This is a very rough and unverified transcript of the Isle of Man Government Press Conference conducted on Wednesday 6th 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. And thank you for joining us today, as we head into our circuit break lockdown night tonight. While most of the measures come into force from one minute past midnight tonight, I know that there has been a lot of activity in the private, public and third sectors to get ready. Thank you very much. Before I go any further, I would like to invite the Minister for health and social care to update us on testing and our contact tracing. David.
David Ashford 0:30
Thank you, Chief Minister. The total number of tests undertaken is 22,289. We are awaiting test results of 110. The number of tests undertaken the previous 24 hours is 312. Our total number of confirmed cases now stands at 389. That’s a rise of three new cases since the press briefing yesterday. We have 15 active cases, one of which is in hospital in relation to the three new cases. The two of them are day one tests, and they do not relate of the three new cases as far as we can tell to what was had been identified in recent days. Thank you, Chief Minister.
Howard Quayle 1:13
Thank you very much, David. It will of course, take some time to get a full picture of the spread in our community turned into progress with our contact tracing. I’ll now hand over to our Director of health Dr. uite. Henrietta, would you like to give us an update please, Minister.
Henrietta Ewart 1:28
Yesterday we identified the truth wine and Tapas Bar on Parliament Street and Ramsey as a high risk location for COVID-19. We asked anyone who attended the bar either on New Year’s Eve between 5pm and 1am or Saturday second of January between 5pm and 11:45pm. to self isolate immediately, the venue was identified as a high risk location after an individual who was identified as a close contact of a confirmed case tested positive for COVID-19 130 people have contacted COVID 111. As a result of our appeal, they are now self isolating and have have been offered tests. And we’re awaiting the results of those. I want to thank everyone who has responded and been so responsible in coming forward. For anyone who was at the venue on those dates and times but hasn’t got in touch, please self isolate and contact COVID 111 for further advice. In addition, 14 further locations have been identified that pose a low risk of contracting COVID-19. For people who visited on specific dates and times. I must emphasise that point. These are low risk venues. So this is the same situation as the venues we announced on New Year’s Eve. If you visited these venues on the dates and times, which I’ll go through in a moment, you do not need to self isolate. However, if you were there, please self monitor for COVID-19 symptoms, which include fever of any grade, cough or difficulty breathing, or change in your sense of taste or smell for 14 days from the date that you were there. If you develop any of those symptoms, please self isolate immediately and call COVID 111 for further advice. The businesses that have been visited and that are on the list I’m about to read do not need to do anything in relation to this. The dates and times and venues are as follows. Thursday 31st of December 2020 1300 to 1400 that’s one o’clock two o’clock pm Mad Hatter’s Victoria buildings 54 Parliament street Ramsay one o’clock 2pm same day pure inspiration Parliament street Ramsey 20 past 820 past midnight majestic Chinese King Edward road Douglas. Then on Saturday, the second of January 2021 1115 to 12pm the caf Lord St. Douglas 12 o’clock to one o’clock pm. Capone’s strand street Douglas 1215 to two o’clock b&b furniture, snug brick trading estate, Douglas 1230 to 130 tescos in Douglas. One o’clock to 130 Burton’s in strand Street, Douglas, one o’clock to 130 jack store strand Street, Douglas 130 to two o’clock curries, Spring Valley industrial estate, do 15 to 45 b&q, Spring Valley industrial estate, three o’clock to 330 McDonald’s peel road Douglas that’s people who were in there for sitting only 330 to 345 court cafe, Parliament street Ramsey 300 to two minutes past for Ramsey self service laundry simpol Square Ramsey. I know that’s an awful long list of both venues and times. And all that information will shortly be available on the golf.im site. Thank you, Chief Minister.
