isle of Man first To enjoy, we will consider the remainder of the sector soon. We have had early conversations with the problem bar operators, we may be able to find a way to allow them to open in a different or limited way. But we and they accept that it may be some time before we are able to have a paint while propping up the bar. I’ve said far too many times that closing our borders has been the single biggest difference in our fight against this virus. We were able to raise the drawbridge was the United Kingdom so many other countries stuck struggled to get to grips with it. The Council of Ministers remains of the view that we cannot envisage on hindered travel between our Ireland and the United Kingdom in the immediate future. We will reopen the borders one day, but we are not there yet. Nevertheless, the stable position we now find ourselves in in terms of capacity of the house. Hospitals staffing, pp and our contact tracing system has allowed us to consider whether we can make some small small changes. We therefore agreed that from the third of June, we will be slightly increasing the number of residents who can come back from the United Kingdom by boat from one vote to two. With an operational maximum of 50 people on each. The arrangements on arrival will not change, people will still have to quarantine either at home or at an approved location, either alone or with people they travelled with. This will continue to be on a first come first serve basis. And this is for our returning residents. But we will now make some limited provisions for non residents who need to come into the island for genuine compassionate reasons. I do need however, to be clear what by what I mean when I say compassionate, I mean end of life or to attend a funeral and for immediate family only. But the point I need to underline is that even in compassionate cases, the 14 day home quarantine will still apply. I know that this is not going to work for every circumstance. And I know that this is not what was reported yesterday by one of all media outlets. It was terribly sad. That’s an accurate story yesterday that then spread fast on social media raised the hopes of a morning family. I will now take questions. And first is Chris Kay from energy, FM. Chris?
Tim Glover 15:35
afternoon minister many questions on education and sports actually, but I suppose they’re best saved for the minister when he talks to us on Monday. I’m glad you mentioned compassionate leave. We’ve heard before that all the guidance and rules are subjected to constant review. Where do people currently stand on leaving the islands for compassionate reasons, and then returning back to the Isle of Man
Howard Quayle 16:00
Well, that’s already allowed Chris, if you’re, if you have a close family member who has died in the UK and you wish to go to their funeral, then you can go away, attend the funeral. And then book yourself back on the boat and with the increase in sailings, etc. You will get back fairly quickly now, but you will then have to obviously isolate for the 14 day period.
Tim Glover 16:24
Is it just limited to those reasons though those those compassionate reasons you mentioned end of life and funerals? Yes.
Howard Quayle 16:32
It’s time to take a holiday or go for a tour of Scotland. Well, serious issues. You know, we we have had some cases where people have said I need to go on a business trip but I want to take my wife with me, you know that Come on, folks, let’s be sensible. This is for end of life or the death of a close family member.
Tim Glover 16:51
And we understand those were alarming issues. While I have been contacted by a parent who’s got a young child in the UK He hasn’t seen them in months now. And it is taking its toll. He would. And I’m sure there are many others in this situation who have friends and family, as you say, who may be near the end of life who wish to leave the other man for these compassionate reasons, but can’t do so and continue working. If they have to self isolate for 14 days. Is it under consideration that we could put people into self isolation upon the turn to the island, test them and then if they are free of the virus, they be allowed out of self isolation?
Howard Quayle 17:34
I don’t think that’s available at that moment, Chris, because as we’ve said, time and time again, you can have this book, The Coronavirus, be tested and come up with a negative test. And then a few days later, show the symptoms and if you could have another test five, six days later and come up positive. It’s It doesn’t just by having the test does not mean that you haven’t been Got it. It just means that at that time that you have the test. The symptoms are not strong enough to show that you have it. So you could give a false confidence to someone that they’ve been tested. And therefore they’re clear they go and mingle with people and then four or five days later, they then come down with the full blown Coronavirus. So there’s no test out there this moment in time that says definitely you have not got it. And you’re not going to get it you’re not you’re not you’re not in the middle of it. So, obviously, the changes that we make are real, you know, we review everything on a regular basis. So I’m not gonna say never because I don’t know what’s ahead. But at this moment in time, you cannot change the 14 day isolation on the Isle of Man.
Tim Glover 18:50
Thanks. My second question. Rules now allow for two people from a different household to come into your home. Could you please provide an update on College journeys were the people from separate households are allowed in the same vehicle.
Howard Quayle 19:05
To the best of my knowledge, that’s not allowed. That’s mixing. It’s much closer than you’re not going to be able to observe a metre, let alone two metre distancing. So at this moment in time, car sharing with people from a different household is not allowed. But obviously, I’m not saying that’s never, you know, going forward, I’m sure that will be reviewed. As I say I say time and time again, we will review all our decisions on a regular basis to see with the latest data, can we make changes to ease the situation on people’s lives?
Josh Stokes 19:39
Okay, thank you.
Howard Quayle 19:41
Right, next we have Simon Richardson from business 365. Good afternoon, Simon. Faster, my
Unknown Speaker 19:48
afternoon, Chief Minister, even though it’s quite a significant relaxation for the services sector today. Now this suggests you’re pretty happy with efforts to suppress The virus is not the case.
