This is a very rough and unverified transcript of the Isle of Man Government’s Coronavirus Media Briefing held on Thursday 1 April 2021. In particular, for any legal guidance, you should seek advice from official sources.
You should not rely heavily upon it — it is transcribed by an automated speech recognition service, and I cannot guarantee its accuracy. Any local Manx words (especially in Gaelic) are more likely to be inaccurate. Also, the automated speech recognition service often converts proper nouns incorrectly (especially the spoken words “Isle of Man” to “Ireland” or “all of man”).
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Howard Quayle 0:00
Well, good afternoon, everyone. And thank you for joining us today. I am here at the podium with the Minister for Education, sport and culture. Our Director of Public Health joins us on Zoom, as does the Minister for Health and Social Care. I do want to brief you on some important decisions we took at the Council of Ministers this morning. Before I do so, let me hand over to the Minister of Health and Social Care for his update on today’s data. I know he has a couple of points to cover. David.
David Ashford 0:28
Thank you very much, Chief Minister. The total number of tests undertaken is 46,894. The total number of tests concluded is also 46,894, meaning the lab was processed all the test results at the time of the snapshot that they had had through in the last 24 hours, we have identified one new case which is from a known source. That means the total number of cases now stands at 1570. There are currently 294 active cases of those active cases for in hospital non in ICU. A couple of points I want to touch on today. Firstly terms the vaccination programme, we have now delivered over 52,000 doses of vaccine with over 36,000 of our population have received one dose, all letters for the priority groups have now gone out, which is everyone over 50 and in the clinically vulnerable categories. If you have received your letter, I would urge you to register as early as possible. This can be done either by calling 111 or registering online at COVID-19 dot gov dot i am forward slash vaccine ridge. We have now started to dispatch the next two groups of letters which cover those aged 40 to 49. Again, people in those two cohorts are now able to register online for the vaccine. And I would urge them to start doing so. Sticking with vaccines for a moment, just a reminder that if someone has tested positive for COVID, or is required to isolate, then they count and must not attend any vaccination appointment that may be booked. They need to speak to 111 and have their appointment rearranged for once their isolation has ended. This ensures the safety of those going through the hopes and staff working there as well. Those in isolation will still be vaccinated. But their appointments must not take place while they are isolated or we call recovering from COVID-19. Obviously, in the current global pandemic, much of the focus has quite rightly been on COVID-19. But we must also not forget about other medical conditions that also carry great importance. If anyone has any symptoms of all the diseases, particularly cancer where people may have lumps, bumps, growths, etc. that they don’t normally have, then they should contact their GP at the earliest possible opportunity. People should continue to seek day to day medical help for any conditions that they are concerned about. So if you notice something out of the ordinary, don’t delay due to the pandemic, seek the medical help and assist systems in the same way that you would in normal times. Thank you, Chief Minister.
Howard Quayle 3:17
Thank you very much, David. Over the last week, the data has all been heading in the right direction. The Rolling averages have been dropping in a way that suggests to us that this outbreak is under control. And that this has of course been our goal from the outset. Local elimination of what we idea is what we ideally want to see, at least until our vaccination programme has made a little more progress. But for now, I am pleased that the current outbreak for the moment at least seems to be on its last legs. It was only 25 days ago when we saw 114 cases in a single day. Just two weeks ago, we had 865 active cases 843 in the community, and 22 in hospital. Today, things are different with 294 active cases. And that number decreasing every day. It is starting to feel like the beginning of a new chapter. I know people will have been disappointed that we saw a single unknown case this week I was to the contact tracing team have been working hard to try to understand where the infection came from. And importantly, if there has been any onward transmission. They have carried out surge testing around the individual concerned given what the individual has told us and our analysis of the context. We have a reasonably high level of assurance that this chain is now contained. We always knew there would be a risk of odd cases popping up and the contact tracing team was ready to move quickly. We may not know for certain if the chain has been broken only time tell for sure. But from what we know today, we are cautiously optimistic. I will come on to the decisions taken by the Council of Ministers this morning. Before I do, I would like to invite our Director of Public Health to give us her update, Dr. Ewart.
