All Schools Shut

All of the island’s schools are to close to all children, including those who are considered vulnerable or are the children of key workers.

A gov statement said: ‘‘Given a growing number of COVID-19 cases on the Island, particularly amongst children, all of the Island’s schools, nurseries and childminders will be closed tomorrow (Friday 5 March).

This difficult decision has been taken to create a firebreak to help stop the spread of the virus, particularly amongst the Island’s young people. The situation will be reviewed over the weekend as the situation becomes clearer.’

The Chief Minister, Howard Quayle MHK, added: ‘As we know, the Kent variant of COVID-19 is particularly virulent and we are seeing it spreading rapidly amongst our community. The virus spreads when people mix and so we need to do all we can to minimise that mixing. We are currently seeing a strong level of transmission between our young people and we need to take every opportunity we have to interrupt this.

‘Whilst much of the opportunity for transmission has been minimised through the circuit break, there are still a number of settings where children are moving around outside of the home. In the interests of children and broader society, we need to prevent children from mixing.

‘The closure of schools and childcare facilities on Friday will create a firebreak, and the message is simple, if you have children, they must not mix with children from other households and should stay at home on Friday.

‘This decision has not been taken lightly and is on the advice of Public Health and other professionals managing our response to this pandemic. I appreciate that it will present a challenge to our children and for a number of people who provide essential and indeed critical services for our Island but at the moment we feel this action is in the best interests of our young people and our community.”

For essential workers only, other family members may provide childcare and children of separated households are able to travel between parents’ homes for the provision of childcare. However, children from different households should not mix.

Household groups can continue to exercise with their children. All outdoor play areas will be closed.

The Chief Minister will provide an update at a COVID briefing at 4pm on Friday.