Howard Quayle 20:02
Well, I think we’re in a good place, but we can’t be complacent. And as they were doing it in a staged way, we’re not saying they are, they’re still going to have to follow the social distancing real assignment. And therefore, it’s not going to be thousands of people back into offices at once. They will have to follow the rules enables them to open up again and bring staff some staff that have been working from home back into the offices, but they will not be most of them. I cannot envisage being 100% staffed straight away, they will have to do it in stages and work with their staff on this. But guidance has been issued. We’ve been working with them behind the scenes, and as I said, their regulator will have written to them if they are part of that of those have to comply with those regulations on what is expected from them. But it is certainly a step in the right direction for them. And your neck.
Unknown Speaker 20:55
My second question I yeah, I had questions. On aviation yesterday for the Treasury minister, which he answered clearly and in some detail. Since then we’ve heard from the UK that easy jets domestic services are set to restart on June the 15th. Now, if our airport remains closed for the foreseeable future, as seems likely, isn’t there a real chance that EasyJet will simply drop the routes and go elsewhere?
Howard Quayle 21:24
Well, I think it could be one of three things a Logan air operate already to the Isle of Man, they don’t they have to bring anyone in barky workers etc. But they choose to operate those flights. It may well be that EasyJet are looking to see what the United Kingdom are going to do with their proposals on closing their borders. Or it could well be that they’ve just generalised. They’ve looked at their schedule, and they’ve said that all our internal flights to all the locations we’ve normally gone, we went up we used to go to will start from such and such a date, so I wouldn’t read too much into But we will not be relaxing our border controls because EasyJet have decided to open to start their their internal flights again. Thank you very much Simon. Thank you. Okay Josh now Josh Stokes from ITV. Good afternoon, Josh
Josh Stokes 22:17
foster McLean, Chief Minister. hope you’re well, just following on from what Simon said ready to begin with has the government been in contact with EasyJet at all today perhaps to question the booking service they’re currently offering because presumably the borders will not be opening by the 15th of June and yet you can still book for a flight to come and go from the Isle of Man.
Howard Quayle 22:35
Yeah, I know. I spoke to the Minister for infrastructure. Mr. Harmer today about this during our council of ministers meeting and I know he’s looking into it. Obviously it came out at short notice. People can book easy jets to leave the island is just the getting back bit which is the the hardest bit so anyone can leave the island whether it be by boat or or by plane. As I say, getting back. It’s easier now. For those people who have been off islands stranded, who are being repatriated and those for those people going away to a loved one’s funeral or to say goodbye before they pass away, but that’s their choice. You know, they’re a private business, they can do whatever they wanted not for me to stop them doing this, our position and our borders stays is that our borders are closed, and we allow people back for repatriation, or our people who have been away for compassionate visits or from those residents wanting to come and see our minds people who are dying for their compassionate visits and key workers, although that our borders are closed.
Josh Stokes 23:42
Thank you. My second question following on from that, yesterday, the Treasury minister told us that the vast majority of businesses should be back operating within the next few weeks, and certainly within 12 weeks emphasising the importance of taking a confident and optimistic approach. So with that in mind, you’re able to give us some indications on at least what factors you’ll have In regards to opening the border, and it was indicated yesterday that some sort of phased opening is possible. So what can you tell us about that as it’s clearly being stopped discussed amongst you?
Howard Quayle 24:09
Well, obviously, we have to have a plan. We don’t know when that will happen. And it’s one thing I’ve always said I do not like, like setting dates in the future. Giving you dates a week in advance to say an industry is going back, for example, I think is more than acceptable. But saying that in two months time, we will open our borders, that’s just too risky. And there are too many events that can happen to derail that event and people could plan on that date in the future, and then be totally disappointed, just beforehand, but obviously, we will be looking at the number of of new cases in the United Kingdom, obviously, if it’s significantly low, and down to the sort of or a death rate that’s down to the common cold sort of numbers that we’ll see people off then these are, these are data that we will have to look at and obviously will Look at our own our capacity still on the island at the moment. It’s good for PvP for hospital beds for staff numbers, etc. If all those things are good, and the UK has a significantly reduced rate of infections, then obviously, those will be the factors that will help us decide but you’re quite right Josh, it won’t be a sudden opening, it will be what I call little steps or minister Ashford might say baby steps where we allow certain areas back into the island and there may be a set of rules where we do testing on people that are new tests coming out in the future. Who knows how quickly the Oxford vaccine can be developed and brought online so these are all out up in the air and we will obviously make the decisions as as quickly as we can. But at the end of the day, my number one rule is everything we do must be to ensure the safety of the and the health of the people of the Isle of Man. That’s our number one concern. Thank you. Thank you very much, Josh. Right. And last but not least, Tim blogger from Manx radio. Good afternoon, Tim.
Tim Glover 26:08
Good afternoon class to my chief minister. And can I ask my second question to you? And the first to the health minister, please?