Henrietta Ewart 5:16
Thank you, Chief Minister, if I can pick up first on the community case that we couldn’t link back to any known cases earlier this week, we are very confident that we’ve contained the risk of forward spread through the identification of the close contacts of the case. But as always, with a sporadic community case, with no known links further back in the chain, there is still the risk of wider transmission in the community, which our contact traces would not be able to identify through the contacts of the case. So that means that we really do need everybody to continue to be very vigilant for symptoms, and should they develop them to stay at home and contact 111 for assessment and testing, because we just can’t guarantee that we have closed off everything that might be out in the community. Really, at the point before we identified this case. In terms of where we are overall, as Chief Ministers said, the curves are all coming down very, very nicely now. And quite rapidly, which is very gratifying. The curves, obviously you can see on the website, and you can interrogate them, they’re interactive to see how the numbers have been changing over time. Another indicator that is important for us an important to take into consideration when we think about relaxing some of the measures is the test positivity rate. So that’s the percentage of tests each day that are positive. And we’ve now come down to under 1%. Today about tests being positive, which means the test numbers overall are staying up very well. But the percentage of positives is now very low. And that indicates that we’re not missing large numbers of pockets of infection out in community. And just to pick up further on that point, the World Health Organisation recommends that once you get down to positivity rate of 5% or less, that’s a reasonable point at which you can start thinking about relaxing some of the control measures. So that’s just another indicator that is going in the right direction. Thank you.
Howard Quayle 7:33
Thank you, doctor you it. So on to this morning’s Council of Ministers Meeting. Together with advice from our Director of Public Health and other senior officers. We consider the data of the last two weeks, we were briefed on the context around the unknown case on the 29th of March. And we heard about the status of our hospital, which I’m pleased to report has been able to start its journey back to business as usual. We also carefully considered the intense strain that our community is under from this and previous lockdowns, we know that people not being able to see their loved ones is incredibly hard. We need to take our mental health as seriously as our physical health. As I said in 10 mould around a year ago, I am worried about the scars this pandemic has already caused, and those which we have not yet seen. But and there is a boat, we need to balance this with our wish for a transition out of a lockdown to be a one way journey. I certainly do not want us to go through this again. We are not ready to end the lockdown. But we do want to do what we can to lighten the load. For some time now we have been talking about a gradual and self exit and safe exit from measures more than maybe ever before. Baby Steps has to be the right approach for the situation we are in today. So this is why the Council of Ministers decided this morning, a slow and steady journey back towards the relative no man relative normality that we enjoyed for more than 200 days over the last year. We heard this morning that the relative risk of the virus spreading in outdoor environments is significantly lower than indoor. It is lower again if social distancing and good hygiene is followed and lower again if face coverings are used. We therefore agreed that with effect from first thing tomorrow morning, we are ready for you to meet people from other households outdoors. We cannot yet permit house door household mixing indoors where the risks are much higher. For the moment we will also be limiting outdoor gatherings to 10 people. We need people to see this for what it is. This is for family and friends to see each other. This is to make these tough days that little bit easier. But please just so this has ABS salutely clear. This is meeting up outdoors. Please don’t be tempted to pop inside. And please do everything you can to keep your distance and wear a face covering if you can. If we get this right and get through another week of low or no new cases, we may be able to go further. I hope this helps to bring our community a little bit closer together again, on a personal level, I know how much I’m looking forward to sitting in my parents guarding garden and catching up with them. You may remember that last spring, one of the first things we were able to open up again, what’s the construction sector and related trades. We decided this morning that we are ready for this to resume on the sixth of April after the Easter weekend. for construction that is outdoors. This can resume as long as good practice on social distancing and face covering is respected. Some work that is indoors is already permitted. Given the difference in risk between outdoors and indoors, we are only going to change the measures slightly. From the sixth of April, we are ready to raise the limit for work on a vacant property to one person per room. Again, rules on social distancing and the use of face coverings must be respected to ensure a safe working environment. In line with this, we are also ready for garden centres to open from the sixth of April, with social distancing in place, and face coverings strongly recommended, and some retailers may insist on this. This mirrors the position we had in January of this year. We wanted it to be as familiar as possible. And detailed guidance will be available later today. And we’re already talking to industry representatives. Another important aspect of returning to a more normal society will be the return to school and preschool for our young people. I know you are keen to know what the situation might look like after the Easter holidays. So let me hand over to the Minister of Education, sport and culture to take you through our current thinking. Alex,