Howard Quayle 5:17
Thank you very much, Henrietta, for that update. My thanks to everyone who has come forward following our appeal, and thank you for being responsible and doing the right thing. None of the decisions that we took yesterday, were easy. But as I described earlier, given what we know about the virus, and about the wider context in which we sit, it was right to be bold. We do not claim to have all the answers at this stage. But it was clear to all in the Council of Ministers that the worst course of action would have been taking no decision at all. One set of decisions that were particularly difficult was around schools. And I know this impacts a lot of people on the island. rightly, it is extremely emotive, as well as the Minister for health and social care and our Director of Public Health. We are joined today by Dr. Alex alanson, the Minister of Education, sport and culture, who will be able to update us on preparations currently underway in our schools. Before I hand over to Dr. alanson, I would like to pick up on a couple of points of clarification from yesterday’s announcements. There was a lot to communicate yesterday, and of some things were not clear that I apologise. Much of what we announced yesterday would have been familiar to people. It was broadly what we experienced at different moments last spring. One aspect that was new was our approach regarding face coverings. And I know this has led to some questions from the public. I would like to take a minute or two to clarify, to please excuse me if I cover some of the same ground as yesterday, but I want to ensure we are as clear as possible. The overarching headline is simple. We strongly recommend that you wear a face covering whenever you are out of your house. As the Director of Public Health described yesterday, the more scientists observe and understand the virus, the more they are aware that face coverings play a really important role in reducing the risk to the wearer, and those around face coverings can have a real impact on reducing the spread of the virus. I hope this is clear. This would apply to the vast majority of cases. There is some detail that is important for me to mention. A face covering will be compulsory on public transport. For your daily exercise, it is not compulsory, it is a matter for you. If you were one, then please do. But we fully appreciate that some exercise makes this impractical. But please be responsible stay away from other people. There is an exception to this last point under the new regime for returning residents. If their day one and day seven tests are negative, they will be able to start doing outside exercise again. But these people but for these people are face covering will be compulsory, they will have to tailor their exercise accordingly.
Howard Quayle 8:28
As to those who are still in a workplace beyond tonight, for whatever reason, the same advice applies. When moving around the workplace and in any communal settings. Please wear a face covering. If you are SAT or stood at your workplace, and socially distance on your own for prolonged periods, then we do understand the face covering may not always be necessary. But for the moment, we all contend that this is a matter for employees and for their employers. I hope that helps. Please remember that if you have any queries to please go to our email@example.com forward slash COVID-19 or call the community support line on 686262. Both are now up and running. I have heard that the community support line has been inundated and people are having difficulty getting through. We have allocated extra staff to it and this should improve. In the meantime, if you can use the website, please do so. So that those who really need the phone line can use it. Two points that they are being asked a lot about around are around childcare and house moving and maybe I could address those here. People are asking if they can move house. As we did back in the spring. We would ask that if you can delay until the end of the circuit break then please do so, however, if it is not possible, by which I mean you are contractually obliged to proceed, then house moves can take place, but only in accordance with the strictest possible social distancing measures in place. But to be clear, house viewings should not proceed at this time. On the childcare point, people have been asking whether a grandparent or close family member can look after children during this lockdown period. The answer is that yes, for children of essential workers only. So it’s essential workers only children, as long as that family family member is not shielding. And as long as the children were dropped door to door, no popping in for a cup of tea please. At this point, I would like to hand over to the Minister for Education, sport and culture, who I know would like to cover a number of important areas including hubs, schools, nurseries, vouchers to replace free school meals and the start of remote learning. The minister will I’m sure also share our latest thinking on exams following a statement by the UK Education Secretary just this afternoon, Alex.