Josh Stokes 26:15
David Ashford 26:20
Good afternoon, Tim. I thought I’ve been forgotten about
Tim Glover 26:22
the well looked in on lead you out. So, dentists witsel, could have reopened today for emergency treatments. Why haven’t they?
David Ashford 26:32
Are we making announcements around dentistry tomorrow term? And there is a whole plan around dentistry and I’ll be going into more detail on that tomorrow.
Tim Glover 26:41
Is it concerns within the private sector, though that has prevented them opening today?
David Ashford 26:46
Well, there’s a mixed view between dentists, obviously, in terms of what the private sector do, we aren’t going to dictate to them that they should open if they don’t wish to do so same as with any industry, but I’ll be able to go into more detail around dentistry in my announcement. Today, Chief Minister said earlier we didn’t want to eat my sandwiches. I had a tomato ban. I’ll be expanding on that tomorrow.
Tim Glover 27:07
Sorry, I’m being greedy and trying to get your sandwiches. Thank you. You are
Howard Quayle 27:15
or as would say on the other man, Tim bodies.
Tim Glover 27:17
Yes. Bob is opening as well. Over the weekend. Yes.
Howard Quayle 27:25
Yeah. Well, it’s never been much of a concern for me.
Tim Glover 27:28
And you had the honour yesterday, flagging Christian Valley away from peel and let’s just applaud the efforts that he’s put in and 19 marathons in 19 days. tremendous effort and a real amount of money raised for the solidarity firm that’ll go to really good use, but I have to ask, because we’ve had a lot of inquiries. How concerned were you by the amount of people gathered at the finish symbol tail?
Howard Quayle 27:56
Right. Well, I didn’t specifically I went obviously to the start I wave field. Yeah, I gave a little talk to people as part of my speech, I hope they’re all observing the two metre distancing. And they’d wash their hands before they, they came. And on the whole. I know I saw a photograph of a queue outside the shop a few weeks ago, Tim. And when you take it from in front of the queue, from a distance, it looks as if everyone is virtually within touching distance from one another. Whereas I spoke to the mha for that area, and he said they’d been there and people had respected the, the in the queue, there had been up the proper distancing. So I think sometimes you get a photograph of Tim, I wasn’t there. I didn’t go because I didn’t want to add to the numbers. Obviously, His Excellency was waving the finishing the finishing flag for him. And I thought there would be a few people there and I didn’t want to add to the number, but I’ve seen the photographs. Hopefully, the photographs are taken in such a way that it might look as if people were a lot closer than they actually were. I’m trusting people to get it right. There will be more of these sorts of events in the future. And it really is up to people to take that responsibility. As I’ve said today, we’ve had a young person, it was a teenager. It wasn’t a young child yesterday, who caught the Coronavirus. What I’m trying to share is that any one of us can get this illness from any age group. And therefore we cannot be complacent. Just because we’re, I don’t know, under 30 I have to exclude myself from that category, sadly, but it’s not just people of a certain age who are going to get this illness, all sorts can get it. This wasn’t someone from a care home. It wasn’t someone from a hospital. It was just a member, a young adult member of our public who caught it, anyone can get it. And therefore these sorts of gatherings to celebrate a fantastic achievement. I don’t think I could do one marathon let alone 19. But to do that, raise 60 plus thousand pounds. for good causes for the Isle of Man for the main solidarity fund is a phenomenal achievement. It deserves the respect and support it got. And I know driving back to my office because I still had to hold on to that that day. It because it was on Tuesday, it’s there was people along the road who socially distance and showing their support. So I just think people have to remain being sensible photographs can upset people I know I get regularly get sent photographs. And when I look into it, the police will say, well, we were there and we were content. or a colleague will say, Well, I was on that promenade and everything seemed okay. So I’m just, you know, yes, there was maybe more people than I would have hoped at the event. But I am hopeful that they all maintain the two metre distancing
Tim Glover 30:54
is also the fact so it was could be deemed as one of these public gatherings that we’re obviously having great restrictions aren’t alone. Yeah.
Howard Quayle 31:03
Yeah, we’ve got it. We’ve got to be careful. It was it was borderline. It’s happened. It’s been a fantastic event. Fast, fantastic achievement. I just asked people to respect the space of people around them. I think because I’ve asked, I’ve given you so much information. I’m more than happy to take an additional question today from each of you. So, if we want to go back to Chris, do Would you like to ask a question? Yes, please. Just
Tim Glover 31:29
in terms of the roadmap when can Manx residents expect this all Ireland 40 mile per hour speed limits be lifted?
Howard Quayle 31:38
That’s something that we’re we’ve asked the medics to review at the moment. I have received a couple of emails from people who see this as a cynical ploy by the government to implement it and never take it away. That was not the case. We will be reviewing it in the near future. It was purely brought in to stop the number of accidents whilst we didn’t know Where we were with the virus at one stage, we didn’t know who had it where it was the numbers in society, we brought into my wife, it was really sensible measures, which ensured that we’ve significantly reduced accidents on the island and therefore kept beds empty at nobles hospital, but we have no intention of keeping the speed limit all Island at 40 miles an hour. I just want to reassure people of that, and obviously it will be on the advice of our medics when we are able to make changes to the 40 miles an hour but we will it’s not some you know, theory that government wants to be the big brother with with the public and keep it at 40. That’s not in my mind. It was done purely for Coronavirus measures, and we will be making the changes as soon as possible.
