Logo - Unofficial Transcript
This is an unofficial and unverified transcript

This is a very rough and unverified transcript of the Isle of Man Government’s Coronavirus Media Briefing held on Tuesday 26 January 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”).

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.

David Ashford 0:00
Good afternoon, everyone. The Chief Minister is attending to all the duties this afternoon. So today alongside myself, I am joined to the podium by the Minister for the Department of Education, sport and culture, Dr. alanson, and also via zoom by the Director of Public Health, Dr. henryetta. us. Before moving on to anything else, I will provide you with today’s figures. The total number of tests undertaken stands at 27,325. The total number of tests concluded is 27,315. So there were 10 people outstanding results at the point the the figures were taken. The total number of new cases identified in the last 24 hours is zero, meaning our total number of cases remains at 432. And the total number of active cases as of today stands at 30. I’d now like to hand over to the Director of Public Health Dr. us for a brief update on the current situation, Henrietta.

Henrietta Ewart 0:58
Thank you, Minister Ashford. The good news is that we have no new unexplained community cases in the last 14 days. And our contact tracing and testing arrangements give us confidence that we have now contained transmission chains that were spreading out into the community. So this means that as long as we get no further unexpected and unexplained cases, we can release restrictions as planned on this coming Monday. We have to remember though, that we still remain at risk from uncoated cases, which means that on Island we’re only as COVID safe as the last person arriving. Given the situation across, we still need to ask ourselves if our journey off Island is essential. And if we do travel, we need to be rigorous in following self isolation when we return, we all need to remain vigilant symptoms and contact 111 immediately if we notice any. And we should all continue to practice the hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene that we’ve been following for best part of a year now. So we’re not over the woods yet. And it’s really up to the behaviour of all of us to make sure we say COVID secure on an island. Thanks, Minister.

David Ashford 2:13
Thank you very much, doctor you. As doctor you it has just said today marks the milestone of having reached 14 days without any identified community spread. Saturday saw the first phase of our transition back to normal. With a staged relaxation of the measures we put in place for our circuit breaker lockdown a few weeks ago. I would like to thank all of you out there for sticking to the rules. And we ask you to please do so for the remainder of the week to help us move forward to what we hope will be a removal of all restrictions next week, if we continue on our current trajectory. On that note, I will hand over to Dr. Allen son who I know is keen to update you on the return of schools. Over to you Alex.

Alex Allinson 2:57
Thank you, David. I’d like to thank the parents and young people of our island their patients during the current circuit breaker lockdown of the start of this year we were faced with community spread of COVID-19 and concerns that this would rapidly put unbearable pressure on a health service already working at full capacity. Thanks to the spirit that binds our community together, people have done the right thing. You’ve stayed at home worn masks and kept socially distant. As the health situation stabilises We are now in the we are able to plan a path back to a more normal way of living. But this week, we must keep our defences up to protect those most at risk of illness as they are offered the certainty of vaccination. Currently, we have nine primary schools acting as hubs, vulnerable children and those essential workers are being taught in tight bubbles and small groups. Our secondary schools are very limited capacity for students and all parents are asked to keep their children at home wherever possible. This is currently the safest thing to do. On Thursday, the primary school hub pupils and staff will move back into their normal local schools. It’s very important pupils remain at home as much as possible. So we can transition back to schools opening normally for all on Monday, the first of February. Extra staff will be coming back to their schools to prepare classrooms and lessons for next week. Whilst having to keep socially distant. I would like to thank the caretakers support staff cleaners and catering staff who have shown remarkable flexibility to keep our schools safe, clean and fed. Throughout the last three weeks we have been running in effect two different education systems. hub schools have supported the families of our frontline workers was teachers of organised remote learning for the majority of P of pupils studying at home. I’ve received some tremendous compliments from families by the level of support and engagement provided by their teachers. They’ve used imagination and technology to keep learning fun and try to keep people from feeling alone, this Thursday and Friday, remote learning will be scaled down to allow those teachers to set up their classrooms. We ask people to use these two days to complete the work that you’ve already been set and consolidate your lockdown learning so that you’re ready to get back on track on Monday. I know this has been a difficult time for all of us, some students still facing xiety of exams this summer and are anxious about their futures. At the start of this pandemic, we made a commitment to make sure the education of our young people was not another victim of COVID-19. Teachers will do whatever possible to ensure all young people reach their full potential and can progress to the next stage of their education, further studies, vocational training or employment. But for now, we need pupils and students to keep their eyes on their futures. continue your studies continue to challenge yourselves and keep up with your school’s curriculum. However, however, exam grades are awarded, we must ensure that our young people complete their education in their faces is our future. And we have a responsibility to support them to achieve the very best. So this week, please don’t let down your guard, stay at home wherever possible, wear a face covering without wash your hands and remain socially distant. This is how we defeated the threat to our community before and by working together. We will do it again. Thank you.

