Tynwald saw a group of protestors gather ahead of its final sitting before the election this morning who called for a change in the island’s border policy which they call ‘discriminatory.’
The protest follows a petition presented on Tynwald Day by Victoria Hodgson that looked for a change in the rules, which campaigners say discriminate unfairly against vaccinated people and create a ‘two-tier society.’
One of the lead protestors and lawyer, Ian Kermode, said: ‘I regard the Manx border policy as utterly despicable, those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, children, pregnant women and other categories of people are being penalised at a social and financial cost through no fault of their own. The MHKs who voted for this policy should hang their heads in shame.’
He added: ‘These are characteristics that are protected under the Equalities Act.’
Currently, the island is at what the gov calls ‘border level 1.5’ which allows for double vaccinated (for two weeks) travellers who have not been outside of the British Isles or Channel Islands in the last 10 days to visit the Isle of Man without testing or isolating. Manx residents and other eligible travellers who do not fall into that category must follow one of three other ‘pathways’ ranging from isolating until a negative test is received, seven day isolation with testing or 21 day isolation with no testing. The testing pathways come at a cost of £30 per traveller over the age of 17, unless you are in one of the exempted groups.
Ms Hodgson said at the protest: ‘We’re not here to say what the rules should or shouldn’t be, just that whatever they are they should be fair, equal and inclusive which isn’t currently the case.’
One protester, Robbie Black, said that it doesn’t make sense that he, as a resident, would have to pay for a test whilst others can come over without being tested at all.
The current policy came in on June 28 and is part of the gov’s six (or nine depending on how you count them) levels of border restrictions that go from Level 5B which only permits controlled entry for key workers and residents to Level 0 which will see no restrictions at all.
Mr Kermode said: ‘This is something that ordinary people feel passionate about because it has led to the first concrete division in Manx society. All the other regulations and rules applied equally to everyone but there are particular groups that are especially disadvantaged.
He added: ‘We’re here today because we want an inclusive and diverse society which respects all views, not just vaccinated people respecting themselves but also respecting people who can’t be vaccinated or choose not to.’
More information on the gov’s border policies can be found on their website at https://covid19.gov.im/general-information/travel-advice/borders-framework/