Chief Minister Howard Quayle today announced that, from Friday, the Isle of Man will be moving forward in its battle with the coronavirus pandemic.
Details were revealed on how the Isle of Man Government intends to enable some businesses and workers to resume activity, and how residents will be able to enjoy greater freedom for recreation activities.
Praising the Island’s response to the lockdown restrictions introduced in mid-March, the Chief Minister emphasised that change will be introduced gradually and take its lead from the latest clinical advice.
‘You rose to the challenge. The vast majority of our Island has shown the very best of Manx. You have been resilient, determined and courageous.
‘By making the choices that you did, you have got us to where we are. You have helped us drive down the growth rate of the virus on our Island.
‘Because of the seriousness with which you have taken the situation, we are able to share with you the changes we will be making as we move to the next stage.’
The new approach will move the emphasis from Stay Home to Stay Safe, where more activity will be permitted while observing social distancing.
The measures will come into effect at 6am on Friday 24 April and will allow those who perform jobs which can be done alone or with strict social distancing in place, and are therefore regarded as low risk, to resume activity.
This will include gardeners, painters and decorators, tradespeople and many in the construction industry. Supporting services such as waste and recycling points will also be able to operate provided they can do so safely while respecting social distancing guidelines.
The measure is being brought forward following consultation between the Department for Enterprise and industry representatives, including the Construction Forum. Full details of the sectors and trades covered by this change will be published online at gov.im/coronavirus tomorrow (Wednesday 22 April).
Alongside this, the current ban on non-essential journeys will be lifted for all residents, allowing more opportunities for recreation, as long as social distancing rules are respected.
The Chief Minister said:
‘The drastic measures we were forced to take were the right thing to do in the short-term. But in the medium and long-term, closing down society can cause real risks to our wellbeing.
‘Whether this is from having to close down other healthcare pathways as we had to do. Or whether this is the pressure on our mental health that isolation or financial pressures can bring. Or whether this is the increase in domestic abuse reports that we have seen. We cannot ignore these risks.’
‘From Friday, builders, construction workers, tradesmen and gardeners may return to work providing that they do so safely and within social distancing guidelines.
‘[Also] from Friday, we will no longer limit your time out of your home. There will no longer be a requirement that journeys are for ‘essential reasons’ only.
‘We will be widening the recreation that you can undertake to include activities that can be done in a safe and socially distanced way.
‘This is not about relaxing our measures – we are adjusting them to meet a medium-term, sustainable, fairer and healthier balance.’
While the introduction of Stay Safe marks the first revision of the lockdown restrictions introduced in mid-March, its success will depend entirely on the number of new covid-19 infections and the resultant pressure this may place on the Island’s health and social care system.
On-Island testing began yesterday and the Chief Minister stressed the importance of that development in being able to carefully monitor infection rates, adding:
‘We will review the situation at the end of the first week of May. If we remain within the capacity of our health and social care sector, then we may – and I repeat may – be able to take further steps towards normality, in a manageable, measured and clinically-driven way.
‘We need you to continue to play your part. These changes have been possible because you have taken the measures seriously. You self-isolated when you had symptoms. You respected social distancing. You washed your hands. You need to keep doing this.’
For further information on what the new measures mean and the continued emphasis on social distancing, visit gov.im/coronavirus.