This is a very rough and unverified transcript of the Isle of Man Government Press Conference conducted on Tuesday 5th 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 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.
Howard Quayle 0:00
Well, good afternoon, everyone. I have a lot of important information to tell you today. And I am therefore grateful that you have taken the time to join us. You will, I am sure have seen or heard about the United Kingdom. Prime Minister’s briefing last night, he painted a bleak picture of the situation. The NHS in the UK is under considerable pressure. Each of the nations of the United Kingdom is now under lockdown. Today, the United Kingdom recorded a record breaking number of daily COVID cases 61,000 people. The situation here on the island is evolving quickly. I briefed you on Sunday, about some cases that had slipped through our measures and told you what we were doing about it. I’m afraid that I now need to brief you on further concerns we now have in relation to our islands community. It follows six positive test results that emerged late yesterday and overnight. We have also had one new positive result this afternoon. The positive results are from a mixture of circumstances, although at the moment, there is no indication of any link to the two cases announced on New Year’s Eve. The Council of Ministers held an emergency meeting this morning and agreed a number of measures on which I need to update you. None of this will be easy to hear. There remains a deal of unknowns. And I will be as frank with you as I possibly can be within of course the important constraints of personal confidentiality. I’m joined today by the Minister for health and social care, and our Director of Public Health, Dr. Henrietta Ewart. I need to start by telling you that we now have evidence of further spread of infection to others from an index case associated with travel. We now have confirmed cases of COVID-19 beyond the household of the traveller, and these cases are associated with a number of different locations involving potential contact with a large number of people. This gives us a significant risk of receiving widespread community transmission. We have not yet seen this spread widely into the community. But there is a credible risk that this will happen in the coming days. There is no root, no reason to panic. But there is a need to act decisively. As always, our primary objective is to preserve life. This was of course for foremost in the minds of ministers, when we met this morning and again this afternoon. In addition, we now have a new imperative to protect our vaccination programme, we have to ensure that the plan we have in place to protect our people, starting with our care workers, and our most vulnerable is in no way put at risk. Now before I tell you the measures that ministers have agreed to put in place to deal with this new situation, I would like to invite the Director of Public Health to brief you on the latest situation from a contact tracing points of view, Henrietta,
Henrietta Ewart 3:20
thank you, Chief Minister. And the reason we have particular concerns about the potential for community spreads resulting from the cases that were identified last night is that overall, the cases have a very large number of potential close contacts. And those contacts are spread over a number of locations. So we have to say at the moment that we haven’t been able to assure ourselves that we have closed every single potential transmission chain there, from the people that were contacts, checking them to see whether they are positive, getting them in self isolation, but then actively seeking cases wider in their contacts where that’s indicated. And clearly that is a large job given the number of contacts involved. And it will take time. And there is always the risk that while our contact traces are doing it, there is the opportunity for further transmission. That’s why we’ll be putting out some very clear messages about people or groups of people that we would like to get into self isolation, and then call 111. So that we can try and close down these lines of transmission before they do spread further.
Howard Quayle 4:39
Thank you very much, Henrietta. Now, it’s worth clarifying at this point that we do not yet know whether the cases we are seeing or off the new variants that we have been hearing so much about. We should know more about this in the coming days. But as you would expect, we have based our response on the possibility that it is indeed the new highly trained missable variant, it is right that we plan for the worst case scenario. There are other important pieces of context, the current vacant bed capacity at the hospital is low. This is of course not unusual for this time of the year. But it is important we understand this. Also, as in the spring, we cannot depend on our friends and NHS England for any resilience. They have their own challenges. The Council of Ministers has decided to maintain our overall objective of local elimination. And this has shaped our decision making. Given what we understand about the new variants and the context we find ourselves in. We have therefore had to be bold in our actions, the Council of Ministers has agreed to adopt a circuit breaker approach. Now, I know that this has had mixed success across in the UK. But our starting point is different. This means we will have to go in hard and fast. This is the approach that worked well for us last spring. The Council of Ministers has today agreed that the following measures will come into effect as soon as possible. All of the following measures must be in place no later than from one minute past midnight Wednesday night into Thursday morning. To be clear, that is just over 24 hours from now. But if people can put these measures in place sooner than that, even better. The overarching and most important point is that we will need everyone to stay at home as much as possible. We will require the return to social distancing of two metres everywhere outside the home. You will not be able to gather with anyone who was not a member of your household, you will be able to go outside for exercise once a day, we will not limit how long for push it can only be with people from your immediate household. We would ask you to do your best to avoid any crowded area and you must wear a face covering weddings and collective worship will not be able to take place. funerals may continue indoors and outdoors only with a maximum of 10 people with social distancing and the use of face coverings in place. We will be asking everyone who can work from home to do so by Thursday. And ideally, if possible before, we will require all employers to take this obligation seriously and do everything they can to facilitate. We know that some companies will need to have a skeleton team in place to ensure core services. But this must be kept to an absolute minimum. The construction sector will have to stop work except for emergency work and essential repairs. The manufacturing sector can continue to work if and only if it can do so with social distancing, and other measures in place. There will be an orderly closure of schools and nurseries as we reestablish the hub system we had in place before to cater for children of essential workers and any vulnerable children. We expect this to be in place by Thursday. And certainly before the end of the week, head teachers will be in touch. In the meantime, with immediate effect. school attendance will not be compulsory.