Josh Stokes 32:49
Howard Quayle 32:51
Simon, do you I do have another question. Are you okay?
Unknown Speaker 32:57
No, if I’m a chief minister, yes, I would like to attend Issue testing. We’ve heard obviously, that the results are very positive at the moment, very few cases are being recorded. But the number of tests still seems to be on the low side. Is it not the case now to really hammer home why they have the advantage and increase testing to as much as we can?
Howard Quayle 33:17
Well, we are testing obviously, everyone who is admitted into the hospital. That’s something quite a few other jurisdictions haven’t done. We’ve done it since the sixth of April. So we’re already doing that. We’re already testing everyone who rings up the 111 line, but we are in such a good position that we’re not getting that many referrals anymore from the 111 line. And we have now started put in place measures to do key workers care homes, etc. And I’m sure the health minister will be able to give you further details on that topic tomorrow, Simon when he’s giving his update. Thank you very much. Josh, did you have a question?
Josh Stokes 33:56
Yes. Thanks, Chief Minister. Just a question. I’ve had someone contact about some clarity on key workers who would usually commute to the UK for work. Can you just explain what the current rules are for those people who live here and would usually work overseas, and if they travel off Island, are they able to get back on? Well, they have to self isolate at home for 14 days before they then go back over to the UK.
Howard Quayle 34:17
Yeah, thanks for that, Josh. Yes, if you are classified as a key worker in the United Kingdom, we have accepted United Kingdom key workers rules for the island because we are expecting as an island key workers to come over to our island and help us when we set up the oxygen plants we had to bring over UK key workers to do the final testing on that plant. There are a number of key workers that we will need on the promenade specialist welding on certain pipes needs. It’s a specialist skill. So if we expect key workers from the UK to come over then if we have residents on the Isle of Man who are classified as Key workers by the United Kingdom, then they are allowed to go off to do their job, they can come back now that we brought in the extra sailing with the increased numbers, the waiting time should be down to a minimal amount, but they will have to isolate for the 14 days at home or in a location if they’re unable to do that. So if they need to go off the island in a shorter period of time, then of course, that if we if they’re leaving, then that’s fine. But they will have to follow the rules. But so I hope that’s as clear as I can be Josh on that,
Josh Stokes 35:37
yes, sorry. I just to be clear on that. So if they come back over and they and they do wish to obviously go back to work over in the UK, they don’t have to stay in the Isle of Man 14 days before they can then go back to the UK?
Howard Quayle 35:48
No, because they will be going straight off the island. They wouldn’t be mixing with people that have been going straight off. So now they wouldn’t have to stay for the 14 days in isolation. Okay, and finally, Tim, do you have another question, Tim?
Tim Glover 35:59
Yeah. This reflects obviously a great delight in the comments. We’re getting on the Manx radio feed of people saying go see beauticians and have their hair done. But for those businesses, presumably they’re going to have less customers because there’s going to be certain amounts of, of cleaning and making sure the premises work. So they’re going to be viable as a business with less customers is the question we’re being asked.
Howard Quayle 36:25
Well, I suppose that’s they will have to work that out. Yes, they will have to keep a keep a record of who they’ve seen, what guidelines will be put on our website, explaining to people how they can do this by following the rules that the equipment they must have. And I think as long as they follow those rules, then they should be able to carry on with their business. We are looking at models in other jurisdictions who have implemented this to see how it’s worked. So they might not be able to see the large the same numbers that they had in place. Beforehand, but I would hope that they would still be able to do a significant number of people. But what we’re asking is to have PP equipment, follow the guidelines and keep a record of who their customers are to enable us that should there be a flare up, then we can contact those peoples straight away. So it’s trying to be as helpful as possible. It’s happened sooner than I think most of us thought it would happen. But the the data and our capacity has been so good. That and the fact that the great Manx public have followed through so well and really flatten the curve that we are in this position, but it is up to people to respect those. The guidelines and the advice that we are giving to ensure that we do keep the curve down and the cases ticking along the bottom at nought or one a day. I mean, nothing would give me greater pleasure than to save maybe 20 days on the bounce. We’ve had no cases. I think we’re down to less than 10 people who are At this moment in time, but as we’ve just seen, we’ve had a young adult declared yesterday with them as having it. So just shows anyone can get it. You don’t have to be a care worker or in one of our hotspots, so we’ve got to be careful. Thank you, Tim. Well, thank you all very much. I’ve received a lot of letters and emails and some people tell me that we are moving too fast in relaxing measures. Some people tell me that we are going too slowly, and that we need to get back to normality as soon as possible. From the start, this has been a series of wicked balances. We are doing our best to get it right. Will there be a spike in positive cases as a result of the changes and measures that have taken placed in this week? Maybe whenever there is increased contact between people, there is increased risk, but we could not and cannot stay locked down forever. The damage we would do to our health our economy Our community, what have led to permanent scarring. I have confidence that we will get through this. It is a journey that we have been taking together since March. It has not been easy, but we are getting there. Let’s put our best foot forward. Please keep safe and keep your loved ones safe. Remember the basics. Keep your distance, respect other people’s space. The future is in your hands. Thank you all very much.