Alex Allinson 12:10
thank you. As we start along the road to recovery, we must make sure that every step forward doesn’t risk two steps backwards at a later stage. As the chief minister has announced restrictions will be eased this weekend. At the start of this outbreak, we had to close all schools, nurseries and UCM. I’m sorry for the stress this caused for children and their families. I’ve been so impressed by the resilience shown by young people to engage in remote learning and thankful to our teachers who have kept our education system going. Our aim is that all schools and UCM will reopen on Monday the 12th of April after these the holiday. The opening up of schools it of course will be dependent on the infection rates continuing to decline and the latest advice from the public health Directorate. If nearer the time the infection risk is considered high. The Department for Education sport and culture will aim to open primary schools from Tuesday the 13th of April, in a phased approach initially for vulnerable children and those of essential workers who need to attend their place of work to keep our island safe and operational. in respect of secondary schools, our aim will be to gradually reopen them to students on the 13th initially to selected year 11 and 13 students who are required to undertake further work and assessments in school, which will then enable their teachers to accurately grade their performance for external exam boards. This has to be completed by the 21st of May. These youth groups may need to attend school in a staggered or part time manner in order to allow for their teachers to have sufficient time to have face to face contact with them whilst maintaining social distance. When those students are not required to attend school, they will continue to carry out their studies through remote learning at home. The level of operational detail about how many on what day students will attend will be down to the individual school and this will be communicated quite clearly to them and their parents in respective nurseries playgroups and childminders. The department is working closely with our colleagues in the department of health and social care to plan how they can reopen safely. It is envisaged that this will be aligned to schools. All our decisions will continue to be made on the most up to date evidence of the health situation on our island and advice from clinicians and the Director of Public Health. We remain committed to do everything possible to ensure the safety of our pupils and our staff. Thank you, Chief Minister.
Howard Quayle 14:47
Thank you very much Alex. Getting our young people back to school as soon as it is safe to do so has to be a top priority for us. These are the changes that we’re able to announce today. We still you Need you to work from home where you can, we still need you to keep your distance and respect other space. And please wear a face covering as much as possible. As I said the lockdown is not over. But we are now on what we aim to be a steady safe one way journey. We will keep all these measures under regular review. As we have said on a number of occasions, we will only keep measures in place for as long as they are necessary. So tomorrow we can resume some outdoor activities. From the week beginning the 12th. We hope our schools will start a phased return and then subject to the situation remaining under control, we can look to a broader reopening on around the 19th of April. That is our hope. But as ever, I do need to be clear that things can change fast. If we need to slow this transition, we will whether this is a light touch on the breaks or a complete halt. Let’s hope we won’t need to. And it would be wrong for me to stand here and promise that all restrictions or social distancing, and all face coverings will be gone from the 19th of April, we will have to see where the data takes us. Before we go to questions, I would like to share a more solemn moment with you. In so many societies the first of April is traditionally the time for fun and pranks. But for me, it will always be the anniversary of the most difficult speech I have ever had to give. It was the day last year that alongside his Excellency the left hand and Governor, I had to announce the first death on our island linked to this pandemic. I remember that moment well, and always well. It is for each of you to decide how to mark the sad anniversary. These things are very personal. I personally will take a quiet moment this evening and thought and prayer for all those who have lost a loved one over the last year. But I will also remember the incredible community spirit we have seen across our island over the last year. The challenges of these past 12 months are brought out the best of so many people. The generosity, resilience and strength of the great Manx public has been truly remarkable. And we must never forget that. Let’s take some questions. First I have is Paul Hardman from Isle of Man newspapers. Good afternoon, Paul, faster. My
Unknown Speaker 17:27
first my chief minister, my first question for yourself. Can you clarify what time period without unexplained cases is currently required? Fred’s team is locked down and has that single unexplained case detected on Tuesday, set the clock back to zero on this so to speak.