All hospitality venues will have to close as soon as possible. But no later than one minute past midnight Wednesday night to Thursday morning. This includes all licenced premises, or cafes, restaurants, bars, pubs and clubs. The only exception to this will be for takeaway or delivery food and alcohol only. No eating in all non essential shops will have to close from the same time. For most of this will undoubtedly mean an end at the end of business tomorrow. Only food shops and pharmacies are considered essential. We have however, agreed that for the moment at least hardware and garden centres can also remain open on supermarkets and food shopping. Please shop responsibly. Although the measures being introduced here today haven’t applied to us for the last six months. Remember, the United Kingdom has been in varying degrees of this situation for many many months, and their supply chains are stable. When you go shopping, please minimise numbers. It should be one person or one person under child only if you’re a single parent. Please do be considerate and leave supplies for others, there is absolutely no need to stock up. Our freight continues to flow. And you will recall that there were no problems with supply in the spring during lockdown or lifestyle businesses. You will remember that this is broadly hair and beauty businesses will have to close face coverings will be compulsory on all public transport. We have also recommended to taxi operators that they should not pick people up unless they are wearing face coverings. In addition, we strongly advise face coverings to be used by everyone anywhere outside your home. When you will be in close proximity with others. All indoor leisure facilities will close. This includes gyms and swimming pools. At this stage, we will not be putting in place an all Ireland speed limit as we did last year. But we would ask everyone to drive carefully and bear in mind the pressure any incidence may have on the hospital. And we will revisit this if necessary. with immediate effect, we are asking those significant clinical risk those who shielded before to do so again for an initial period of one week, and then we will review and be in touch. We will be ramping up our support for vulnerable people who will need assistance with shopping. We have asked all care homes to stop visits with immediate effect. This will be for an initial period of one week. Whilst we evaluate the situation further. We are moving to level five of our borders framework. We strongly discourage any travel of Ireland. If people do decide to travel after tonight, we cannot guarantee when they will be able to return. Those who do return from one minute past midnight Wednesday nights to Thursday morning. Again, just to be clear, and just over 30 hours time will require to undergo a new testing regime. This will be three tests, one on day one, another on day six or seven, a third test on day 15. Those returning will have to pay 50 pounds for each test. If people are not prepared to do this, they will have to self isolate for 21 days. And obviously patient transfers are exempt from this. returnees will no longer be able to self isolate with anyone other than those they have travelled with. There will be no financial support for any returnees. There will be some changes to our wider healthcare provisions, as you would expect. And I would like to invite the health and social care minister to brief you on this, David.
David Ashford 13:04
Thank you, Chief Minister, as the chief minister’s already touched on in his speech, it is important particularly with the winter pressures that we preserve bed capacity at nobles. Therefore the decision has been made to cancel elective surgery for the next two days, at which point we will review where we are in the bad situation and make a further decision at that point in time. Again, as chief minister’s already advised in relation to shielding. We will be advising anyone who has previously been in receipt of a shielding letter to shield for the next week. And again, we will be reviewing it after seven days in relation to patient transfers. These are continuing into the UK where hospital capacity allows in the UK, but we will be looking through the patient transfer list to ensure that we are sending people appropriately and those that do not need to travel, we will look to what alternative arrangements can be put in place in relation to personal protective equipment or protocols around PPA in the hospital or being and across our states are being reactivated so there will be PP requirements within the hospital. Equally we will be advising in care home settings that the Pp Pp requirements that were in place during the pandemic are reintroduced. care homes and residential homes as the chief minister has touched on as well. Our advice to them is too close for visits for the next week. And at that point after seven days again, we will review that advice and issue further advice at that point. In terms of our own visiting policies within DHS say there will be minimal visiting enacted where visiting will not take place unless it’s in compassionate grounds such as end of life. We need to also protect any what we would refer to as front door entry points. into the hospital. So we will be continuing for anyone who does Enter to keep contact details. And I know it will probably be a question around the vaccination programme that is no longer now going on, because that sees a large footfall, we will be introducing similar protocols to those that are in place in the UK. So there will be social distancing employed, where possible, there will be PPA in full use, and people will be kept in different areas as they go through the vaccination programme. Thank you, Chief Minister.