Alex Allinson 11:17
Thank you, Chief Minister. I know that the decision to entrust circuit break lockdown has been a disappointment to many, but the Council of Ministers believe this is essential to protect life and our NHS. Although children are unlikely to develop a serious illness due to COVID-19. They can contract the virus and often remain asymptomatic due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19 in schools across. We’ve made the difficult decision to close schools and nurseries from the from tonight for the next three weeks. Tomorrow morning, nine primary schools and all five secondary schools will reopen for vulnerable children and those of key workers. This is the same structure we used last year, which was a very successful meeting has been ongoing since the chief minister’s announcement yesterday, and I would like to pay tribute to the head teachers and school staff for their amazing work and dedication in getting services ready in such a short period of time. The usual bus service will not be running from tomorrow, students are encouraged to take one of the schedule buses or gets their school another way. We will be discussing transport provision for next week. Once we know the potential demand. The Chief Minister has already discussed evidence about the use of face coverings in controlling the spread of the disease. Any pupil or teacher who wishes to wear a face covering within a school is welcome to do so. This is not compulsory, and we would ask people to bring their own reusable mask if possible. But supplies of PP will be made available. Whilst we would ask all children who can stay safely at home to do so. If your child has additional additional educational needs, or is vulnerable. Please discuss this with their teacher, as places are available in the specialist units at our schools. If you are a key worker, please discuss your needs with your child’s teacher. Most children will be keeping up with their education at home. I think that the experience of last year taught us that all the true value of learning. Since then school leaders, educationalists and teacher unions have been working together to perfect remote learning protocols and guidelines. last term over 120 laptops were provided to exam students who were digitally disadvantaged, and this week, extra devices have been loaned to pupils who need them. It’s important that employers recognise the strain that many parents are under when working from home and at the same time supervising their child’s education. Parents shouldn’t have to become teachers themselves. And our remote learning provision will make sure that pupils can keep up with their own schools curriculum over the next three weeks. The department is also working with nurseries and childminders to ensure adequate provision for vulnerable children. And those are key workers to support families and protect our essential services. Our school cleaners and kitchen staff are essential for keeping our schools safe and serving hot daily meals. For those pupils who usually receive free school meals and are not attending school. Grocery vouchers will be sent out last week in the same way as we did last year. Unfortunately, the NSC regional pools and the variegated complex will be closed for the next three weeks. performances and rehearsals will need to be rescheduled. And I would like to apologise to the artists and performers for this, but hope they understand the reasons and the hard work going on behind the scenes by our staff to ensure that these facilities can reopen as soon as it is safe to do so. Teachers have been preparing this week for mock exams, but in our Switching quickly to remote learning, vocational and technical qualification exams and B techs are currently going ahead as claimed in schools in UCM. with individual health and safety assessments employed to ensure the safety of students and staff. The future of exams this summer has been placed in doubt by the UK Prime Minister’s statement earlier this week. Earlier today, England’s Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announced that English of quote reticulated GCSEs, and a levels would now not be taking place this year. And as he said, we will be putting our trust in teachers rather than algorithms. The department is in regular communication with the Cambridge International assessment board, who marked the GCSE and a levels to clarify their position on whether these exams will also now be taking place or whether we will be switching to teach reassessment. And we will try to get that information to all those involved as soon as possible. We will ensure that all lmm students are on a level playing field with their United Kingdom compatriots, and that they get the chance to fulfil their potential and achieve their educational goals. Whatever the uncertainty, it is vitally important that all our students continue to learn with a hub school or at home, continue their coursework assessments and keep up with the curriculum. Our university students who were planning to return to colleges in the UK, are advised to speak to their faculties. Many courses have now been made available online, and colleges are dissuading students from returning during January. Some subjects which include practical assessments, such as medicine and health related courses, nursing and education will be restarting as planned. Should any student require further advice on perhaps changing their higher education course practicals to support or pastoral care, they’re invited contacts UCM, which has made some of their staff available to support Parliament students studying across their education must not become a victim of this virus. And with help of their parents, families and the excellent teachers and lecturers we have on our island, we can get through the next three weeks and then get back on track. Thank you, Chief Minister.
