The Chief Minister has provided Tynwald with an update on the island’s Covid situation, with the key lesson being to listen to Thursday’s briefing.

President Steve Rodan – 140 years ago this month, Manx women were the first in the world to vote in a general election. Women voted in both Andreas and Bride, this was an important step on the road to the democracy that we enjoy today. Now a statement from the Chief Minister.

HQ – During the past week the news has been mixed. We have seen a drop in new cases and as a result the number of active cases, those in isolation and no unknown spread for five days. We may be able to ease some restrictions very soon. We can’t rule out occasional unknown source cases and we are ready for that. For this reason CoMin has been considering how and when to release restrictions, I will have more to say about this on Thursday but we’re not there yet.

However sadly we had two further deaths in our community, I want to extend my sincere condolences to their friends and family. We are a close knit community and many people will be affected by this heartbreaking news. 

This is why people must stay at home. Following the rules shows our commitment to each other.

Sacrifices made by the public remain our biggest contribution to isolating and stopping this virus. 

Another important weapon is our vax programme, we are so indebted to the vax team. Nearly 50,000 doses done and on hitting that landmark we can only send our gratitude to the team. This is not a competition even though some of you try to compare us to the other Crown Dependencies. 

We can now hopefully begin to see easing of measures. None of us want another lockdown so we have to ease restrictions carefully. This is like holding a tiger by the tail, you have to be careful as to how you let it go.

The easing will likely begin with outdoor work and meeting outdoors but this will need to be done gradually.

Questions

Julie Edge – Thanks for the update, you say our actions make the difference, given that yesterday you said what happens to our own cost when you open schools with Covid circulating so what are you going to do differently this time to avoid repeat of the error in judgment saying schools were safe.

HQ – Dr Al is working hard with his department and Public Health on this, there will be a statement on Thursday.

Bill Shimmins – What progress has been made on the Emergency Advisory Group?

HQ – CoMin has considered the terms of reference and will be shared later.

Claire Christian – Can you confirm if lateral flow tests will become part of the surveillance programme? Guernsey has bought 80,000 for law enforcement and teachers.

HQ – Under consideration. Jersey has had a different way of doing things but yes we are looking at it.

Jason Moorhouse – Last Thursday you gave a good explanation about the four E’s of Policing [Engage, Explain, Encourage and Enforce], how aware are you of people breaking the regulations by taking advantage of this?

HQ – Not for a politician to get involved with the running of police but I will ask the Home Affairs Minister to speak to Chief Constable.

Julie Edge 2 – I’ll ask again, what actions will CoMin take? Are you doing a review over the decision to open schools last time?

HQ – We’ve talked about this many times, CoMin agreed because we had tests back from high risk contacts and they were negative, unfortunately it was burning elsewhere. The advice we had was there was no risk to the community but that didn’t pan out.

Julie Edge 3 – This isn’t about blame, this about decision making, you keep repeating you had advice from Public Health, did you have advice from head teachers?

HQ – Personally no, that’s DESC business, hindsight is a wonderful thing, we of course take on experiences and hopefully we won’t be in this experience again.

Julie Edge 4 – Since we’re not getting a straight answer about if you’re reviewing the advice you’re receiving. I’m concerned, will you listen to the advisory group? The decisions of that weekend have not helped in this situation.

HQ – Yes we will listen to the advisory council in the same way we listen to experts who offer advice to CoMin. We act in the best interest of the people of the Isle of Man and where mistakes are made we review the situation. Some things are fast moving. 

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