Howard Quayle 15:31
And thank you very much, David for that update. Now, we are unlikely to know for the full the full extent of any community spread for maybe two weeks, we are putting these measures in place for an initial period of 21 days. As I’ve said before, this period starts from one minute past midnight Wednesday night to Thursday morning. I hope that it will end on Wednesday the 27th of January. within that period, we will of course regular review, and I will keep you updated as often as possible. We will be returning back, we will say we will be turning back on some financial packages. The salary support and mirror our max earnings replacement allowance will return for this initial three week period. I know that these measures may appear severe to some, but ministers today agreed that we needed to take decisive and bold action without delay to protect what we have achieved already. And importantly, to protect our vaccination programme. There is no need to panic, but neither can we afford to delay. I know that there will be lots of questions, and we will need to provide more detail. I will do my best to answer questions now. And the team is working away this evening to get additional details available on our website to remind everyone that is gov.io forward slash COVID-19. from eight o’clock tomorrow morning, the COVID community line will be up and running again. And I know that this was a big help last time, the number is 686262. I’ll say that again. 686262 for any non medical queries. Now of course, if you show any symptoms, then you need to stay at home and call 111 immediately. But please do not call 111. With general inquiries, we need to let these people do their job. But the broad parameters are clear. Stay at home if you can. If you can’t then ensure you do everything in your power to be safe. Remember the basics that you did so well on the spring, wash hands keep distance. And this time we’re going to ask you to use face coverings as much as possible. I will pause now and take questions from the media. And first we have is Julian Turner, from energy FM Good afternoon to you and faster, my
Juan Turner 18:08
faster. My Chief Minister, thank you very much a lot of information there, it’s obviously going to take quite a while to digest it all. Most of it is is things that we were used to dealing with last time we had this.
Simon Richardson 18:23
Can I just start by asking
Juan Turner 18:25
about yesterday when we were talking with minister Ashford about the fact that some of these people had tested positive after the 14 day isolation period, as this goes on and develops then would you be considering once things do start to move again that that isolation period is now increased given that you’ve had more than one case, which has shown symptoms after a 14 day period?
Howard Quayle 18:54
Well, we’ve already put in measures in place from the 23rd of December, we brought in new measures that returning residents had to be tested on day one and day 13 before they were allowed to exit from quarantine on the 14th day. Now since that we have now brought in a test a further test on day six or seven. So that will be three consecutive tests before you’re allowed to vacate. And that will ensure that we pick up if you’ve maybe had COVID in the middle of that period of time but have recovered and therefore given a negative test on day 13. So that is designed to ensure that all returning residents now will be you know will we will reduce the likelihood of this happening again. Now with COVID. You can never say never. But these three tests our experts tell us all the best way to ensure that we protect the outcome going forward and as I say we had already put this in place prior to these unfortunate outbreaks. But it happened just before the people that have developed it had arrived back on the island before we implemented this measure. I don’t know, David, if you want to add anything to that,
David Ashford 20:12
yes, so the day one and day 13 tests that was brought in, is exactly designed to try and deal with this, as the chief minister said, With COVID, you are never going to be able to say never there is always a residue residue risk, the residual risk with people past a 13, who might pass a test, but then go on to develop COVID-19 is less than 1%. So it is low, we have to remember with these cases, because that testing regime was in place, we don’t know if the individuals would have passed a 13 test, or the day 13 test would have picked it up, the likelihood is on the law of averages that the day 13 test would have picked it up, and would have said that they were positive, because there is only a residual risk of just under 1%, that someone would pass that in terms of bringing in the midpoint testing, which we are doing now. The purpose behind that is to identify people who may be positive and pose a risk to anyone else around them even within isolation. For instance, you can actually have someone who may pass a day one test, because they haven’t actually fully developed COVID yet, and they might have recovered by the time of the day 13 test. So we would never actually know they’ve had us. And by doing a midpoint test, you potentially pick up those individuals, and are able to put mitigation measures in place at that point. So the midpoint testing from an epidemiological point of view is very, very important.
Unknown Speaker 21:38
I don’t thank you very much indeed. Now, obviously, it
Juan Turner 21:43
is going to take a little bit of time for businesses and people to prepare for, for this. But there will be those who are asking the question as to why isn’t coming in tonight. Maybe you could just clarify the reasoning behind why it has to be Wednesday into Thursday?