Howard Quayle 17:20
Thanks very much, Alex. Now midnight tonight sees us heading into a new phase in our struggle against COVID. I would like to go through the major changes that will come into force for these next 21 days. The most important point is that we need everyone to stay at home as much as possible. Only go into work if you cannot work from home. And if you absolutely have to go in then please ensure rigorous social distancing. If you didn’t do need to go out then please wear a face covering and maintain a two metre distance from anyone who was not a member of your household. Face coverings will be compulsory in public transport. Please do not gather indoors or out with anyone who is not a member of your household. Yes, you can go out to exercise, but please only either alone or with members of your household. And as earlier mentioned, please be considerate to others. As you’ve just heard schools and nurseries for the 21 day period will only be available to children of critical workers and vulnerable children. All hospitality, lifestyle businesses, leisure facilities and non essential shops will close tonight. The only exception for Hospitality will be for takeaway or delivery, no eating in. When you go shopping. Please minimise numbers, one person from a household or one person and a child only if you are a single parents. And please think of others. There are no problems with food supplies. hoarding is not necessary, and will only impact on other members of our community. If you shielded last time, do so again, initially for one week, while we will review we would strongly encourage you to not travel off Island. But from tomorrow morning. If you are returning to the island, you cannot self isolate with anyone you didn’t travel with. And you will need to take and pay for three tests. If you don’t want to do three tests, then you will have to isolate for 21 days. I know none of this will be easy. We have been incredibly lucky for the last six months or so. I’m hopeful that we can get this that if we get the circuit break right and if everyone plays their part, we can get back to that enviable position. Meanwhile, our vaccination programme will continue and I have asked the health and social care minister to give us Fall update on that tomorrow. I mentioned yesterday that the Treasury has put back in place a range of financial support. They have now put out some additional detail on that. And I hope the Treasury minister will brief you in more detail this week. I will pause now and take some questions from the media. And first we have is Helen McKenna, from Isle of Man newspapers. Good afternoon, Helen foster my
Helen McKenna 20:26
new ministers. Firstly, has the governor signed a new state of emergency documents
Howard Quayle 20:34
that’s being done as we speak. And now everything has been agreed by the Council of Ministers. And that will be in place for all these measures coming in place tonight.
Helen McKenna 20:45
And my second question is lots of notes. And what clarification can be given about whether university students will require exemptions? Obviously, you’ve mentioned that they’ve been advised to speak CCM. But can you give any clarification on this? Alex, would you like to
Alex Allinson 21:06
say I’m sorry? How are you talking about exemptions for travel or
Helen McKenna 21:10
Yes, sir exemptions to travel back to
Alex Allinson 21:13
travel back. As far as we know that there shouldn’t be any problem leaving the island and then travelling in the United Kingdom, back to the college or university. On Christmas, New Year’s Eve, the Secretary of State for university sent out a letter, basically saying that the starting date for universities will be staggered over January. But those students who are studying key subjects that required practical evaluations should come back on time. And so far, we don’t know that any student has been hindered in any way getting back to the university. It is obviously an area of concern. And if any students are coming are worried about when they should restart University, because it varies according to the course and the university involved. We suggest that they contact the university directly. But if they do run into any problems or are anxious about going back, please contact the Department and we will do as much as we can to make sure they’re able to travel across the United Kingdom. Obviously, some have already travelled across, some may be wanting to come back in the near future. And in the past, we have asked all students to register for exemption certificates, they can do that relatively easily. Although now we obviously have a different testing regime when they come back from the United Kingdom to ensure that our community is safe here. Okay, thank you.
Howard Quayle 22:29
Thank you very much, Helen. Now we move on to Sam Turton from Jeff the mongoose. Good afternoon, Sam faster. My
Sam Turton 22:37
Good afternoon, Chief Minister. So just I’ve done the same thing. And I just want to ask Mr. Ashe for the question was, yes. Thank you. And yesterday’s briefing, you said capacity at nobles was limited. What is the status of the COVID Ward? And what projections do we have for any potential increase in patients aren’t nobles that may be requiring treatment for COVID.
David Ashford 23:09
So in relation to the co COVID, Ward, Sam, at the moment, we’re using side rooms. So we’ve been using the side rooms at the moment, we only have one patient, one code of patient within the hospital, who is located away in a side room, and any staff going in and out of that room, we use an appropriate PPA, should we have a wider outbreak should that be identified, we would go back to our plans which we had in place in the last outbreak, which was basically we would start shorting individual boards and making them into full COVID boards.
Sam Turton 23:45
And secondly, in terms of vaccine rollout, there’s been quite a lot of people that we should be increasing the numbers that we are doing, given the state of the room for a lockdown. Is this something that has been considered and if not Why?