David Ashford 6:28
Thank you for that update. Alex, can I take the opportunity to add my thanks to all those within the education system for all that they’ve done over the last few weeks, the way that everyone has pulled together to ensure that our education system could continue to run and offer support to our pupils to ensure they have missed out on as little education as possible, has been absolutely phenomenal. Also, can I say a big thank you to all those parents out there who have had children at home for the last few weeks for supporting their learning alongside the pressures and strains of working from home. We fully recognise that this circuit breaker lockdown has been hard for many and may have caused anxiety, stress, concern and feelings of isolation, particularly for those who may already struggle with their mental health. That is one of the reasons why we as a government have been determined that this circuit breaker lockdown should be as short and sweet as as it is safe as possible to be. It has been hard for people once again to have to be separated from their support networks. Be that family, friends, or simply the break to the normal routine with which they would live their lives. After what we’ve been through, it is okay to feel differently. And as we prepare to welcome back all children to our schools next week, it is important to be mindful of how we’re feeling. The pandemic and subsequent lockdowns will have made us all experienced a range of emotions that might have impacted on our mental health and well being. You might be feeling anxious, confused, or just a little low. For many a return to school lessons and friends will be an exciting time. But others will be anxious. And that is completely natural. I’m sure many parents and teachers are feeling the same way. In the Korean climates, it is more important than ever, that we support each other. And together, we will make it work. There are also some helpful resources on our uwo care website. That is ww Dart. Are you okay, at golf dot i am. I would like to thank everyone across our community. For all that they have done so far. There is still a way to go. But with a fair wind next week may bring depending on circumstances this week was back to the normality that I’m sure we all crave. The signs are encouraging. As I said at the start, we have now reached 14 days of falling curation cycle of the virus without any identified community spread. But it is important this week, that at the final hurdle, we do not let down our guard. So please, just for a little longer keep to the rules in place to ensure we protect our community so we can all return to some form of normality as soon as possible. On a sad note, the Ottoman can stably has made us aware that we are seeing an increased number of scammers specifically targeting our island. These scammers are calling older people and exploiting the vaccine rollout and cold calling them using it as a lever to try and get personal details. There is also increased activity around scammers pretending to be from Alamin bank. The behaviour of these people targeting some of the most vulnerable in society is reprehensible And shows them up to be the worst of humanity, trying to exploit for personal gain the fear and anxiety of those most vulnerable during a worldwide pandemic. I can’t even begin to express the disgust I feel for people who would do such a thing. But sadly, those people are out there. And we all need to remain on our guard and vigilant against this form of activity. Please remember, never give out personal details or bank details to unsolicited callers. The 111 service will never cold call you about a vaccine. Those eligible for a vaccine will receive a letter that allows them to make contact with 111. to book an appointment, should you get a call, please never be afraid to call back on an official government number, making sure the line is clear before you do call back. So on that side note, without further delay, we will now turn to the questions from the media. And first off, I’ve got Alex Bell from BBC Ireland man, Alex.

Unknown Speaker 11:03
Good afternoon, did

Unknown Speaker 11:04
the health service share any of the concerns being echoed in the UK today about the continued supply of vaccines from the EU?