Howard Quayle 21:59
Well, I think we have to give businesses time to to prepare, rather than just saying, as of now, that’s it, you’re shut down. We are obviously asking if people can do it any earlier than that would be great. But we need to get our schools prepared, we need to get enable businesses to shut down their businesses tomorrow. And when we felt that the 24 hours notice was reasonable. But obviously we’ve made people aware that there is a problem and take action straightaway where possible. I don’t know David, if you want to add anything to that,
David Ashford 22:32
obviously, we are bringing back social distancing. And we we hope that people would respect that immediately, with immediate effects to be to be perfectly frank, even in those areas that are essential retail that we do need to remain open such as food shops, it’s completely impractical to be announcing this now and expecting those businesses to have all the measures in place for tomorrow. So we need to do need to give them a window because the alternative is they would have to shop tomorrow to get ready because they are there because they haven’t got everything in place. So I think we It is important we give them a window throughout this entire pandemic period whenever we have done things and on changes we have tried to give people as much notice as we can and I think it’s perfectly perfectly reasonable given the circumstances to give people 24 hours notice of these changes.
Howard Quayle 23:21
Thank you very much. Gentlemen, we now move on to Alex Bell from BBC Isle of Man Good afternoon Alex faster my
Alex Bell 23:29
hello there faster my and so borders moving back up to level five. Now our we know from the last lockdown This caused some quite major problems for people who are unable to make it back to the island in that short window. What is your advice to people who may struggle to come back home before that caught off? Can you give them any assurances? Well, we’re
Howard Quayle 23:48
not saying no, they can’t come back, Alex. But what we are saying is that they cannot quarantine with other people unless they’ve travelled back with those people. And they must have three tests to before we will allow them out of isolation. So it’s not a case that they can come back to the island if they’re already off Island. Now, if people choose to travel, bearing in mind the current situation and throughout the United Kingdom and on the island, then we’re not going to stop them from travelling but they cannot expect us to allow them back if things develop further. And so there’s a clear warning to people if you choose to travel. After the end of today’s if you choose to travel tomorrow to the United Kingdom unless your patient transfer then you are going with the full knowledge that we cannot guarantee that you can come back in the immediate future. But we are respecting the fact that people have gone off the island so far and we haven’t been able to give warnings before in the in the early days last time. I did give several warnings that people needed to get back. We haven’t because of the speed of this. We haven’t been able to do that. And therefore we are allowing people to come back. But they will have to have the three tests and the change in isolation rules.
Alex Bell 25:08
Thank you for the clarification. Three days ago, you told us repeatedly that the risk was low where it was clear there was potential community spread since the last week of December, Could these measures have been brought in sooner?
Howard Quayle 25:22
Well, no, the tests the the results. So the cases that we’ve now received, we believe are not connected to the cases that we had on New Year’s Eve. This is a different case of someone coming out of quarantine, and then spreading the COVID-19. to others. We had done a series of tests on a significant number of people, several 100 people have had returned a negative test. Regarding the earlier two cases. This isn’t isn’t a new case. It’s It’s It’s very disappointing, but we’re faced with a new case. And that’s why we’ve had because of the severity of the spread and the numbers on the locations, as Dr. Us said earlier, that’s why we’ve had to take action. We were I think I always said, you know, we weren’t out of the woods yet. It would take another week before we were confident that we’ve got away with the spread of the New Year’s Eve. Case. However, this is a non related incidents. And this is what’s caused us to take these changes. I don’t know, David, if you want to expand on or anything I’ve missed
David Ashford 26:31
know, you’ve you’ve basically covered off Chief Minister, it is important to emphasise that the six cases we have now identified at the moment there is no nothing to link them with the previous cases. And this is these are completely and utterly separate. But obviously the situation with these cases is very, very different. And that is what has prompted the different approach.
Alex Bell 26:54
Howard Quayle 26:55
Thank you very much, Alex. Now we move to Sam Turton from Jeff the mongoose. Good afternoon, Sam Foster, my
Sam Turton 27:02
customer Chief Minister. And I just wonder if we could ask, there’s been a lady contactless who’s due to go tomorrow on a patient transfer. And also the last few people concerned about perhaps her elderly parents travelling. I just wanted Mr. Ashford, could you just outline exactly what will happen for patient transfers over the next three weeks?
David Ashford 27:20
Yes. So in terms of patient transfers, they are carrying on as normal. The people who we have always throughout the period tried to limit the number of patient transfers that we do to those who clinically physically need to be seen. And we are going back over that, as I said a few minutes ago, just to make absolutely sure that we are contend that those are people that clinically do need to be seen in the UK at this current time. But patient transfers are continuing as normal. And they if so if they have patient has not been contacted to say otherwise, then their pet appointment is going ahead. And it’s believed to be clinically appropriate for that appointment to go ahead.
Sam Turton 27:58
Thank you. And just secondly, Chief Minister after the last lockdown as it were with schools, there were concerns about remote learning and how that was provided for Are you confident this be more successful this time?
Howard Quayle 28:13
Well, I think we’ve all been on a massive learning curve, Sam. So the first time it was new to our educationalists. Now they’ve all had time to put in plans that shouldn’t happen again, then they can get deliver a far smoother service than they had done before. But obviously last time, it was something new for us all. And I will be inviting the Minister for Education, sport and culture to come on online. I hope to be able to give potentially another interview tomorrow. And I will have the Minister for Education, sport and culture to give an update on the plans that the Department of Education, sport and culture have in place on remote learning for all our students. But a good question. Yeah. Thanks. Thanks very much, Sam. Now we move on to rob Pritchard from three FM. Rob. Good afternoon.
