Half-term travel warning: Restrictions could change

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Revised risk ratings came into force this weekend, the first day of the half-term holiday, but deputy medical officer of health Dr Ivan Muscat said other changes were possible before pupils returned to school on 2 November.

‘Travel does bring risks, which is why we have stringent testing requirements,’ he said. ‘The whole idea is to keep Jersey safe, so people need to accept that if they do go away, they may be affected on their return.’

Dr Muscat said the current picture regarding infection rates in the UK and Europe meant that the next set of changes would be likely – in most cases – to bring higher risk ratings.

This weekend’s changes have left just four regions of England ranked as green, the lowest rating, with 88 classed as amber and 224 regions considered red.

Other countries have also seen pronounced moves from amber to red. All but three regions on the French mainland are now red, with Italy and Ireland seeing similar shifts.

Isolation requirements vary: passengers coming from green regions are only obliged to isolate until they receive a negative result from the test they undertake on arrival, while amber arrivals must isolate for a minimum of five days and have two negative test results. Those entering the Island from red zones must isolate for 14 days.

In spite of a rise in known active cases in Jersey in recent weeks, Dr Muscat said there should be sufficient capacity within the Island’s healthcare system to cope with another wave of infections.

Exact projections for the number of cases during the coming months are difficult to forecast, he added, because of the amount of testing being carried out and the fact that the ‘R’ rate tracking the spread of the virus was complicated by the need to differentiate between arriving passengers and those who hadn’t travelled.

Dr Muscat said that extensive testing and contact tracing, augmented by the Island’s new Covid Alert app, remained important weapons in combatting the virus.

‘We still want to find individual cases and deal with them appropriately by testing and isolation, rather than wider lockdown measures that would affect the whole community,’ he said.

By Friday afternoon, the Covid Alert app had been downloaded by 34,100 people.

Tony Moretta, chief executive of Digital Jersey, said there had already been a number of successful contact alerts that showed the app was achieving the aim of complementing the work done by contact-tracing officials.

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