10 weeks ago, there was a widespread acknowledgement that we needed to think local, act local and buy local and the army has responded well over this period. Now we need to keep going with this mantra as our businesses open up. Your support now for local businesses will help stabilise our economy. It will help maintain jobs, and it will create opportunity. Please, I ask if you’re going to spend your money, think local, act local and buy local. Of course as we approach the summer season, we’ll hope that the virus will remain suppressed, and we can open up more of our businesses and industries. Given all the uncertainty, it is likely that many of you may now choose to spend your summer breaks and holidays on the island. A well planned staycation this year will be an added bonus to the domestic economy. And I know that my colleagues in the department for enterprise will be considering how this opportunity can be maximised within the framework of government rules and regulations on Coronavirus. Of course more broadly, the government must also play its part In regaining momentum in our economy, we are working now on developing our plan to push vital government spending programmes forward, and assessing how specific support programmes can be delivered to those sectors who may be continuing to struggle. Yesterday Lawrence Skelly confirmed our plans for high speed fibre will be rolled out across the island by Manx Telecom. And we need to get on with this as fast as we can. We will review our capital spending programmes now to bring forward relevant and prioritised investment in our key assets and infrastructure. We will re energise our initiatives to attract businesses to the island, and we will examine our financial support schemes that will be vital in aiding and developing our existing businesses. We will bring all this together in a in a short to medium economics, not short to medium term economic strategy, which will be brought before Tynwald at the earliest opportunity. We need to support new business opportunities Help existing businesses adapt business models, and we need to create new jobs. I do not want to render estimate that there is a significant challenge ahead of us. We all know that. But there is no reason not to be optimistic that the island can pull together and bringing our economy back to life. It will be tough. But as much as we have relied on each other to suppress and contain the virus and protect health, we now need to rely on each other to get back to work and to rebuild the economy. At some point, we have to let go of fear and start to embrace the New Living and Working with Coronavirus. However you choose to do that. We need to all play our part in supporting our local economy, supporting local businesses and supporting local jobs. Thank you very much and I will now take any questions starting with Manx radio and Tim Glover. Good afternoon Tim
Tim Glover 6:59
festival in May. Mr. Last Friday, you were giving evidence to the Public Accounts Committee and you said that the overall cost of the schemes was lower than you anticipated. Where does jobs secret and you mentioned there are over 1000 jobs have been saved by the support packages? Where does Jobseeker’s allowance factor it into the calculations as unemployment in April? stands at 1347 arise? just shy of 918 months, and obviously another cost to bear for government.
Alf Cannan 7:31
Yeah, so I mean, combined, so we haven’t featured that figure in today’s briefing are focused on the mirror that makes earnings replacement allowance. So we have 2188 people on mirror we have just over 1300 people on job seekers, their large numbers, Tim, it’s hard to understand at the moment, the true relevance of the data until we start to get all our sectors back to work when we do that. The mist will effectively start to list and we’ll see the true extent of unemployment and those needing to find new jobs. So it’s a figure that we are very conscious of, you know, clearly you look at these figures with with some alarm. But you also have to recognise that as we start to get people back to work, you should see some decline. As things level out. Once the sectors are back, once the support schemes start to lift them, we’ll get a true feel for how damaged we are or how much we’re going to suffer from an unemployment clearly, it would be remiss not to accept that there’s going to be higher levels of unemployment. 1300 Plus is a figure I think that we can deal with if it gets higher than that, as we, you know, as we go through this, then, clearly we’ll have much more pressure to work out how best we can rescale our workforce where those opportunities exist, what we need to do from an educational perspective and retraining perspective.
Tim Glover 9:03
Can I just follow up on that this particular question is around 900, a figure that you would have expected in the opening two months of job losses, because we all knew there were going to be job losses.
Alf Cannan 9:18
Hey, it’s it was just too hard to really determine that, Tim, you know, you expected the finger to rise on a 1300 or so which is on the job seekers, they’re not figures that we haven’t dealt with. Previously, in fact, you know, before this government came in, or just as this government came in, or just slightly beforehand, those figures were about 1300. So we can deal with that kind of level in terms of, as I said, focusing on new opportunities within the economy looking at retraining rescaling, clearly as you move up the scale and get further further numbers. Beyond the 2000 figure up to two and a half thousand a job becomes much more complex if you like and then we need to understand how best to direct government spending what the government needs to do. To create as many opportunities as possible.