Rob Pritchard 29:04
Good afternoon, Chief
Minister. My first question just with regards to the financial support that you say we’ll make a return the likes at the mirror and salary support. Obviously, the Isle of Man, just like anywhere else during this pandemic took a big financial hit during the first wave. How confident are you that the island’s finances are going to be able to cope with this over this next at least three weeks?
Howard Quayle 29:25
Yeah, well, it’s a three week period the Treasury minister is putting out a full press release on on the provisions. It’s something that’s already up and running. So it’s just a case of turning it back on. It will be a considerable amount of money. Our you know, the the previous four and a bit years of this administration, we’ve worked hard at getting the the economy balanced with built up a modest reserve. Now whilst that reserve is the increase reserve of surplus I should say has gone and we do find ourselves lighter in the pocket significantly as a result of the cost of COVID. We are our finances are still in a Sound position the reserves have virtually come back to where they were pre COVID. So we can’t be throwing money away. But I think it’s important to support those people that need it. And, you know, I’m confident that our Treasury team have got this in hand.
Rob Pritchard 30:16
Thank you My second question to either minister Ashford or Dr. euro, possibly just regarding this new variants of COVID-19. We had a question sent through from some someone who was earlier today, has the island got the capacity to work out if the new variant is present on the islands.
David Ashford 30:34
I’ll bring the Director of Public Health in if I may, in relation to the new variants.
Henrietta Ewart 30:47
Thank you. Yes, we do not test for the new variant on Ireland, we send it away to the Liverpool genomic testing lab, which as I said at a previous press conference, is part of the UK genomic testing network. And one of the reasons we do that is to ensure that all the processing is done consistently with the UK National programme, and also that our results feed into that and contribute to the overall understanding of the spread of the new variant. It’s also important to understand that whether or not a positive cases related to the new variant is not key for the initial management, it makes no difference to that. It’s interesting for the epidemiological surveillance and understanding the spread of the new variant. Over time, we may learn that the new variant has other differences from the epidemiology of all the variants we’ve currently seen. That is to say beyond its increased transmissibility, which we now do have very good evidence and increasing evidence for but that will be something that will emerge over time as we learn more about it.
Howard Quayle 31:56
Thank you. Thanks very much, Rob. We now move on to Paul Moulton from Isle of Man television. Good afternoon, Paul. Faster. My Yeah, you have not muted yourself again.
Paul Moulton 32:12
I haven’t touched it this and I was told that to be unmuted, but obviously that wasn’t the case. Can you hear me now?
Howard Quayle 32:17
Paul Moulton 32:19
Okay. Before I was question, can you clarify by way about dentists and doctors? I didn’t hear anything in there about will they continue as no boy?
Howard Quayle 32:28
Yes. It’s business as usual for dentists and doctors. I know Henry.
Henrietta Ewart 32:33
Yes, and allied health professionals as well. So physiotherapists, chiropractors, etc.
Paul Moulton 32:40
Okay. And the first question, really, I think for David, actually, we were talking in our chat the other day about how this these cases that minute seemed to have snuck through after the two week isolation, and then they were still active. So I think a lot of people are questioning is, it seems strange, and again for three weeks to be going from the gold standard to the Platinum standard. Because until we know about this new variant, which she said itself, we didn’t know is actually quite sure what’s going on here, up to now. Two weeks was fine, but you go keep up two weeks.