David Ashford 11:13
In relation to supply Alex’s at the moment, we haven’t seen a disruption to our supply chain, we knew there was going to be disruption to the face of vaccine. And I think I touched on it in one of the press conferences last week, because what they are doing out in Belgium, which is their main manufacturing plant is they are having to do major works to upscale capacity. So there is going to be short term disruption to the production that five second day in order that they can actually create more vaccine. So there will be that minimum disruption and then the plants will face was from there, they will be able to scale up and produce more than they were planning. So we will probably see disruption in terms of that. But in terms of the Oxford vaccine, we have not seen any disruptions and we have been receiving the orders that we have been expecting to receive. The delivery schedules do constantly change. I think I’ve made that point as well. But in terms of our share, we have been getting what we’ve been expecting to get

Unknown Speaker 12:07
it does it impact on our delivery targets at all,

David Ashford 12:10
at the moment that we were not seeing anything that would impact on that. But as I say the situation with deliveries is always fluid. We can only vaccinate to supply. If the manufacturers can’t produce that and can’t get it shipped out to us in the appropriate time fellas, frames that will knock us back. But at the moment, we have not had to adjust any time scales based on supply coming into the Ireland.

Paul Moulton 12:32
Thank you. And we’re expecting a policy change in the UK in the coming days whereby people arriving in England and perhaps Scotland as well from high risk areas will be required to quarantine in a hotel. Would this change in policy signal any kind of consideration of a similar policy being implemented on the demand for arrivals?

David Ashford 12:52
No, not at this moment. That’s not being considered. The reason being we have very different rules and regulations in place here compared to what the UK has. Anyway, the UK has had much more free movement. We for instance, do not allow free movement into the island. It is returning residents it’s limited to and also those who as of today, you can apply on compassionate grounds again, so we have a very strict entry regime anyway, which isn’t there in the UK, people are free to move in and out as they wish. And this is putting in place a quarantine situation for those arriving back at the moment from certain countries as high risk countries the UK is talking about at the moment, but we’ll probably get more details on that when the Prime Minister does his press conference later today.

Unknown Speaker 13:36
Thank you.

David Ashford 13:39
Okay, now next up, I have some Turton from Jeff.

Unknown Speaker 13:44
Thank you. Minister serves as the chief minister. Thank you, Minister. A quick question then we have from two arenas. First one is for yourself. And it’s Do we have an idea when hospital appointments be going back to normal, and this person’s appointment was due for tomorrow to be a procedure and they’ve not been told? It’s a phone call, unless they’re doing DIY procedures that are entirely sure how this is going to work?

David Ashford 14:07
Yeah, well, we haven’t quite got to the stage of where we can do invasive procedures over the phone yet digitally. I think the technology is probably another 5060 years away before we can do anything like that. But in terms of elective surgery on a more serious note, we are hoping to start looking at what we can do to restore services as soon as restrictions are lifted. And that will obviously be from next week onwards. I do have to emphasise again, it will have to be a staged approach as it was as we came out to the last lockdown, but we will be looking to try and turn on as quickly as possible all elective procedures. And that includes that includes the procedures that we stopped in order to preserve bed capacity. Even before the lockdown. We will be looking to turn orthopaedics back on as well. But it will have to be a staged approach based on clinical advice once we exit out, which we hope of like I say still dependent. What happens this Last week, but we hope would be next week onwards.

Alex Allinson 15:03
Okay. And secondly, firm dot rounds. And this came in from a parent today who asked us about she has a child with additional needs, who manages in school about extra additional support, or she wants to know what additional funding will be available to. Children have been disproportionately affected by remote learning over the two lockdowns and who haven’t been able to go into open placement and into our placement and have felt displaced. And I’ve got additional pastoral needs that maybe support need support extras after lockdown. And I what I’d say to the person who contacted you is when you get back into school or on Monday, please share those concerns with your teachers with the support staff there, we understand that some people have been affected by the lockdown both the previous one and this one to varying degrees. And if it’s that’s exacerbated underlying problems, underlying anxieties, we will try to deal with that as much as possible. We now have five educational psychologists working throughout the educational service who can pinpoint those problems and provide really quite good local resolution to those in a very quick manner.

David Ashford 16:15
And Next up I have Rob Pritchard from three FM. Good afternoon.

Rob Pritchard (3FM) 16:20
Good afternoon, Minister. First question once the vaccine helps with the airports and a chest the streets open. Are there any plans for special transport services for the likes of residents in the north of the islands, for example, particularly those who can’t drive before the northern hope comes online?