Howard Quayle 17:44
Well, all the time, we’re looking at this poll, we have still hoped that there might be a chance we can trace this this one case that work is still ongoing. I can’t say too much more than that, because it’s still down to an individual on that, and therefore I can’t generalise on, on that I’ll go into any more detail. I mean, we’ve always said in a perfect world 21 days before we come out of, of lockdown, with no unexplained cases in the community. So that’s where we hoped to to go, there may be a chance in the future if we keep on saying unexplained cases that by the time we get to say at the end of this month, if our vaccination programme, which is pushing nearly 50% of the population has has been done to cover all groups one to nine, then we may review that situation. So we set out our stall at the start of this lockdown. But in a way it’s a moving feast based on the data. I don’t have any offices. I’ll talk to you at once to expand on on that at all. Yes,
Henrietta Ewart 18:51
thank you, Chief Minister, just to say that this isn’t a purely mechanical kind of equation, you know, number of days equals x, action equals y. It’s very much about looking at a number of indicators and the context behind that. So you know, there is there are some technical definitions, which I think we’ve talked about before in previous briefings. And the final definition, if you like of when an outbreak is formally declared closed. And this doesn’t matter what sort of disease outbreak, it’s the generic definition for any any communicable disease outbreak, that’s 28 days. But that doesn’t mean to say that you wouldn’t relax any of your control measures. unless or until you reach that milestone, you can actually look at context or put your basket of indicators. So that’s not only number of days, but things like your positivity rate that I was mentioning just now. And you can also look at some of the things that you can relax that are the lowest risk end of the spectrum. And, you know, move slowly towards full relaxation rather than doing it in an all or nothing Kind of a way. Thank you.
Howard Quayle 20:02
I think it’s fair to say, Paul, we’re on a journey we are, we know we’re going to have to live with COVID for years to come. So total elimination was a strategy that worked well for us when there was no vaccination programme. But now we’re in the midst of a really good vaccination programme where our people are getting the support defence against this terrible virus with the vaccine. And therefore, as we get closer to more and more of our vulnerable groups of people getting their first job, and we can also celebrate all those people living in residential care nursing homes, having had two jobs, we can start to move out from the elimination of the disease on the island to living with it, which we will have to do for a number of years and, and obviously, we’re looking still looking at the end of the month, early next month to allowing family and friends to come and visit the Isle of Man before we come out and open up our borders, once we’ve vaccinated our people and the UK is in a similar position. Thanks very much for your next question.
Unknown Speaker 21:06
Same question for Dr. Brownson, considering the uncertain environment that students will be returned to school in and there are any provisions in place for rapid testing in schools, will there be any other safeguards such as PP or social distancing?
Unknown Speaker 21:21
Yeah, thanks. Thanks very much for
Alex Allinson 21:22
that question. We’ve certainly worked very closely with the Director of Public Health and with schools, right the way through these 1212 months to make schools as safe as possible. When students go back, there is a slight difference between primary and secondary children, primary children, it’s very hard to stop them hugging each other, we’ll do our best, but what we’re going to be doing is separating them into small groups trying to, um, create bubbles, education bubbles, so that we can stop the mixing too widely. We’ll also obviously be using the hand washing and hygiene measures. And the kids are really taken up on that in remarkably well, in terms of secondary schools. Again, it’s going on to basics, like social distancing, and hygiene, but also mask wearing and again, what we’ve seen over the last 12 months is more and more evidence that this can be really useful in terms of stopping transmission, and protecting communities. So that will be brought in as well. The main obvious way of protecting prevent transmission is if people feel unwell, you don’t go into school, you don’t go into work, you dial 111 and get the test. That’s how we’re going to root out any residual cases in our environment. But we know particularly amongst young people that COVID-19 can sometimes be asymptomatic. Obviously, in the United Kingdom, they’re doing trials in terms of using lateral flow tests, either at home or at school to screen children. But when you look at the data on that, it’s I’m not particularly convinced that it would help us in our situation. A recent Cochrane Review, published last week showed that in asymptomatic people lateral flow test might pick up about 58% of those who were actually infected. And we’ve got we know, we’ve got very low rates on the Isle of Man. And we’re a relatively small community. And most people, the vast majority are doing the right thing. So at the moment, there is no obvious there’s no obvious plans of doing routine testing on students and pupils coming into school. Because again, we’re particularly with younger children, many of them find this very uncomfortable, and quite distressing. We will be reviewing that we’re constantly reviewing the testing situation, what we have done is open up a pathway for anyone who works in schools who are concerned who may be asymptomatic to have the the gold standard PCR testing on a regular basis if they if they if they want it if they require it, to actually make sure that they’re safe, and that they’re not carrying the virus. And what we’re again the message will always be that if you feel unwell at the moment, please think that you may have this virus, please do not go into work. Don’t go into schools when they reopen, dial 111 and get tested. Thank you.