Howard Quayle 33:09
I think Henrietta is more than capable of answering that one, Paul? Yes, yes, I
Henrietta Ewart 33:13
think we did go through it on Sunday, but I’ll take us back round it, the incubation period is still as far as we know, one to 14 days with a median of five days. So 14 days should be an appropriate time, after which you can release certainly return travellers from quarantine, self isolation, there are a number of circumstances where that might not work. The first one is as in the cases that we’ve seen recently. But this is not implying that this was actually what happened. In those cases, this is just a hypothetical, that could happen. In any case, an individual could develop symptoms, actually prior to the completion of the 14 days. But for whatever reason, they don’t report them. That may be because they don’t notice them, or they don’t think they’re COVID, or you know, it’s coming up to Christmas or New Year’s Eve. And they really do want to get out of their self isolation. So that’s one reason. The second reason is that they could be part of that 1%, which we’ve always known goes on beyond the 14 days. And that’s a risk we’ve always accepted. As we’ve said before, the problem with working on a percentage risk is that when you only have low numbers of the thing you want to avoid, then you’re not going to see it very often if it’s only 1%. But when you have a position like we now have across in the UK, where the numbers are so high, even 1% is quite a lot and quite a big risk for us here. So that’s another reason. And the third one, and this is important for household isolation, and the changes that we’ve made to that requiring people to come and isolate away from other household members. Is that actually when you come back from across or wherever else you’ve been, it would be possible that you, if you were tested, you would test negative on day one, you then go on to develop COVID, but you remain asymptomatic. Although you try not to you do have some interaction with other household members, or maybe somebody who’s dropping supplies off for you, or whatever, inadvertently has a bit of contact with you. You don’t know that that’s happened, or you don’t realise it’s happened and you don’t develop symptoms, you actually are one of the 98%, who clear by day 10. So by the time you get to day 1314, you’ve cleared your test would be negative, but the person you infected during that time, either the household member or the person who came to help provide you with supplies, take away your laundry to do or whatever, they actually then go onto present with symptoms subsequently. So there are all those things that are possibilities, indeed, they’ve always been possibilities. But as we’ve said before, when the background risk of any of those things, the actual number of those things happening in terms of the number coming across was very low. The frequency with which we would have seen it here would have been correspondingly low. And in fact, we didn’t see it, we effectively got away with it for the six, seven month period.
Paul Moulton 36:21
Okay. But Gee, maybe cheapest. I mean, giving people this grace tomorrow for the non essential outlets, plus, of course, bars and things like that. We’ve seen that in the UK, we certainly see when lockdowns, they’re taking place people have a certain feel to go out and enjoy their last moments of freedom, which in itself brings a lot of problems. I mean, first of all, it has been paid by here in the Isle of Man, you’ve seen the pictures yourself, no doubt in all the food outlets. People have gone out there and certainly many have gone quite, you know, crazy what they’re shopping. You must be disappointed with that. Tomorrow is another day that people can go out there and buy all things they might want plus go for a hearty drink and be quite legal about it. God knows social distancing until midnight, is that right?
Howard Quayle 37:03
Yeah, that is the situation. Paul, you know, it’s a it’s a balanced view, we have to take we take advice from our from our medics from solely from our Director of Public Health, we have to give a basic amount of notice to let people prepare for this, I think 24 hours is is you know, is shorter Peters we felt we were able to do to give people notice it said it’s a decision call, if I could point out regarding the increased risk that we had already a week before implemented an additional testing regime for those that were travelling because we were concerned about the number of with the increased number of cases in the United Kingdom. It’s just most unfortunate that before that was fully implemented we’ve we’ve had these two different outbreaks but yeah, it’s we’ve we’ve done our best to give people as much notice as possible, but in a shorter confined as as possible. I don’t know. Henrietta, would you like to comment on Mr. Morton’s view about?
Henrietta Ewart 38:07
Well, yes, I think that’s right. You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t on these things, and you have to take a reasonable decision based on balance of risk, and the pros and cons.
Howard Quayle 38:19
Okay, thank you very much, Paul. We now move on to Tim Glover from Manx radio. Good afternoon, Tim faster. My
Rob Pritchard 38:26
estimate, obviously, you’ve given out an awful lot of information and I’ve got two important questions. I want support but we are getting a lot of inquiries on specifics. So can I just maybe seek some clarification on those if you give me that house moves churches and sports are the main ones are being asked about?
Howard Quayle 38:45
Okay, well, sport, you know, unless it’s with your same family member The answer is no. So football rugby example I’m afraid that has to stop. And you know where we’re saying you cannot meet with anyone outside of your immediate family household. So that puts effectively paid to competition sport, it doesn’t stop you from going out walking, you know, carrying out one off sporting things on your own but competitions or and with other people. It does stop you and you’re the other point. Sorry. Tim.
Rob Pritchard 39:22
House moves and churches, presumably churches you’ve covered. It’s a gathering. So no church meetings?
Howard Quayle 39:28
Yes. No church meetings, no, sadly, no weddings, but funerals will be allowed with a limited number of of 10 people house moves. If it’s unless as exceptional reasons, then I don’t think house moves will be will be allowed but I’m happy to clarify that. I don’t know if Henrietta has any knowledge on house moves.
Henrietta Ewart 39:50
I believe they were permitted previously. So I some of the detail has to be further worked out but I think there are ways of mitigating a house move if there is committed to do that.
Howard Quayle 40:00
I’ll make sure that that’s on our website as soon as possible people can look that up.
Rob Pritchard 40:06
Yeah. Appreciate the clarification. I’ll combine the the two questions of God. We’ve got a lot of people it would see now in isolation, having been at the various venues that have been mentioned and netbank, true tappers and winebar. If they’re in isolation, is it the whole household as well have to isolate with them? And also, masks is a big change from last time if I could have a bit of rationale behind why masks are suddenly back on the agenda this time?
