Nearly a year after the pandemic began, the Manx gov has now published its proposed exit strategy, which will, in time, lead to the opening of our borders. 

The document itself is just under 30 pages and consists of a history lesson, a look at where we are, and the aim for where we’re going. Gef recognises you’re all busy people, so we’ve compiled the key facts, dates and variables.

Reading between the waffle lines, here’s our summary:

Key Target Dates

Unlike Boris Johnson’s plan, the Manx gov is not listing a series of dates saying, for example, when pubs can reopen. 

Instead, it has broken its strategy into three phases: Preparation, Transition and Release. 

While we miss the pubs already and want to get back to them, this document focuses on the big one for the island, Borders. The first phase is likely to be in place through until about the end of April, the second from May to August, and finally September onwards.

What is the logic?

As has been previously mentioned, the ‘framework’ and the phases are primarily underpinned by the speed and success of the vaccine roll out. As HQ has said, we will be led by data, not dates.

The basic equation used;

+ More Manx Vaccination

-Low UK infection rate 

-Low risk of new strains 

     = Border restriction easing 

When Can I See My Family and Friends?

Let’s just get the most important question out of the way first. The gov says in its strategy: ‘We hope by the end of the preparation phase to be able to welcome friends and family to the island, albeit under the same mitigations as residents currently follow.’

Based on this timeline, this could be possibly May onwards. However what isn’t clear from the roadmap is exactly what restrictions would be on people visiting as the only guidance offered is 14 days isolation and testing, but it doesn’t detail how this would realistically work for visiting relatives.

Preparation

Target period: Now to the end of April

Really this is where we are now. We are unlikely to see major changes in our status, lockdown aside, before the end of April. Realistically the spread of the virus across the UK won’t drastically change in this period while the vaccine rollout is continuing, the risk of a further outbreak and more lockdowns remains high.
However, in this period, all those in the priority one groups, everyone over the age of 50 and those with underlying health issues, should have been given their first dose of vaccine. 

Transition
Target period: May to August

By the end of May, the gov aims to have offered all adults their first dose of vaccine and by the end of June, it expects to have given all in the priority one groups their second dose.

The risk to the hospital is likely to remain initially high during this stage. However the gov says it may move from 14 days isolation to seven days with two tests and increasing the number of people it will let across the border.

By the end of this period, in line with the vaccine rollout, the risk to Nobles should have dropped significantly and the risk of future lockdowns will diminish too. However, the gov says ‘there is still likely to be a need for some level of border restrictions and controls due to the UK threat’.

It adds: ‘Hopefully there will be opportunities as part of this transition phase to consider a more acceptable mitigation strategy throughout this period, with any residual restrictions being reviewed in the final release phase.’

Release

Target: September onwards

By this stage, the island’s whole population, including those under 16, should have been offered the vaccine and the risks of the virus should be minimised, not only here but in the UK and the wider world.

The gov hopes that by now, it will have been able to remove all border restrictions. The UK may keep some of its restrictions with riskier countries, but this will have to be examined closer to the time and it is unclear how this would affect Manx residents. And we are yet to understand any concrete details around vaccine passports, here in the UK or further afield.

Could it Come Sooner?

In short yes. The release stage could come sooner if vaccine supply ramps up, cases across the UK and here fall significantly, then it is entirely possible. However, the gov warns in its doc ‘we do need to be realistic on the amount of unknowns, and contradictory information that currently exists’. The reference the document as being a ‘framework’ rather than a ‘plan’.

Vaccines

The document outlines five key vaccination programme milestones that are expected over

the next few months:

  • Priority One groups first dosage – currently expected by the end of April

  • Adult Population first dosage – currently expected by the end of May

  • Priority One Groups second dosage complete – currently expected by the end of

  • June

  • Completion of the Adult Population – currently expected by the end of July

  • Completion of the Entire population– currently expected to be the end of September

  • (subject to evidence of efficacy and safety in those aged 16 and younger, and MHRA

  • approval)

Testing

An interesting part of the strategy revolves around testing. Under level three border controls and above, everyone who comes to the island will need to be tested. But as we move towards a return to normality, the gov says it may move to ‘additional testing pathways, such as the less accurate lateral flow tests used in specific circumstances, to provide additional comfort’.

The document also hints towards the 111 service becoming a full time fixture as part of the long term response. 

Howard’s View

In releasing the exit strategy, the Chief Minister has said: ‘This is in no way a ‘plan’ and even with the best will in the world at this point it is impossible to set a framework in stone, the approach may change, and the dates almost certainly will. This is a working document, and we hope to hone this approach in line with feedback from the Manx public and our business sectors. Our response to Coronavirus has always been a fine balance across the complex areas of our society, economy and health service, and we have always taken Manx decisions for our Manx situation. 

‘Going forward, we will continue to listen to the information coming from around the world and as well as what our people, our businesses and our society think as we approach major decisions.

‘We also know that it is important to provide clarity to our residents, and our business sector as best we can – in particular those that are impacted by ongoing border controls. It is important to note that while the document does outline draft dates, there may be opportunity for us to speed up this timeline and we will continue to assess and monitor the position.’

Your view

So what do you think? You can read the full document below. 

 Let us know in the comments or via email hello@gef.im 

*The link to the strategy may not work on your Gef app, but if go onto gef.im on browser it will work.