David Ashford 16:35
Well, that’s a very interesting question, Rob. And I had a similar question in the house keys this morning, actually, around what services are in place. So for those who can’t make their own way, there is the ability we need to stress for them to use friends and family. Even in the current climate, there is that ability under the current regulations, because it is essential care. Once we are out of lockdown, they can do that as well. There is also for those who have mobility issues, and can evidence that they can’t make it under their own steam, there is access to the patient transport network as well. But we that is purely limited to those who for medical reasons or the fact they can’t move very much can’t make it down to the centre. Other than that there is regulable services, there’s advice gone open both on DUIs website, and on the government website explaining how people can get to the centres. So there is a multitude of ways that people can actually do.

Rob Pritchard (3FM) 17:29
Thank you. My second question for the Education Minister, will school attendance be voluntary? Once lockdown lifts given some people may be apprehensive about sending their children back to school straight away?

Alex Allinson 17:38
Yes. I mean, at the end of the last lockdown, we lifted up to parents very much to decide. We’re in a different situation. This time, I think, as the Director of Public Health has said, we’re very confident that we’re now on top of the community spread that was prevalent at the beginning of this month, we desperately want all children to come back to school on the first of February, to carry on with your education to catch up with it within the gaps there. And we really want to make sure that that provision is there. As I said, we’re gonna have to scale down the remote learning on Thursday and Friday, so we won’t be able to provide that same level of service to those who still stays at home. But if there are any parents or any children who are anxious about coming back to school, please discuss those anxieties with your teachers next week, we will be doing as much as possible to allay any fears, and deal with any issues that are there, particularly with people or parents who may be at home shielding. Also, whilst we’ve never made wearing masks mandatory in schools, if those pupils want to carry on wearing masks, particularly going to school and back on public transport and feel them and makes them feel more secure. Please continue doing that. And as the Minister for Health and Social Care have said in the past, people may want to carry on wearing masks even when the lockdown is lifted, that is absolutely fine. We’re putting the responsibility on people to make the best decision for them to keep our island safe.

Rob Pritchard (3FM) 19:06
Just Just to add the clarity on top of that, if you don’t mind. So you’re saying that they can speak to their teachers. But is that a definitive yes or no that they can or can’t attend out of choice and then speak to their teachers about it. We

Alex Allinson 19:19
if a parent by choice wants to keep their child at home, once the lockdown is lifted, I completely respect their their judgement about that we will not be chasing after them will what we will be doing is trying to engage with them to allay those fears and do the best for their family, their family and their child.

Rob Pritchard (3FM) 19:38
Thank you very much. And

David Ashford 19:39
I think a very important point that Alex made Rob is you know, people should make you know make the choices that are right for them. And I think that’s very important particularly around masks. There are people who will want to continue masks once this circuit break lockdown is over. And we should respect that. And as I’ve said before, I ask people to be tolerant around that. We did have k He says before the lockdown of people being abused in public for wearing masks, it’s what people feel comfortable with, and makes them comfortable of being part of our community.

Rob Pritchard (3FM) 20:10
Great, thank you for that.

David Ashford 20:11
So next up, I have business 365. Good afternoon, Simon.

Simon Richardson 20:15
Good afternoon, gentlemen.

Simon Richardson 20:17
My first question is for the health minister, the matter of the islands borders is an issue that will have to be considered, of course, in due course. Now there is still it would seem strong public support for current measures, given the situation in the UK. However, some local businesses have been calling for a clearer timetable and strategy in relation to the eventual easing of the border restrictions. Where do you end and indeed, Dr. alanson, stand on this issue.

David Ashford 20:49
So if I come in first Simon, in relation to the borders, we do have the border framework document that is still applicable with all the different stages laid out in there. What is impossible to do is to put a timescale on when we will move through those stages. That has been the case throughout the pandemic period, because it is dependent on what happens here on Ireland. It is also dependent on what happens in our near neighbours as well, which we have absolutely no control over. We have no control over the prevalence rates. We now have the vaccination coming online, which we hope longer term will be a game changer. But we have to first of all get all those in the vulnerable category vaccinators which will take to the end of May. And as I think I’ve stated at one of these briefings before, that is when I see the first real review point, it doesn’t mean there will be massive changes, we need to be clear on that. But that will be the first major review point when we can look to see what we can what we can lift. Our board policies are constantly changing. For the lockdown period, we didn’t allow compassionate applications to enter the islands, we’ve now allowed that again. So I know it is frustrating for many businesses, particularly those that deal further afield and have to have business travel, both out of and into the island. But I do think it is absolutely important that these column measures stay in place for now, because we’ve seen what happens to other countries when they released their border restrictions. And most of those that did we now see are going back the other way and imposing more stringent concert restrictions as a result. And I don’t know if Alex has got anything to add to that.

