Chief Minister Alfred Cannan has warned stronger measures to be brought in to fight new Covid-19 if this week’s rule changes don’t work.
Face coverings are now legally required on public transport and in health and care settings, while they are ‘expected’ in secondary schools, shops and other public ‘lifestyle’ businesses.
Because of the uncertainty over the threat posed by new strain, all household contacts of anyone suspected of having the Omicron variant will be required to isolate as a precaution until a case is confirmed one way or the other.
Mr Cannan told the House of Keys this morning: ‘We are not legislating more generally than in public transport and health and care settings and know that the vast majority of the public will apply common sense in these various settings and adjust their approach accordingly.’
He sounded an optimistic note that the measures will work but warned: ‘We are prepared to go further and harder with legally enforceable measures if they are needed.’
The Chief Minister was responding after Speaker Juan Watterson gave Jason Moorhouse permission to table an emergency question to ask for a statement.
It could be several weeks before scientists have clear answers about the threat posed by Omicron and how effective current vaccines are, Mr Cannan said. That’s why the gov has taken steps this week.
So far there have been no confirmed cases of the new strain in the island, but it was likely to arrive ‘sooner rather than later’, he added.
‘We have adopted the same 48-hour approach (as the UK), within which travellers who have been outside the Common Travel Area in the last 10 days will need to isolate and take a PCR test,’ he said.
In addition, all travellers over the age of 12 will have to take a lateral flow test within 12 hours and tell the gov the results.
The Chief Minister reiterated the mantra of ‘know before you go’ to encourage people to self-test with an LFT ahead of attending busy events.
‘Please do everything possible to reduce the level of cases and transmission and in doing so to help avoid the need for further legal interventions,’ he urged.
‘This means taking up the Covid vaccination and boosters when you are offered them.
‘It means taking a lateral flow test twice a week or before you are due to spend time in big crowds or social settings.
‘It means wearing a face covering to help protect those around you and it means following isolation advice when it is provided.’Also today the gov announced what it was doing to ramp up the vaccination programme, as reported here.