Howard Quayle 24:01
Thanks very much, Paul. Next, we have Rob Pritchard from three FM Good afternoon, Rob faster. My
Rob Pritchard (3FM) 24:08
estimate, Chief Minister, my first question just regarding your announcements of outdoor gatherings from tomorrow, you say it’s going to be groups of 10 as long as they follow the safety measures. If someone does meet up in a group, can they only meet with that same group of people later on? Or can that be with any group of people after that, as long as they adhere to the maximum numbers and the distancing measures and so on?
Howard Quayle 24:29
Thanks, Rob. It’s a good point to clarify. Yes, it’s any group. So no more than 10 people at a time. So if I go to visit a household of five, I can only bring five people with me that’s outside keeping your distancing. Or if you go outside a group of 10. that’s acceptable. If you then go home and you want to go back out again. You can meet with another group of people but you keep it to 10. You keep your distancing, and you keep your face mask on. But that’s purely it. Outside, you cannot go into the property.
Rob Pritchard (3FM) 25:04
Thank you for that. My second question probably for the health minister, we’ve seen that referrals to the islands crisis team over people’s mental health has risen in the last year. What extra resources have you allocated or are planning to allocate to the service given that this is a continuous challenge for people that we’ve seen throughout the pandemic?
David Ashford 25:22
Yes, thank you very much, Rob. I mean, it is a serious matter the mental health. We have made online resources available that weren’t available previously. I know that in terms of staffing that has been looked at as to what staff we have around mental health, there has been additional funds over the last few budgets put into mental health as well. And that is continuing. And we thank Treasury for that support. We are also working on self help as well, because as I’ve said at previous briefings, we’ve got to be very clear, it’s not just all about the crisis team. It’s not all about the department. It’s about giving people mechanisms to help themselves as well. So there’s been work going on in that area. And there’s a lot now more tools available to people in terms of advice, and also online support to help the budgetary aspect of the department as well. Mental Health has been receiving extra provision over the last few years, and they have been utilising that provision, they will continue to do so.
Rob Pritchard (3FM) 26:18
Just the points on top of that, if you don’t mind. You mentioned the financial side, but in terms of actual staffing and personnel to make sure people are being reached in the target time. In terms of staffing, is that been locked up?
David Ashford 26:32
It has I did say that just to my original answer that there has been a staff review within the mental health service. There those in charge of mental health service assure me that they are happy with the staffing levels, that they are able to cope, I gave some figures in the house keys and fact as to the number of touch points that the mental health crisis team I’ve actually had I gave those because I was an answer to a question Tuesday. So they are confident they are I am able to cope with the increased demand. But obviously, if any other further demands come forward, then the department would look at that man’s care today, which would give me an opportunity to put in as well. Rob is up and running now. Today is maxcare day, and if Manx care came forward saying that they needed further support in that area, then the department will look at that and engage with Treasury as well. Thank you.
Howard Quayle 27:20
Thanks very much, Rob. Now we move on to Alex Watson from Manx radio. Good afternoon, Alex festa. My
Unknown Speaker 27:26
Good afternoon, people are now looking to book holidays, particularly in the latter part of this year with the vaccination programme where it is what sort of you put into vaccination passports and the implications and travelling to continental Europe especially? Well, it’ll
Howard Quayle 27:43
be up to obviously companies to decide whether they wish to ask for people to have vaccination passports to and evidence to show that they’ve had that if you’re I know, I’ve heard of one company already insisting that anyone wants to go on holiday must have a vaccination passport. So we are ensuring that if there is a requirement that individuals on the Isle of Man will have the data to clearly show that they have had the vaccination to enable them to go on holiday by bringing in the health minister who I know has been working on this.