Alex Allinson 22:19
I would I completely completely agree with with you, David. I think this this conversation, this discussion is something that’s challenging. A lot of governments I know that recently, just in the home in New Zealand has have faced the same questioning in terms of when they will try to modify, they’re very, very strict on border policy. What we have tried to concentrate on the Isle of Man is the health of our nation is not overloading the NHS and protecting our local economy at a time of international problems. What I hope is by the rollout of the vaccination programme, by the decreasing number of cases we hope to see in the United Kingdom, then later on in the summer, we can look at following the policies that we’ve already outlined in terms of moving perhaps to three A’s so that people’s friends and close family could actually come over to the Isle of Man to visit them. But our best protection for the virus is still our border policy and still district quarantine with an efficient track and trace system.

Simon Richardson 23:22
Thank you very much. And secondly, for you Dr. Allinson, there have been calls in the UK for teachers to be moved up the pecking order in respect to the vaccines, is this something that you would endorse?

Alex Allinson 23:35
This is something we’ve already discussed in terms of the Council of Ministers and with the Minister for health and social care. What we have at the moment is quite an ambitious rollout of the vaccination programme to protect to protect those people who have most risk of serious illness and death. As the minister has already discussed, we are limited in that rollout to the supplies that we get. But I hope that as those supplies increase, we can actually make a priority for those frontline workers, which involve not only teachers but the other people who work in schools, as well as our police officers, as well as our prison and probation staff and a whole gamut of people across the public and private realm who are at increased risk because they come into contact with people on a daily basis. So it’s certainly a priority for us, but we can’t lose sight of protecting those people who am far more at risk of ending up on intensive care and mobiles. Okay, if

David Ashford 24:32
I can just add to that as well, Simon in terms of the vaccination programme, we have to remember the vaccination programme is in two phases. So when we look at things like the media articles in the UK, where they’re talking about the reprioritization of key workers, we have to be clear what’s actually being asked for and that is for them to be reprioritized in phase two of the vaccine. It’s not arguments asking them to jump into phase one. Phase One is where we vaccinate the vulnerable categories and those that In our age brackets would have issues with the virus so that anyone over 50 and those who are clinically vulnerable and vulnerable to the virus. So there that is phase one, there’s no argument going on in the UK, the keywords need to be introduced into phase one. What hasn’t been done yet is the jcvi. The Joint Committee on vaccination immunisation has not set the priority list yet for phase two. And that is where the argument is coming in saying that key workers such as such as teachers, such as police officers, such as prison officers, who sometimes get forgotten about, you know, the fire brigade, that they should all be a priority of phase two. So we will look at that and we will also look at what the jcvi recommends for phase two of the vaccination when they come out with their recommendations. And that is basically the phase May to September, the second phase of the vaccination programme. Thank you. Next up, I’ve got Tessa from Manx radio. Good afternoon. Hi,

Unknown Speaker 25:56
good afternoon. First question for you, health minister regarding the vaccination hub at ronaldsway, which is coming online tomorrow. Firstly, how much has it cost to create this vaccination hub down at ronaldsway? And secondly, from an operational standpoint, could you provide an overview of how it will function because obviously, we know there are some flights leaving and coming to the island. And we have had some concerns from people that have attended the hub in Douglas that they’ve been left stood outside, but obviously ours leave vulnerable people. So what reassurances Can you give them?

David Ashford 26:32
Well, one of the reasons Firstly, in terms of costs, the costs are still being finalised. So I’m not going to give a figure at the moment off the top of my head, because there’s still certain additional costs that need to be added onto it. But we will publish the figures there, it’s not a it’s not going to be a secret as to what the hubs of cost to create. The one of the reasons The airport has actually been selected as a hub is because of the wide open space. And it is easy with the volume of traffic going through the airport at the moment to separate off travellers from those who are actually going to have vaccinations, we put up some photos, which hopefully did get shared with those of you in the media last week, showing how the setup is we’ve got 10 clinical bays, so there is plenty of space there. But there will also be space for people if necessary to line up to get into the clinical area without having to queue up outside and enough space to be able to separate off incoming passengers and outgoing passengers as well. That’s specifically why the airport was chosen as one of the hubs because of the space.