Tim Glover 10:04
And can I tend to Douglas prominent one of those capital projects back in November last year, it was revealed costs was signalling for the track crossing the road at the war memorial to the single track to the C terminal. We’re about a million pounds and it wasn’t included in the overall scheme budget. We then found out that Jeffrey Robinson at the next strategic meeting wanted the scheme to have the lowest possible costs even at the risk of compromise to the horse tram service. Well, just following that money, it seems the single track to the scenes ctm on spinning down. Well before Coronavirus, appeared as Treasury put a big squeeze on the project so it appears to cover as close to budget as possible. Even if this is against the original world Tim old
Alf Cannan 10:51
no Treasury has not put a big squeeze on the project we authorise the budget and the last we authorise As the amounts to spent expenditure in the last budget, and, you know, the Department of infrastructure are well aware that any overspend that they they might incur on this project will need to be found from within their existing plans and projects. But we haven’t put a big squeeze on on the Department for infrastructure. I think they have taken a sensible view on that project, what needs to be done to get it done within the circumstances that we’re living in to take the opportunity or perhaps a lack of tourists or lack of visitor accommodation being utilised during this period to complete the promenade and that’s very much an operational decision to get on with it and to alter the scheme plans as they’ve outlined.
Unknown Speaker 11:47
Alf Cannan 11:49
Thanks very much, Tim energy FM Chris cave.
Unknown Speaker 11:53
Tim Glover 11:55
As you mentioned the importance of buying local encourage people To have staycations the impact this pandemic is going to have on many industries will be severe and long lasting, not least for the tourism and hospitality trades. There’s often talk about a new normal, and that causes further worry for owners of restaurants, pubs and clubs that people may still be discouraged and feel unsafe about going out once this virus has passed. In that case, are there any considerations to ease the impact of this for those industries, for instance, government subsidy on alcohol duty perhaps.
Alf Cannan 12:33
So the purpose of announcing today that these the salary support scheme, which is very much the pillar of the support mechanisms that’s providing a lot of valued support to our businesses is going to be extended is to give as many businesses every every opportunity to get back on their feet over the next 12 week period effectively through to the end of August. What we will need to do then is consider Almost on a sectorial basis, sector by sector, what might need to be done to help support those sectors through an extended period to allow them every opportunity? You know, clearly there are challenges. There are challenges for a lot of businesses, but for our leisure businesses or hospitality industry, these challenges are going to be increased because of the rules and that are going to be in place, particularly around social distancing. And they will need to adapt to that. So government’s going to have to pay very close attention to the impact on that. And we need to try and find ways around that. And I think the businesses and the business models will probably need to adapt, but you know, we will consider how to support these sectors on an ongoing basis. You know, once they get back once we can see the levels of trading that they’re at once we can understand a bit more about the obstacles that they’re facing, and then we need to make some broader decisions as to what level of support and I’m what context do we do we support each each business sector.
Tim Glover 14:06
But just to clarify, you are working on further support packages for these people in the hospitality industries, as if they do have to keep social distancing measures in place, once the virus has passed, their business could be down and they could still struggle.
Alf Cannan 14:25
Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, we’re looking at a range of economic factors at the moment. And the most important thing for us, generally, is to make sure that we have a high level strategic economic plan that is really delivering on the ground delivering maximum value to to sustain jobs and create jobs and that’s what we’re going to be bringing forward in the next next couple of weeks, I hope and as soon as that package together we’ll be bringing that to Tim wall to to gain their support. And I went as I said, then we will need to look at these sectors. on a case by case basis and try and understand and know what level of government support should be available or what framework government needs to put in place to give the biz the individual businesses an equal and fair chance of making it through and adjusting their business models and adapting to this new normal that everybody’s talking about.
Tim Glover 15:25
Okay, there was, as has already been said, expect his record number of those registered unemployed last month. How quickly do you forecast this number to come down to what are regarded as the usual levels of unemployment and how do you plan to mobilise the workforce?
Alf Cannan 15:43
Well, it’s very hard to say where we expect unemployment to be as I outlined to Tim earlier, we do expect I think, initially to see people getting back to their jobs, but then of course, in a wash this was the support systems in place, it may mask to a certain degree what the what the actual reality is on the on the ground perhaps as those support starts to fall away, as businesses get back on their feet, then we’ll get a true picture of the unemployment level, I’m certainly not going to predict where that will be. But suffice to say it will be significantly higher than where we’ve got it to. Before this all started and bear in mind, we’ve brought it down to its lowest level for some 20 years. The key then will be to us understanding what we need to do to rescale people understand where the new opportunities align, where businesses are developing business opportunities, and then we will start to understand what we need to do as a government to help facilitate that and to get people back into, into into work.
Thank you. Thank you, Chris. So Simon Richardson at business three Six Five.
Josh Stokes 17:03
Good afternoon, Mr. Cannon. Good afternoon. My first question
Alf Cannan 17:06
government’s purchase. Sorry, government’s purchase of the steam packet company. It’s looking like an inspired decision at this time. But given the turmoil in the aviation industry and the real possibility that when the crisis ends, we may have virtually no flights between the other man in the UK has government reconsidered, setting up its own airline to safeguard services as Guernsey did some years ago.