David Ashford 28:17
Yes, so if countries required some sort of proof that the vaccination had been delivered to someone in order for them to either use their allied their route or or enter a country, then we would be able to provide that for people. Just as we’ve been able to do the tests, for instance, where people have to show a negative test PCR test before entering the country, we can go down that accepts a route. If your question was about are we going to introduce vaccination passports, then at the moment, that’s not on the radar. And the reason being, of course, as we’ve stated before briefings, having the vaccination does not stop someone carrying COVID or contracting. And although reduces transmission, and the most recent studies are very encouraging about reduction in transmission, it still doesn’t remove the ability for someone to transmit it to someone else. So a vaccination passport doesn’t necessarily act in a way as say it would with a vaccination for yellow fever, which actually does stop your contract in that particular disease. What we also need to be careful of is we don’t go down the road and create a particular system, that the rest of the that is then out of sync with the rest of the world. Because I’m pretty certain if the world does go down the route of vaccination passports will probably be an international standard to that. But in the short term, if people need proof for a particular country, we could provide that. Thank you.
Unknown Speaker 29:40
So the other question, probably for the health minister again, actually, with all the health care home residents now been vaccinated is the department offering any new advice for homes in terms of visits,
David Ashford 29:52
not at the current time and the reason being although it’s great news that the vaccine programme has finished, we have to remember that the first The vaccine builds over time in people’s systems is not instant protection. And so it is important for the current time that if homes wish to maintain restrictions that they do so of our visiting. So we do need to be cautious at the moment. It’s excellent news that the vaccination programme has finished in those individuals, that they will still be be a built in protection from those vaccinations. So for the current outbreak, the advice is no different. Thank you.
Howard Quayle 30:27
Thanks very much, Alex. And just before we move on to Simon Richardson, I just want to clarify a point i said earlier regarding the number of people going from one household to another, it’s obviously it’s 10 people that can meet outside, I think I said five people in with yourself and five people it should have been yourself including included in that five meeting with another household of five as an example, just in case anyone thinks they can now sneak in an 11th person where we’re keeping it to 10. People mixing outside but obviously wearing the face masks and keeping them separate themselves socially distance. Just wanted to clarify that point. Right. Next we have Simon Richardson from business 365. Good afternoon, Simon foster my
Unknown Speaker 31:10
Good afternoon, Chief
Unknown Speaker 31:12
Simon Richardson 31:13
first question is for the health minister, please. In terms of vaccines, obviously, well done to all concerned living the 51,000 mark. The fear last month, though, was that we would have a significant slowdown in supplies in April, during no small part to pressure from the EU. Has that concern receded? Or is it still likely?
David Ashford 31:35
No, it hasn’t receded, the delivery schedules are as we said they would be in relation to April. So we are getting the reduced delivery schedule. We’ve always kept a buffer stock. And we’ve always planned accordingly. So our vaccination programme can continue. What the numbers have will be seen to be reduced over the April. But we are on track exactly where we were. And we will hit our targets simulation to have in the priority groups vaccinated. All the letters have now gone out priority groups, which is those over 50. And there isn’t going to be vulnerable. And I’ll use this as an opportunity again, Simon to say to people, if you’ve had your letter, please do register with 111 at the earliest opportunity. And that means you’ll get an appointment as quick as possible. So please don’t sit on your letter. If you’ve had your letter, get yourself registered.
Simon Richardson 32:25
Thank you. And secondly, for Dr. Year. Please talk to us over the past few weeks of community cases. Have we seen any trend in which the category of person or the category person who’s catching the virus? We appreciate you can’t give personal details on cases, of course. But the most recent community case, obviously it was disappointing after four previous days all clear. Now from the dashboard, it suggests that the case is possibly a young man in his 20s is that been a trend?
Henrietta Ewart 32:55
I really can’t comment on any individual and no, there has not been any trend in specific narrow age bands or geographical locations or indeed work settings or or other. It is very much being dispersed across age groups, but mainly in young people and working age adults rather than older adults, but no sub patterns within that. And as I say no other geographical or occupational links. It’s been very, very dispersed. Thank you.
Howard Quayle 33:31
Thank you very much, Simon, we now move on to some Turton from Jeff. Good afternoon, Sam faster. My
Unknown Speaker 33:36
pastor, my chief minister, just whenever we get asked in terms of the businesses, there’s some clarification being sought already on. If somebody runs an outdoor fitness group, for example, are they able to gather with nine of their customers to run a group like that, for example, under these new rules?