Unknown Speaker 27:33
Thank you. Second question for the Education Minister. When will schools and parents have that definitive decision on the return to school? Obviously, Monday is the day that has been stated. But that final decision must have to come on Sunday. And second part to that question is whether all staff are allowed to go into the schools over the weekend to prep their classrooms ahead of Monday,

Alex Allinson 28:01
obviously, will be following very much the advice of the Department of Public Health, if there were to be any deterioration on the island and the council ministers would meet whichever day it was to make her an urgent decision on that. But we are planning for reopening all schools on Monday, the first of February, in terms of teachers going back in the latter part of this weekend at the weekend, they still have to abide by those directives in terms of social distancing. In terms of wearing masks, they are like the rest of us they are doing the right thing, keeping their schools safe and keeping themselves and their community safe. So whilst teachers will be going into the schools, that there will be in a very controlled way, which is why we need this week to transition back to a sense of normality on Monday.

David Ashford 28:47
Thank you. Our next up I have Paul Moulton from Parliament television. Good afternoon, Paul.

Paul Moulton 28:53
Good afternoon, Minister. First of all, obviously, about the borders, there’s a lot of students who will be returned to University at some point and up to now recommendation is don’t travel because you never know what might happen with the borders. So as we have you, doctor with us, what’s your recommendation? Because I mean, obviously, it’s something we have delayed their return anyway. It’s about getting back to university doing some remote or potentially, they could go back and then potentially they still could get stuck over there. Are you saying they shouldn’t go? They should go or a combination of?

Alex Allinson 29:23
I think that’s a very good question, Paul. And as we’ve said before, it comes down to the individual making the best decision for them. I know that some students have had to go back some students never came back at Christmas time. Because they had assignments to do they had placements to do and they weren’t able to come come home for that period. I’ve been talking with with quite a few students who have had to make that decision. Quite a few of them have decided for the time being to stay on Island because they’ve been advised from their universities not to go back until the end of this month, or perhaps next month, and that changes between different universities and different courses. For instance, those students on education courses, health or social care courses, were asked to come back earlier in June in January to actually resume their their studies. So the the answer to your question is that we have to take on an individual basis, but reassure those students that if they’re doing the right thing for them, we will try to do the right thing for them as well, that if they need to come back to the island, for whatever reason, will assist them in doing that, but they will need to quarantine they will need to, to be absolutely certain that they don’t bring any chance of the virus back with them to infect their community.

Paul Moulton 30:33
Because I think you were saying it could be as late as may before we can start releasing things. So you will have the end of the next term. And there could be a potential rush back at the end of that particular semester.

Alex Allinson 30:43
I think we’ve seen over the Christmas period, the responsibility that students have have had for doing the right thing for looking after their community. And they behaved in an impeccable way in terms of coming back quarantining, sometimes the second or third time in their very short student careers to actually do that do the right thing here. So I’m not worried about people rushing back, I think what we are seeing is that students who reappraising what they want to do over the coming months, they’re taking advice from their universities. And certainly the for those staying on the island. We’re trying to support them as much as possible, making the facilities at UCM available, but also some of the pastoral care and some of the careers advice that they may need as well, while they’re on the island to make the best of their education and make the best of the time that they’ve got.

David Ashford 31:31
Yeah, I think Paul’s students have acted exceptionally responsible as a cohort. In fact, many of them will have seen the devastating effects of the virus in the UK where they’ve been. So they you know, I think it’s been more at the forefront of their mind as a group. And certainly over the Christmas period, this returning students I think, acted massively responsible. And that was shown by the fact nothing came off the back of students returning. Just to be absolutely clear, though, when you mentioned may, I mentioned that as when all the the first maybe major review points, obviously, if things radically changed in the UK with them infection rate, and it dropped dramatically, for whatever reason before then, then obviously, decisions will be able to be taken earlier than then it’s a mixed picture. It’s not just about the vaccination. It’s about infection rates in our neighbours, and the overall risk to the island that will define what happens with the borders.

Paul Moulton 32:20
Thank you. And I just want to ask about the timescale and the timeline, actually, for Monday, when the last testing taking place before that. I mean, do you get results in on Sunday, which could put a break on it at that very last moment? Or will we know by Friday or Saturday that we are going from Monday to open up?