Yeah, so again, the airline industry is under huge pressure at the moment. We all know that you know, the government is maintaining a framework of air links at the moment, a small framework of air links with flights to London and Liverpool. But in our we need to understand in the next few weeks, the airlines plan predominately what our main carriers are or EZ jets plans are for example. And once we understand what while there will have one, then we will need again need then need to understand what government’s plan needs to be I’m not going to dismiss unnecessarily that government needs to take a more proactive stance in this space. But I think we do need to give the airline industry some opportunity to present to the island what its plans are and clearly one would expect initially, some sort of phased return to a new normal in terms of so I think that remains uncertain. It’s far too early really for me, Simon to give any firm commitment other than to say again, this is another area that we are looking at incredibly carefully.
Unknown Speaker 18:58
You’re not against the patient.
Alf Cannan 19:02
I think the government, we need to things are changing frameworks are changing the way we’ve done things in the past or the positions that we adopted pre COVID are not necessarily the positions that we will have to adopt afterwards. In all honesty, I think from an airline industry perspective, I would prefer us to have a stable carrier providing us with well priced travel options. And clearly to balance alongside that one hopes that our purchase of the steam packet will also prove to be an inspired decision. And I hope that actually as the future progresses, we understand a bit more about the balance we will need to adopt between sea and air travel and be realistic and in our ambitions I guess for services to and from the islands certainly in the short to medium term, but in a given all the uncertainty in the end In the airline industry, given the need for us as an island to maintain our critical transport links, to ensure that our people are able to get off the island that our businesses are able to operate, then, clearly, you know, we pay very, very close attention to the options that are opening up in front of us trying to understand a bit more about what framework we will be left with. And we need to we obviously speak closely to the airlines and, you know, if necessary, then government would consider taking a more more proactive step if it felt for any reason that the island would not be left with appropriate links, but it’s very early days on that Simon.
Yeah. Okay. Thank you. And secondly, is the figure in the UK is recovery that you have in mind, where you would think that you would be satisfied to consider reopening Air Services and You’re reopening the island?
internationally? Yeah, I look, I mean, we’ve taken on and we’ve relied a lot on the advice and data that’s been coming through and being provided by our healthcare professionals. In our we are managing that’s very much about border management, that question. We are managing our borders in the most appropriate way. And we have slowly but surely started to understand what we are capable of, and what we need to do to have an appropriate system for our residents. I’m sure that that’s going to continue to progress in in the coming weeks. But, you know, and I think I’ll probably leave it at that. I think, you know, for me to answer that question. That means really sort of having open borders and at the moment, we’re committed to protecting people’s health on the island. We’re committed to residents only Travel, we’re progressing that and we’re going to continue to progress that in the coming weeks. And, again, as we move forward, it’ll be something for us to consider what actions the UK for example, are undertaking what actions other countries are, are undertaking. Clearly we don’t want to be left completely out of the loop in terms of accessibility to to travel, but we do obviously want to be in a position to ensure that certainly on an ongoing short to medium term basis, we’re protecting our own residents living on the island as much as as much as possible.
Unknown Speaker 22:37
Thank you very much.
Alf Cannan 22:40
And finally, Josh Stokes from ITV. Josh.
Josh Stokes 22:44
Good afternoon minister. You’ve spoken today about extending the schemes by 12 weeks. I’m just wondering how does that directly coincide with the phase return to work? Do you have a name of what phase you hope to reach by the 12th week in reference to the medium term response documents, because otherwise presumably the schemes may have to be extended again, if phase five of hospitality isn’t reached by them.
Alf Cannan 23:05
Yeah, there’s no definitive timescales. We are doing our best to act with what we can see in front of us. And as it stands today, and in the last couple of weeks, we can feel confident that we’ve suppressed the virus we contain that we’ve got the right facilities in place. And as I’ve mentioned, many times the health service is well prepared to deal with anybody who needs to go into the hospital for treatment. So there’s no timescales attached. As we’re currently progressing. One would feel confident that we are going to get more businesses back to work, and then we’re going to do that and a relatively healthy timescale. I certainly would not be expecting outstanding businesses towards the back end of July, in terms of return, so I would have expected that majority the vast majority of our businesses should be back at least a month before the extension of these schemes based on the current tracking of the virus and the current performance levels. And we should feel at some point, you have to take a confident optimistic approach that actually know the islands got this under control, there’s very little evidence to say that we shouldn’t be optimistic now that we shouldn’t be confident about the situation on the ground, and that we shouldn’t be confident that we can get most of it or all of our businesses back and back and operating in the next few weeks, rather than wait for the end of these, you know, the period outline towards the end of these schemes.
Josh Stokes 24:39
And presumably, if all those phases do come together, as you say, within the 12 weeks, then the next thing would be borders opening.