David Ashford 24:01
Well, it’s dependent upon delivery Sam, I think, as I’ve explained before, our deliveries are staged over the next nine months. So it’s not a case of the island is entitled to 180,000 vaccines and we’re going to get them all in one go. They’ve actually staged deliveries. So we are rolling out the vaccines that we’ve got we’ve the first 975 will be done this week. One good piece of good news that I can give is that like a lot of places people will have seen these reports where people have said they’re getting six doses out of the vials instead of five. That is the case with us as well. So we will be able to do more than we anticipated in in shorter time. Thank you.
Howard Quayle 24:42
Thank you very much, Sam. We now move on to Leanne cook from three FM Good afternoon, Liam Foster. My
Leanne Cook 24:49
Good afternoon, Chief Minister, my first question is probably the question we’ve received the most and single parents particularly they’re wanting to know what these new restrictions mean for people who have joint custody. So that children who perhaps spend time between two different households?
Howard Quayle 25:04
Yeah, I know I’ve responded to a few of these. And the answer is, yes, if you are a divorced couple of separated couple and you have responsibility for a child, then you are allowed for the child to move to continue to move between the household. That’s what was allowed last time. However, again, there’s no going in for a cup of tea and a chat between the parents that that’s probably a lot unlikely, but that the child can move backwards and forwards and we just asked the the people doing the taking the child from one household to the other, to obviously be responsible with face coverings, hand washing, etc, and follow all the sensible rules.
Leanne Cook 25:42
Okay, thank you. And my second question is for the health minister, I know you’ve confirmed elective surgeries are temporarily cancelled, but just looking for clarification, again from the public, what the procedure is for hospital and doctor appointments in the next three weeks.
David Ashford 25:57
So at the moment, all outpatient appointments are continuing as normal. I do have to stress that it is purely being a suspension of elective that is going to be reassessed tonight, to see if we can turn elective surgery back on. The elective surgery with decision was purely taken around securing bed capacity at nobles. And that’s what will inform the decision going forward. So things that don’t affect the bed capacity, such as outpatient appointments have been continuing. There will of course be restrictions around that because they’ll need to be the use of appropriate PPA, all that has been reintroduced. But we are continuing with all the services as we were beforehand,
Leanne Cook 26:35
and GP appointments so that continuing to write well not prioritise but have more phone to phone conversations as opposed to face to face.
David Ashford 26:43
The system hasn’t changed in that regard again, changes in use of appropriate pee pee where the pee pee guidance there was in place during the pandemic has been brought back in.
Unknown Speaker 26:53
Okay, thank you.
Howard Quayle 26:55
Thank you very much. Now we now move on to Paul Moulton from Isle of Man television. Good afternoon, Paul foster my Good afternoon, Chief
Paul Moulton 27:02
Minister for a question. Can I just clarify about facemasks? Could children? Is there any advice on yes or no for that?
Howard Quayle 27:09
Well, obviously, if you can, and your child Well, then, yes, wear a face mask I, I think if you look at the original COVID-19 young people did not tend to get infected as much as adults, the new variant of COVID-19 is clearly showing that younger people are nearly as infectious as adults going forward. And therefore, if you can get a young person to wear a face mask, then we would recommend that, again, we are not making this compulsory. It’s best advice. The only time it’s compulsory is when you go in and public transport and then in the work place, it’s between the employee and the employers to work out a sensible arrangement. Okay, my
Paul Moulton 27:55
first question then, some government employees, I’ve been told they should they want to shield but they need to take either annual holiday unpaid leave or time owing to cover that. Is that correct? Is that the official policy of the government for government workers?
Howard Quayle 28:09
Right? I can’t give you an answer on that politics. It’s news to me. I mean, we asked people to work from home. So if you are shielding, you should be able to work from home. I’m not aware of people being told that you if you go home, and you don’t do work for government, then you take as part of your holidays. But what I will do is I will give you an update tomorrow at the briefing. Should the information I’ve just given you be different. But I’ll give you an update on that poll.