David Ashford 32:39
Yeah, so we would hope the Council of Ministers will be able to make a preliminary decision to say that we will be going ahead later this week, obviously, if anything happened very last minute. So it came through on Sunday that for whatever reason, we have suddenly had a multitude of clusters emerging or cases emerging, then that would be a game changer. But that would be late in the day, what we would want to be given some form of 99.9% certainty by Friday at the latest.

Paul Moulton 33:07
What is the latest on Sunday, it could be course the midnight like on New Year’s Eve.

David Ashford 33:11
These things happen. You know, I was New Year’s Eve. I was up working on that right up until the press release went out. And so well, most of the government team. And again, I want to thank including Henrietta’s public health team, while she’s here online, who worked exceptionally hard on that late into New Year’s Eve to ensure we could get the message out to the public at the earliest opportunity.

Paul Moulton 33:34
Okay, oh, yes. Because I don’t see mark is that sort of thing ready to pull up all their one way systems and they will obviously take a little time to get that in place.

David Ashford 33:41
Yet they will. And like I said, we should hopefully be able to advise on Friday, but we can never rule out something. And emerging This is an invisible enemy with a virus. Things can always happen last minute, and you know how cautious I am by nature. Get that in again. But But basically, but but basically we should be able to give a definitive as to whether we’re moving to that position after Council of Ministers meets later this week. And Council of Ministers approves this go into the next phase. Okay, and then finally, I have from all of my newspapers. Paul Hardman. Good afternoon.

Unknown Speaker 34:15
Good afternoon to questions for Dr. alanson. During this lockdown, and in contingency for any future ones, there been any provisions by the department to ensure that students have access to remote learning resources, like laptops and tablets?

Alex Allinson 34:30
Thank you very much for that question. Because I think that’s something that’s really come of age since last year, on the back of the previous lockdown, we had launched a scheme called D pass, which was for to identify those students who were doing GCSEs and a levels over the next two years and looking at those who were digitally disadvantaged either because they didn’t have a device, or they didn’t have Wi Fi access at home. And think thanks to the generosity of the scheinberg family. We went To provide over 100 laptops before Christmas, we’ve got more on older as well. So we can provide that that support in terms of technology for those students, both in terms of the lockdown situation. But also, as we move far more towards blended learning online resources, there’s a bigger body of work going on as well, in terms of looking at all those students and young people who go to our schools from primary school level up and what their ability to access, what technology may be, we’ve had a lot of fantastic approaches from charities from people interested in donating. And for those schools to increase the number of laptops available. And when we get through this lockdown, we’re doing an element that we’re going to be doing another bit of work with schools to again, look at those young people who are digitally disadvantaged, and the best way of helping them and their families get back online and actually get back on track in terms of their education.

Unknown Speaker 35:57
And secondly, does the department expect industrial action to resume as soon as schools return? And have there been any preparations for this?

Alex Allinson 36:06
I very much welcome the decision of the NA su wt to suspend their action short of strike, which was a one on the back of a ballots, they did have their members. And they we now have none of the unions taking part in industrial action. Although many of them still have unconcerned and disagreements with the department. What we’re trying to do is actively engage with them. And we’ve got a whole process of consultations and going on now looking at a whole range of their their concerns, in terms of the way schools will operate. With the lifting of action short of strike, it means that things like after school clubs, lunchtime activities can resume, but obviously we’re going to be doing that in a very orderly transitional way. So we don’t overburden those teachers who have actually been been working above and beyond over the last couple of weeks to support pupils, both in the hub schools and at home. Thank you.

David Ashford 37:02
And thank you to our media partners for those questions. This week marks what we hope maybe if the situation remains unchanged over the rest of the week, the final week of our circuit break lockdown. I would like to thank all of you for taking the role seriously, and once again, being determined to beat this dreadful debilitating virus. It is thanks to your determination that once again, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel and can hope to move towards some semblance of normality for a while and community. Tomorrow, there will be a public question answer session hosted by James Davis with questions being fielded by the Director of Public Health and the chief executive of the department of health and social care. Can I thank those that have submitted questions, and I hope that viewers will find the session informative. We hope to have further announcements to make around our transition back towards normal after Council of Ministers has met towards the end of this week. In the meantime, thank you for your continued support and vigilance and stay safe. Thank you