Alf Cannan 24:49
Now again, you know, as I’ve just just outlined to Simon, we are very careful with the border situation. You know, the important thing is we’ve got to choose to progress through this, we’ve got to work out how to manage the borders effectively, we’ve got clearly cognizant that residents on this island, you know, whilst everybody wants to be protected, there’s also very good reason for people to come to and from the island, whether that’s on compassionate grounds, whether that’s on commercial grounds, or what, for whatever. Other reason, we can’t just say sort of locked down forever. we’re managing now, I think we’re managing that in a way so that we’re becoming more confident, more understanding of what needs to be done. And, you know, when I think the document talks about borders, open unit, one also has to recognise that we may only have that open to a limited capacity. So that question is very much at the forefront of the Council of Ministers minds at the moment about how we manage the border going forward, how we offer the best protection possible to ensure that we don’t slip back and allow The virus to come onto the island effectively are noticed if you like as much as possible. Clearly, there’s always risk in that the answer to that is smooth, effective, efficient, proper testing and controls at the border. And as I said, we’re working through that. We recognise there’s quite a lot of pressure in this area. However, we’re doing it in our own time, in terms of ensuring that we are prepared to protect the island as much as we possibly can.
Josh Stokes 26:31
Okay, just off the back of that, there’s a second question, isn’t there a real opportunity to potentially boost the tourist rate on the island as we slowly start to move out of the pandemic? Jubilee people won’t be travelling long distances for a while, and the old man may seem like a potential holiday destination for many more people they did. So is this something you’re looking at from a financial perspective? Maybe, you know, take benefit from that?
Alf Cannan 26:53
Well, I alluded to it in my opening remarks, Josh, that actually, you know, is likely the international travel will will be curtailed. It’s hard to understand what holiday options will be available for people and I accept that a lot of people will be thinking that this summer is actually the best option for them maybe to stay at home. There could be opportunities for us in that. We need to draw up and understand what the scale of opportunity is. But the message is actually for people who are considering a staycation and this is the perfect time for people to think about a staycation if we can maintain the control levels on the virus at the current existing rates, if we can open up more businesses, if we can understand exactly what where we need to be safely in terms of levels of gatherings, and we can open up our restaurants and our leisure businesses and the answer the question is actually we could recover some ground. You know if we take that what would have been off Island holiday spend and convert that to an island holiday And then people take that opportunity for a staycation and look to explore and maximise the opportunities that exist for them to have a break on the on the island.
Josh Stokes 28:11
Okay, thank you.
Alf Cannan 28:12
Great. Okay. Well, thank you very much. Oh, Tim is waving at me. Sorry. Apologies, Tim.
Tim Glover 28:18
Yeah, I’ve just wanted to ask about the take chances, comments, recently seen that who’s warned of a severe recession and quote, the likes of which we’ve never seen? Obviously, the UK is our biggest trading partner. The effects are likely to ripple through it. So the the economy, how much of a concern is that and argue and I know you’re not going to give me an answer. But is it under consideration, a change in income tax rates? I think
Alf Cannan 28:46
in short term, I mean, again, I’ll be delivering a budget statement, a budget update, and a statement in July and I’ll outline exactly any plans that the Treasury has one has to recognise at that stage we’ll have a better understanding of the impact on our economy and and got on government revenues. As I’ve said quite a quite a few times, it’s not really the just the cost of the schemes that we’re delivering, per se. It’s the impact in terms of any loss of revenue that we will see, both from VAT, customs and excise and of course, income tax and National Insurance. So, once we get a better position, once we understand that, then we’ll be in a better position to deliver a much more meaningful statement around what sort of actions that the government is taking. But you know, I’m pretty clear now that we need, we don’t want to regress on the island, we don’t want to take negative steps that are going to impact on our development, if anything we want to look ahead positively to try and work out how best to to get out of this to get people back to work and to support businesses through through what is forecasted. A tricky 12 to possibly 18 month period depending on on who you talk to, I mean that the fact is the UK is already in recession. And I bought like us, they have still got support schemes schemes going, they are likely to continue it would appear through to the autumn those schemes and again, you know, as time moves forward, you begin to get a better understanding of where you’re going to see the the impacts on this. So for example, today, you saw Rolls Royce announcing that 9000 jobs are to go globally. You know, and clearly one then asked the question about what sort of impact that might have on manufacturing on the on the island what we then might need to do, you know, in terms of reacting to those types of moves, and I think the island is in is in a strong position in terms of our finances, we’ve generally we’ve got robust finances, and we are going to support that spending. And we’ve already made it clear that we’re going to go borrow syndicated borrow of 250 million pounds, you know, and that money was initially thought to be there for cash flow purposes, but it is equally that we may well find parts of that money to be used to support the economy. But as I said, it’ll be July. Before I need before I’m in a position to issue a proper meaningful statement that will really outline how we can meet the challenges of a UK recession. And what we need to do to support our economy going forward proactively, hopefully, without regressing back, and we’ve had a challenging 10 year period 2008 to 2018 2019. And I just before this virus came about, you know, many ways there’s a lot of positive indicators people was starting to get proper pay rises again, had more pounds in their pocket effectively, to span and of course, we had unemployment at 20 year, low point. We don’t want to lose the progress that we’ve made in that four years and then have to suffer another decade of struggle. So we’re looking to try and avoid that and go forward as positively as possible. And obviously, there may be some adjustments possibly in terms of what we need to do as a government in terms of collection revenue collection, but we don’t want to regress, that will be my message, press. Thank you. Thank you very much indeed. And enjoy the rest of your day.