Paul Moulton 28:38
Thank you. And the same question is we’ve got 130 people that came forward from this place in Ramsey. And that’s great, obviously, good news. But how many are you expecting now? And is the danger potentially there that people haven’t come forward? Could be spreading without knowing it? Or, you know, how can get the information to make sure these people come forward? How many do you need to get a full house of people who have been to that venue?
Howard Quayle 29:01
We’d like everyone to to contact us. Obviously, we’ve given out the details. Now Henry has given a quite a lengthy number. I don’t know if either David or Henrietta wants to come in and expand on that.
David Ashford 29:13
Yeah, I’ll bring the Director of Public Health in in a minute, Paul. But what are the key things to point is this is the point of having a circuit breaker for 21 days, because you’re not going to get everyone necessarily coming forward. And we need to assess if there is any spread, and if so how far. So that’s one of the purposes of a 21 day circuit breaker in relation to these places. I would urge people who are in the high risk clusters, the high risk venues to come forward. We have the testing capacity to be able to test them and get the results back but I’ll bring the Director of Public Health in
Henrietta Ewart 29:49
actually, the Minister of Health has explained that very well. So I don’t really have very much to add. Obviously, we have no way of compelling people to come forward. So we can’t do that and neither Can we compel them to have tests if they do come forward. So you’ll never have a complete failsafe for tracking down everybody. And as the minister said, this is the reason for having the 21 day circuit breaker period put around this, because we cannot be sure we cannot assure ourselves that we are going to be able to identify all the potential onward transmission chains from the clusters that have been identified. And therefore we’re having the period of 21 days to maximise the chance that if there is anything that has managed to get seeded out into the community, we will pick it up.
Paul Moulton 30:35
So I just want to give 130 was a good response, in a sense had they had in 500 people that night, just as anyone that’s you know, how many people potentially need to come forward?
Henrietta Ewart 30:44
We know, we know pretty well how many needs to come forward from one of the evenings, because it was a booked event. And we have had very, very good response from that. The second evening, we don’t have precise numbers, but we believe we’re getting an extremely good response. We don’t have any worries that people are not coming forward in large numbers.
Howard Quayle 31:09
Okay, thank you very much, Paul. I’m just before we move on to Tim Glover from Manx radio, if I could just say I think Helen asked me about from all my newspapers about the state of emergency regulations. We’re not doing this under the state of emergency regulation. So my apologies, we are with the regulations. We’ll be ready for tonight. But they will not be from the state of emergency. we’ve, we’ve got new laws now, which we’ve taken through timbrels. Some of them will be through our public health regulation. So just to clarify that point for you, Helen. So now we move on to Tim Glover from Manx radio Good afternoon, Tim faster, my
Tim Glover 31:47
faster my chest. I’m clarifications. It’s not a way of trying to get an extra question. And but I think there’s an error in the venues that you’ve given out. The majestic Chinese was quoted as 59 King Edward Road To my knowledge and a lot of other people’s knowledge. It’s at the Palace Hotel on central promenade, is it not?
Henrietta Ewart 32:08
I think you’re probably correct there. We need to check that.
Howard Quayle 32:12
Right. Thanks for that term. Sorry that we’ve got that wrong. We’ll make sure it’s on the website. But we’ll we’ll take it for the clarification that you’ve that you’ve given.
Tim Glover 32:22
Okay, and just with regard to the truth wine bar and tap as they confirmed by social media that a staff member tested positive yesterday. So is this the source? As you’re saying it’s the high risk venue of this current cluster, and how many of these new cases have been out in the community? I think it’d be 10. In two days,
Henrietta Ewart 32:46
we’re not able to comment on the details of any particular individual. So I’m unable to confirm your initial statement there. In terms of people going out into the community, it’s the people that have been identified as positives who were originally returning travellers, they have been out in the community, and that’s led to the venue’s being identified that we’ve published.
