Covid-19 Coronavirus

Statement by Chief Minister on COVID-19 – 20 March 2020

Friday, 20 March 2020

I am grateful to the Health Minister for speaking to you this morning and taking you through the details of the Island’s first confirmed case. We have been reassured that the patient and their family are doing well.

I however need to inform you that we now have a second case confirmed. Once again, this is an Isle of Man resident who has recently returned to the Island from the United Kingdom. I cannot share any further details with you at this stage.

This is a difficult moment for the Isle of Man. For all of us. I know this is causing worry for everyone out there.

From the start, we have said that this would likely to be a fast moving process.

While we had no confirmed cases on the Island I wanted people to be able to prepare themselves and benefit from those last days of normality before what could be a long period that will be far from normal.

Most importantly, as the Minister said this morning, I wanted to give our healthcare professionals the space to ensure we were as ready as possible. I visited the COVID-111 centre and the mobile testing facility this morning. The volume of work people are dealing with there is immense. I would like to again offer my personal thanks to them for the job they are doing under difficult circumstances.

The situation has changed. I said that we would make the right decisions at the right time for the Island. Now that we have confirmed cases, we need to take the next step to suppress the spread of COVID-19 on our Island.

I chaired a meeting of the National Strategy Group this morning and we agreed the following additional measures

We have further strengthened our processes to record full details of all arrivals at sea and air ports. This information, alongside the new legal powers, will enable police to deal with anyone who does not respect our self-isolation rules.

We will maintain our rules on self-isolation. If you have symptoms, stay at home. If you arrive onto the Island, stay at home. For fourteen days. We know this can pose real challenges for people. We will keep this under review. The fact that we now have two confirmed cases emphasises how important it is that people follow the advice that we have already issued. This advice is reviewed and updated regularly. For the most up to date advice, please continue to refer to our website

We are strengthening our advice on social distancing. This is the measure that medically is believed to be the most effective. We are now advising people to avoid any places where crowds gather. This does include bars, clubs, restaurants and pubs.

We are closing the Villa Marina and Gaiety Theatre complex.

Many of the facilities at the National Sports Centre will now be closed. Some will remain open in a carefully managed way

We are calling on the organisers of all sporting events and the management of all gyms and health centres to immediately consider their positon.

We are calling on all people who can work from home to do so. And calling on all employers to do everything they can to enable this. We will be doing this increasingly across the public sector.

We have already stopped all non-essential visits to publicly run care homes and medical facilities. We are now extending this to include sheltered housing. We would advise facilities in the private sector to do the same. I know that many already are.

We are advising against all non-essential travel off Island. People who return will in any case need to self-isolate. We will review this in thirty days.

We will maintain the provision of public transport. Many essential staff rely on the bus network. It is critical that we maintain the ability for them to get to work. We have stepped up deep cleaning protocols on our buses.

With effect from 4pm today (Friday 20 March) all Learning Disability Day Services provided by Adult Social Care have been closed until further notice.

With effect from 9am on Monday 23 March all regular Learning Disability Respite Care provided at Hollydene Unit, Radcliffe Villas will be suspended. However, the unit will remain open for the purposes of emergency respite only.

I know that many of you are waiting for an update on schools. I can tell you that the Minister for Education has been meeting the teaching leadership group this morning. We are grateful for their positive engagement. As of today we have decided not to close schools immediately. This is under daily review. In a moment Dr Allinson can take you through the details of his discussions and our plans for next steps.

These steps will be tough on many. They will of course impact on all our lives. But I believe they are the right thing to do. I am convinced that we can get through this. We will only do so by working together. I am calling on everyone on the Island to play their part.

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