Howard Quayle 40:38
Okay. Well, I think I’ll ask Henrietta as the Director of Public Health on that one.
Henrietta Ewart 40:42
Thank you. So firstly, in respect of self isolation, people will be asked to self isolate along with their household members, if they are identified as a close contact. And this is one of the differences between the cluster that emerged last night, and the one that emerged on New Year’s Eve. Because even though the cases in the New Year’s Eve case had been in various hospitality venues, their behaviour whilst there was actually low risk to other people beyond their immediate group. So we didn’t define other people who happened to be present in those venues at that time, as high risk, they were low risk. The difference with the current cases, and I can’t say too much for obviously, one has to preserve confidentiality. But the issue about the nature of what happened in those venues means that the venues that we are identifying as high risk for the contacts of other people that were there is a different, it’s different in nature to what we had last week, we don’t classify venues as high risk lightly because we appreciate the burden that that then creates for people who were there and their household members. But having taken into account all the evidence about the nature of the interactions, and you’ll remember we’ve said before that what matters with COVID is the amount of interaction between people overwhelmingly that is how it is spread. So one has to look at what has been happening in those venues when the cases were present, and make a call on the level of risk based on that. And that then feeds into determining who is a high risk or low risk contact
Rob Pritchard 42:33
Henrietta Ewart 42:34
masks? Well, that’s an interesting one, because it’s one where the evidence has definitely been accruing over the length of the pandemic. And initially, there was a lot of equivocation, you could take up on the basis of the evidence then available either position either masks or no use at all, or masks potentially reduce the risk of the mask where if in fact, fact is transmitting to others. I’m talking about face coverings now, rather than medical grade, or respirator grade masks where the evidence was always stronger, much stronger, but where you’ll remember there was the issue about preserving the supply for health and care workers who needed the protection the most. There have been ongoing studies throughout the period of the pandemic, from various different countries. And again, they don’t always show clear benefit, or clear absence of benefits. Some of them sit in the middle. Some have design flaws in the way the trials were done that make the results of them not very informative, but taken altogether. The weight of evidence now does favour masks as definitely useful in source control. So that’s preventing spread from the wearer to other people. And increasingly so there is evidence that they also protect the wearer from infection from others.
Rob Pritchard 44:02
Thank you stay safe.
Howard Quayle 44:04
Thank you very much, Tim. And obviously washing your hands is incredibly important as well. That hasn’t gone away number one, right, Josh? Next we have is just Stokes from ITV. Granada. Good afternoon, Josh.
Josh Stokes 44:17
Good afternoon, Chief Minister. My first question, Are you able to go over how these new measures particularly with gatherings and social distancing will be policed? And what’s your message to people who may not be willing to comply given the length of time people have been living in this bubble? So for example, will enforcement take place if people are seeking not to be wearing a face mask?
Howard Quayle 44:35
Well, we are asking people to do their best for their island community. The people of the Isle of Man haven’t let us down. We went 77 months without a case in the community where we were able to get on with our life and that was only because the people of the Isle of Man followed the rules. They worked hard, and I would be very disappointed if people didn’t keep that spirit up. Again, were asking for a three week period. We will Give you regular updates on the situation. And hopefully within three weeks by the 27th of January, we will be able to announce that we’ve gone through this. So it’s only for a short period of time, and I really hope people can respect the rules and regulations. Now obviously, if you, if you break the rules on social gatherings, etc, then there are financial penalties and the usual penalties that were there in, in the first place. But we are asking people to, to be responsible, think of their their, their neighbour, their friend, their mom, their dad, their elderly, relative their child, and take the advice that we’ve given and act on it. And I really think in a small community, the people of the LMS will rise to the challenge and deliver and make us all proud.
Josh Stokes 45:48
So do you think the police will play an active role, you know, going to these gatherings and things? if needs be? Will you will you be endorsing that?
Howard Quayle 45:55
Well, I’m not asking people to go around saying, you know, they didn’t wear a mask for five seconds, and therefore they should be fine, that the police were did a fantastic job the last time and in the ensuing period, and I’m sure they will be even handed going forward. Obviously, if there are gatherings, which is a blatant break abuse of the rules and regulations, then, of course, I would expect that to be to be dealt with, which they did before, but they were limited in number. Sadly, the same sort of regular names and faces. But you know, it’s not big brother here, we’re doing our best to ensure that we come through this, we get back into the situation we’ve enjoyed for nearly seven months now. We’re doing this circuit break to enable us to get back on course. And you know, I have every confidence in the people of the island to to get us there.
Josh Stokes 46:48
Okay, thank you. My second question, you’ve always told us the government will take a cautious approach with a strong gold standard self isolation policy, but do not accept the government’s policy here has failed these new cases that have caused this circuit break to happen follow the government rules, but the virus has still managed to spread.