Howard Quayle 33:09
I think also, for clarification, 10 of the 10 I don’t think it’s 10 people related to this cluster, we’ve had three or four who’ve been day one returning residents coming to the island, which is where we expect to get from time to time, and they have no relationship whatsoever to the cluster, the second cluster that we are concerned about so it’s not 10 it’s probably four or five at this moment in time the rest have been day one travellers coming back have been tested.
Tim Glover 33:41
Thank you. And just um, the the figures that are being presented, we’re getting obviously one admitted in hospital, 14 isolated non community, is that really correct, man? Is that the best interpretation government can put on that
Howard Quayle 33:56
road? David, you want to comment on that?
David Ashford 34:01
Well, Tim, you’ve actually just raised something I have raised today. And the reason it’s got the non community betters this goes back to the debate around community transmission. I spoke to the team actually, funnily enough, just before the briefing, I suggested we should go back for the public figures with the way we actually used to declare things. So that so that is what’s being looked at at the moment.
Tim Glover 34:21
Howard Quayle 34:23
Thanks very much, Tim. And last but not least, we have Simon Richardson from business 365. Good afternoon, Simon foster my
Simon Richardson 34:32
that my first question if I’m a sport, doctor. Okay.
Simon Richardson 34:42
Thank you, and when do you what do you find out if any of them are recent positive cases carrying the new variant of the virus? And if it turns out that they have it? Do you think a three weeks circuit rate break will be long enough to eradicate the outbreak?
Henrietta Ewart 35:01
The variant does not at the moment make any difference as far as we know, to the timings of how the virus behaves. So in respect of that, probably not. But obviously, this is a very fast moving situation, and more evidence and investigation into the nature of the variant is accruing all the time. And obviously, we keep up to date with that. But at the moment, as we understand it, the timings from the epidemiological perspective, so that’s incubation periods, length of infectivity, etc, are no different, it is just the level of transmissibility, that is so much greater. And in respect of the time to get results back, we should be getting our initial results back at the end of this week or the beginning of next. And one of the very interesting things that we will be able to find from that is whether any of these cases, from the to what appear to be completely separate clusters turned out to be related at the moment from the epidemiology, we have no suspicion of that at all, they seem to be completely separate. But obviously, the genomics will give us further information on that.
Simon Richardson 36:10
Thank you very much. My second question is for the chief minister, and it relates to the rules that have been laid down, and there’s no apparent anomaly in that building supply companies are allowed to remain open, but construction sites are being closed down. What’s the reasoning behind that?
Howard Quayle 36:31
Right? Well, this is the same as we did last time, I don’t think it’s an anomaly. We recognise especially at this time of the year that sadly, there will be leakages in your in your roof that your central heating boiler may break down that you might have a burst pipe, etc, etc, that your your cooker might break down, you know, the list of what we would consider to be emergency supplies. So we are allowing these businesses to remain open so that those traders that need to go into people’s houses to fix your either your heating or problem with a roof are have the supplies for the public. It’s what we did the last time it’s sensible to obviously do it again. And but you will not be allowed to you know, start a new building, project or start a new kitchen being fitted. If you’re halfway through and you got a problem. That’s fine. As I say, if there’s a leak in your roof or your boiler goes off, then we must have these businesses open so that the trades that need to go and fix them will be able to get their hands on the supplies. And we did do this Simon, that the in like last year when we had a close a shutdown. Thank you very much. Thank you. Okay. Well, thank you all very much for those questions. And and fact a big thank you to the media for the important role that they play in getting information out to the island community. So thanks very much, folks. And I would like to thank everyone out there for the determination and resolve I know you will show over the next 21 days. It is something of which this island is rightly proud. We did it before and we can do it again. Let’s work together to get this done. Let’s support each other, be kind to each other, look out for each other, be considerate of others. And hopefully we can come out of this circuit free again of this virus. Please remember the basics. Stay at home as much as you possibly can. If you need to go out then wear a face covering as much as you possibly can. If you have any symptoms and stay at home and call 111 as soon as you possibly can make the right decisions to keep you your family and your islands safe to protect what we have achieved and this time to protect our vaccination programme. Stay safe, be responsible. And whenever you can, please stay at home. Thank you all very much