Howard Quayle 33:55
Right now, outdoor gyms, I wasn’t aware was allowed. I will have to get back to you on that. Because there may be close contact with with the work. So I’ll take advice from our experts on that. I don’t know. Doctor, you can give any thoughts on that?
Henrietta Ewart 34:12
Yes, we haven’t moved to bring that provisional back in yet. But in fact, we did a lot of work with MSR during well, as we were coming out of the first lockdown back in the summer, where we we worked with their best staff who have expertise and knowledge in these areas to actually look at different types of activity, and the risk for sort of aerosol generation, droplet spread, etc. And the sort of mitigations that might be needed for specific activities. So we haven’t looked at relaxing any of that yet. But we can do as we see the implications of the relaxation we already had. And as I say we’ve got that work that we did last summer that we can draw on to To relax things, if that looks like the way to go over the next days and weeks,
David Ashford 35:05
Howard Quayle 35:06
think, Sam, I think Dr. Allen’s might want to give a comment on this too.
Alex Allinson 35:12
Yeah, I think it’s a very good question when I know people are really eager to get out and get active again, which is great. One of the big decisions that council ministers made today was about outdoor gatherings. But we’ve also decided to keep closed for the time being over this weekend on playgrounds, tennis courts, those sorts of areas, so that we can try to do this in very careful steps as we move forward. So I know people may want to start boot camps again, and things like that, can we just wait, look at the data over the weekend, go into next week. And then hopefully, when the council ministers meet on the sixth, we can revisit some of these issues to gradually start opening things up again. So you know, I think sports are very, very important. Obviously, people want to get out want to get active and stay active. But let’s take it in stages so that we can be absolutely certain that we don’t have to, as I said, take steps backwards in the future, thinking
Howard Quayle 36:07
about small baby steps, as we’ve said before, so your next
Unknown Speaker 36:10
questions are just in terms of indoor working, you’ve moved in now to one person per room and a vacant property. There’s people want to know when they’ll be able to get more clarity around or when particularly sole traders will be allowed to go back to occupied properties surrounding things like installing bathrooms and kitchens is obviously quite difficult to construct industry as a whole. But a lot of our sole traders are feeling the pinch of this top down.
Howard Quayle 36:35
Yeah, I understand that. Sam, we’re not there yet. We feel that we’ve opened up our construction sector for where there’s no one living in prenup in a property. So an open site effectively, or a property where trades can one person can work in each room, as Dr. Hansen has just said regarding the outdoor gym, where we’re looking at doing this and stages, we’re want to take a step forward. If the data of the coming week is good, and we don’t have any more unexplained cases, then it may well be that we can look at allowing outdoor gyms to work for example, and other activities. I think going into a house where people are still living and fitting out a bathroom or a kitchen. I know people need to get on with that. But we’re not there yet. We did go over and beyond to help sole traders get on and do jobs around the house round property. But that was outside or in a property that was empty. But we’re just not quite there yet, Sam. But I hope that we can move on that fairly quickly.
Unknown Speaker 37:35
When you say fairly quick, quickly, does that mean we might have a better idea for them next week, next
Unknown Speaker 37:39
two weeks? Just
Howard Quayle 37:40
the ballpark figure Yes. And the next week or two will it really will be dependent, Sam on the data that we’re getting from the number of you know, if we’ve got no cases for the next week and no one explained cases, then obviously the Council of Ministers can be a little bit more confident when we’re looking at the data on what’s safe to move forward. Because we do want to open up as soon as we can. But it has to be as safely as we can to. But thanks very much, Paul. And last but not least, we have Paul Moulton from Isle of Man television. Good afternoon, Paul faster.
Paul Moulton 38:12
My thank you for Dr. Alex Allison, um, you said the no hub schools yet I’ve been told that there is a homeschool operation done at the NSC for health workers. Can you comment if that’s true? Or is that just simply rumour?
