The gov has tonight released the details of a gradual process which, subject to Tynwald backing the plan, should see the island’s borders fully open by July 1.
It comes after Tynwald instructed CoMin to return with a more detailed exit plan in the March sitting and it includes warnings that as the Covid situation develops, plans may need to be changed along the way.
The document also outlines the indicative conditions and target dates for changes to the island’s current border restrictions and describes how individuals, businesses and government all have a role to play in minimising the risk as the island learns to live in a world with Covid-19.
Chief Minister Howard Quayle said: ‘We have always said that we would not be able to keep our borders restricted forever. This framework details how we hope to move away from many of the restrictions we have seen over the past year. Its development has been a team effort. The document that we will debate in Tynwald this week is based on discussions with a wide range of stakeholders including our clinical and public health teams. It takes into account information from the Isle of Man, the United Kingdom and beyond on vaccination progress and infection rates. The time has now come for us to move into our Transition Phase, and to an approach of mitigation – where we increasingly will need to learn to live in a world where the virus is still present around us and may well return to our island.’
After more than 12 months of restrictions, the gov accepts that keeping the borders closed forever is not sustainable and has created a three stage transitioning plan which should lead to the borders fully opening.
Stage 1: May 1 2021 – family, partners and property owners
- Borders moving to level 3
- Reintroduction of shared isolation for all travellers
- Reintroduction of the seven day pathway
- But this is subject to the UK sustaining a rate of under 100 in 100,000 for seven days
Stage 2: May 29 2021 – non-resident mitigated travel
- Borders level 2
- Supports business and society
- Pathways and isolation to be reviewed
- Again this subject to UK vaccination, infection and variants of concern
Stage 3: June 28 2021 – unrestricted travel
- Borders level 1
- Traffic light system aligned to UK for international travel
- Border force and systems in place
- Subject to UK vaccination, infection and variants position
Testing and Isolation
With the progression through the border levels, the gov will also move to introduce different restrictions and testing requirements on all travellers, whether they are a visitor or a resident.
These are based on the 14 day rate of cases in the UK remaining stable for at least seven days.
Level 4 – More than 100 in 100,000 cases – tests on arrival, day six and day 13 with 21 days isolation or 14 days with testing
Level 3 – Between 30 and 100 in 100,000 caes – tests on arrival, day six and day 13 with 21 days isolation or seven days with testing. Shared isolation becomes an option.
Level 2 – Fewer than 30 in 100,000 cases – tests on arrival and day six – 14 days isolation or one day with testing and shared isolation will be an option.
Level 1 – A level of cases equivalent to that on the island, no testing or isolation required
During this period, the gov will move to its mitigation strategy which will include people being required to make ‘informed personal choices’ and following the World Health Organisation’s 3C’s of Consider Spaces, Crowded Places and Close Contact.
This will include advising businesses of their best practice such as encouraging high standards of hygiene, ventilation, personal space and supporting workers’ choice to work from home if they feel unwell etc.
A key aspect of this is the island’s vaccine rollout. Under the revised plan, it is now envisaged that by the end of May, all those over the 30 should have had their first dose and a majority of adults will have had their first vaccine by the end of June.
Responding to Cases
The gov has also included in its plan, what it will do in the event of more cases appearing on the island as the number of people coming into the island increases. Alongside a test and isolation system, the gov will implement its response levels based on the threat to the island.
Normal – The focus will be on personal choice and educating people to be aware of the virus
Level 0 – The new level which encourages increased awareness of the virus and encourages best practice
Level 1 – Introducing mitigation measures in high risk areas such as the hospitals and care homes
Level 2 – Interventions in high risk areas and mitigation elsewhere
Level 3 – Full emergency situation – aka Lockdown
What it Doesn’t Tell Us
The new plan provides a lot more certainty for residents and the island’s hospitality industry but there are some things we don’t know. Some, such as when airlines will begin flying again, is not in the government’s control, but others such as if after we fully reopen, how the borders could begin to tighten again and what the current plan is for the winter when the UK expects a high case load, is not yet known.
Will Tynwald Approve it?
Members are due to debate the plan this week, so we’ll find out soon enough.
You can read the full document for yourself here.