Howard Quayle 47:06
Yeah, I mean, if you have to put it into context, we have some of the toughest rules in the world. And we apply the gold standard. So the gold standard was 14 days, I think the UK Government have got a 10 day rule for people coming into the to the UK, we went for 14 days. The only successful other jurisdiction was Guernsey who followed exactly the same rules as ourselves. In fact, Guernsey also implemented the test on day one, and the test on day 13. At the same time as ourselves. To make it even even tighter, we the measures we put in place worked well, for the variants of COVID. That was out there for a long time, we saw recently that there was a significant increase in the infection rate in the UK, we took those measures straight away, where we implemented testing on day one, and day 13. And they will protect along with the now the six seven day testing the Ireland going forward. But it’s, you know, you know, we do have some of the toughest measures going to protect the Ireland, it worked for nearly seven months. But sadly, we now find ourselves in this position. But hopefully, in a short period of time, we will be back in that position with no cases and we can get back on with our lives. Henriette, if you want to expand on that,
Henrietta Ewart 48:28
yes, I think really, as we said earlier, the 14 days with the 1% risk, worked extremely well for us until the rates across became so very, very high. And therefore the 1% obviously became much higher. And therefore, you know, what has happened is and
Josh Stokes 48:49
so is there a regret there that there could have been some acting sooner? Or do you think you acted soon enough?
Howard Quayle 48:53
Well, we have to we think we’re the first to act to implement testing on day one and day 13. We brought that in on the 23rd of, of December. And you know, we are now seeing cases where the testing on on day one has caught people and I think today is the first day of day 13 for four people on the island. So yeah, I mean, hindsight is a wonderful thing. But we did bring it in pretty fast when we realised that the increase rate in the UK was getting higher, and that we needed to do take additional measures and as I say the only other successful place in the British Isles, Guernsey implemented as exactly at the same time as the Isle of Man.
Josh Stokes 49:37
Howard Quayle 49:38
Thank you very much, Josh. And last but not least, we have Simon Richardson from business 365. Good afternoon, Simon foster my
Simon Richardson 49:47
Good evening, Chief Minister. And my first question is on the issue of enforcement. Would you need to seek tenable approval for the reinstatement of emergency powers?
Howard Quayle 49:58
Yes, we will be. I’ll be Taking this to Tim world. On the 19th of January, the Council of Ministers does have the powers to implement this for a period of up to 14 days before Tim mould agrees to it, I have given a briefing to all timbal members this afternoon about the measures we have put in place. And obviously, we’ll be taking the recommendations and actions that we’ve taken to Tim will for their approval, but in the interim period, they are legal and can be implemented by the Council of Ministers. But after after that period, we then need to mould approval. So I’m not I don’t want to say Tim mould well not supported. I hope they will. But that will be for Tim to decide whether they wish these regulations to continue
Simon Richardson 50:46
and returning to a subject touched on by Sam earlier. And will those who are sent to the account patient transfers, be fast tracked for vaccination before they travel to UK hospitals.
Howard Quayle 51:00
Right? Well, that’s my understanding. But I think I’d bring in the health minister who’s been working on this. So if you could just do a swap, please. Whilst we’re waiting, obviously, some of the patient transfers, it would be we wouldn’t be able to give them the vaccination due to their their type of illness, it wouldn’t be right to do that it could cause them more problems. But David, would you like to come in? and answer that?
David Ashford 51:27
Yes, we are looking at their assignment. And we are looking at what we can do with patient transfers. But of course, we’ve got to take into account the logistics around the vaccine as well. It’s a two dose vaccine to get the full effect of the vaccine. We know what the folks are while in the clinical trials after one dose came back as about 52%. So that’s obviously better than nothing. For the longer term patient transfers that we know are going continuously. We’ve got that three week window to be able to get them the two doses. But for those that get much shorter notice it’s more of a logistical problem. But we are looking to see what we can do about getting as much protection as we can in place for those patient transfers in terms of vaccination.
Simon Richardson 52:11
Yeah, because presumably, this exposes them to exceptionally high risk going into UK hospitals, without with
David Ashford 52:18
or without vaccination. Where in terms of the vaccination, like I said, we do have to be careful though, because there is only so much protection that one dose will give. And unless they’ve got very low, like I say they’re a regular traveller. So we know their timetable of travel, it is unlikely they will have that three week window to be able to have both doses. So we do have to temperate around how the vaccine has to be delivered as well, and how effective the vaccine is after each of those doses. Okay, thank you.
Howard Quayle 52:48
Right. Well, thank you all very much for those questions. Now. Last time you made the right decisions for you, your family and for your island. I need to ask you to do that, again, to protect what we have achieved, and this time to protect our vaccination programme. We’ve done this before you know what to do to keep yourself your family and your friends and our community safe. And together we can do it again. Stay safe, be responsible. And whenever you can, please stay at home. Thank you very much.