Alex Allinson 38:25
No, no, you have wonderful sources, Paul, and I’m always in awe of what you learn. And we don’t have a hub school? No, we have a childcare facility. One of the things that that was quite evident over the last couple of weeks was the the strain that this outbreak has caused for nobles hospital, you’re you’re aware of that in terms of the increasing numbers of people coming into hospital, but also quite a large amount of staff who were having to self isolate. Because they be they’ve been contact traced, but also those people who couldn’t access childcare, and so couldn’t come into work for that. So what we’ve done in terms of the department is set up a facility so that we can provide that childcare for those critical workers, those people working, for instance, in intensive care who needs that so that they can go and do the job that we all rely upon. And so we will be doing that over the Easter period to support those critical workers. And we are in conversation with some of the other frontline staff as well. So that if we need to, we can provide that so that they can go to work.
Paul Moulton 39:29
And you’d understand the anx amongst other people who believe themselves to be frontline workers who can’t get into their system within minutes.
Alex Allinson 39:36
No, absolutely. We we are trying to do something at a very difficult time in terms of risk assessment. One of the reasons we’ve used the NSC is because the high ceilings the ventilation, really using very, very small groups who were kept together right the way through so if there are any outbreaks they can be dealt with. One of the things that the council ministers did last week was allow people to join In terms of households for childcare, particularly for people who was single parents, we’ve also provided, um, childminding facilities for, again for those critical workers. So we’re doing as much as we can to support people who really have to go into work. But we are still in the position of asking people, if you can, please stay at home only going to work. If it is really essential. We will get there. But we need to do it in stages, as the chief minister has said.
Paul Moulton 40:29
And my second question, we’re probably not the hottest ticket in town this afternoon, I think, listening to Dr. Rachel Glover giving her account to the PAC committee is dynamite. And I’ve only been listening up till the start of this press briefing. But one of the points that has been sort of said before, and I think this is quite worrying for a lot of people is that certain people were giving information to Coleman, who maybe shouldn’t have done it maybe involve their pay scale, or they work slightly qualified enough to make advice. Do set that has now happened, because this is not a new allegation. Chief Minister, and rest of the panel, please. And are you looking at that, again, because you may have got information that wasn’t necessarily signed off by the right people?
Howard Quayle 41:12
Well, I haven’t heard the evidence poll. So I’ll have to wait and see the report from the committee that’s been said. That said, we have a consultant who say my books is higher than a doctor that’s been advising the Council of Ministers on on genomics and our testing setup. Let’s see what evidence has come. And then we can make a statement on that. I think David will no doubt want to comment on this, David.
David Ashford 41:40
Yeah, thank you, Chief Minister. Obviously, I haven’t heard the evidence session. I’m sat here with Dr. Paul with this. I haven’t heard any of us in the tombs. You’ve caught it. So I will have to listen back to the evidence session to see what was actually said. But in the terms, you’ve caught it now, I don’t accept that. I think the officers who’ve been advised and council of ministers are qualified to do so. And one of the reasons that we have the Shane’s, so we don’t it’s not just a case of anyone can come and advise Council of Ministers, those protocols in place where any advice to Council of Ministers goes through various chains. And that’s exactly why that’s there to ensure that it’s been double checked, triple checked, and that the advice that’s given to Council is right, correct and proper.
Paul Moulton 42:21
So there’s likely you’re going to be talking about this on the next one on Tuesday. I’m sure there’d be other questions that you can clarify from this evidence has been given today.
David Ashford 42:29
Like I said, I need to hear the evidence session of her first poll, and I’m great at multitasking. I do so to doing things, you know, same time, but I can’t quite do a press conference here. And also listen to a tumbled evidence session at the same time.
Paul Moulton 42:43
That’s shocking. I thought you’d do better than that. And I’m joking.
David Ashford 42:47
Unknown Speaker 42:47
We’ll talk next week about that. Thank
Unknown Speaker 42:49
you very much.
Howard Quayle 42:50
Okay. Well, thank you all very much for your questions. Please enjoy the Easter weekend. If you do, take your deck chair to sit and catch up with loved ones. You might also need a warm blanket. Please do everything you can to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. only meet outdoors. Keep your distance. Let’s keep the hugs for another time. Hopefully soon. We will be back on Tuesday after the long weekend on less there is a reason to do so sooner. Until then, please continue to make the right decisions for you, your family and your Ireland. And of course call 111 if you have anything that might be symptoms, don’t delay, everyday matters. Thank you all very much. Bye bye.