Tynwald will this week be asked to approve a new entry regime where people in receipt of two recognised Covid vaccinations will be able to bypass isolation requirements.
The gov’s COVID-19 Exit Framework set out the aim of removing travel restrictions for journeys between the island and the rest of the British Isles by Monday June 28, this will now not happen for everyone.
The new regulations, released on a supplementary order paper, also make provision for the dissolution of the House of Keys during the summer recess to allow CoMin to act if necessary.
In place of an open border, the gov will instead introduce a a two jabs and two weeks strategy, which subject to Tynwald approval, would see restriction-free travel for both residents and non-residents from the UK and Ireland who have had both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine at least a two weeks ahead of their proposed arrival.
Existing arrangements will remain in place for those who have not yet received both doses of vaccine.
For those who are coming to the island from the UK, they will need to provide documentation from their GP or other forms of confirmation such as the NHS App. The Manx Gov has told Gef plans are being put into action to ensure Manx residents will also have the required documentation in time for the change to take effect.
Chief Minister Howard Quayle said: ‘We remain firmly committed to restoring unrestricted travel within the British Isles and welcoming visitors to our Island. I know how important this is to residents and our economy. But we have always been clear that any decision will need to be based on data, not dates.
‘The exit framework, approved by Tynwald, clearly sets out a number of considerations we must take into account before lifting our remaining border restrictions. These include progress with the vaccination programmes in the UK, Ireland and the Crown dependencies, as well as infection levels and – crucially – the emergence of any variants of the virus that give cause for concern. The Manx public will undoubtedly be familiar with the growing number of COVID-19 cases in the UK, particularly of the delta variant. Now the predominant strain, the delta variant is causing an uplift in case numbers and hot spots emerging, notably in the North West of England.
‘Whilst we must learn to live in a world with COVID – where we focus on levels of serious illness and hospital capacity rather than raw case numbers – we must tread carefully and not risk all we have gained, particularly as we complete our vaccination programme. The timing of further changes to our border restrictions must take account of changes in circumstance. A short delay to removing our remaining border restrictions will enable us to learn more about the delta variant and, crucially, to deliver more second doses of vaccine.
‘Subject to Tynwald approval, island residents who are fully vaccinated will however see an improvement with the ability to travel unrestricted. They will also see an improvement in the way in which contact tracing identifies, tests and isolates anyone who is a close contact of a positive case. Where someone is fully vaccinated two weeks previously, they will not need to be tested or isolate. This change would have a significant impact on the number of people indirectly isolating during any outbreak and again is another reason why we are asking everyone who can, to come forward for vaccination.’