New coronavirus strain ‘likely to be in Jersey’

A new strain of coronavirus causing concern in the UK is “likely” to be in Jersey, senior politicians have said.

Confirming all non-essential shops were “anticipated” to stay closed until 11 January 2021, Chief Minister John Le Fondre said work was under way to see if the new strain was in the island.

The Covid-19 mutation is thought to be behind sharp rises in infections across England .

A new batch of 3,000 vaccine doses had also arrived in the island, he added.

‘Limited gatherings’

At a press conference, Senator Le Fondre said: “We are already taking steps to establish if that new strain is present in our community, and it is likely that it is present in our island. 

“But, whether it is or not, we must continue acting proactively to limit the spread of Covid-19.”

Confirming non-essential shops would shut from 18:00 GMT on Christmas Eve, Senator Le Fondre also confirmed a new “rule of 10”, with the number of people permitted to meet outside being cut from 20 to 10.

Active cases peaked at 1,019 on Monday and there had been three Covid-related deaths since Friday, Health Minister Richard Renouf said.

Restrictions have been tightened in recent weeks, including a hospitality circuit-breaker over Christmas, and the latest business closures were part of that breaker, Senator Le Fondre said.

He also encouraged “limited gatherings” during “a different, more cautious Christmas”, saying an extended circuit-break was “necessary” to ensure vaccinations could continue as part of work for the island “to return to normality in 2021”. 

Anyone coming into Jersey via the UK was to be treated as coming from a red zone , and would have to self-isolate and be tested accordingly, Minister Renouf said.

Meanwhile, more than 2,000 people had been vaccinated and a further 3,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine had arrived, the press conference heard.