Coronavirus – Island remains clear of the virus…Air bridge with Guernsey confirmed

Since the last update (4pm Wednesday 24 June) there have been no further confirmed positive tests for coronavirus. This means the Isle of Man has no active cases and the total number of confirmed cases remains 336.

There have been 6,196 concluded tests, 13 people are awaiting results and no one is awaiting a test.

At today’s media briefing the Chief Minister, Howard Quayle MHK, outlined a five stage strategy towards the re-opening of the Island’s borders. We are currently at level five – the most severe. He is expected to announce a possible move to Stage 4 within the next week or so.

Meanwhile The governments of the Isle of Man and Guernsey have agreed to form an air bridge allowing travel between the jurisdictions without the need for self-isolating on arrival.  This air bridge is expected to be the first established by any governments in the British Isles, as well as being the first air bridge between two jurisdictions within the British Isles.

It is anticipated that commercial flights will begin next month and run for an initial six-week period, with Guernsey’s airline Aurigny due to announce details of flight schedules and ticket sales next week.

The decision to form an air bridge follows talks last week between the Chief Ministers of the Isle of Man and Guernsey, as well as both governments’ Public Health teams.  Both jurisdictions have very similar measures in place for border controls from other locations, and robust testing and contact tracing capabilities, and neither have seen a new case of COVID-19 for several weeks.  Aurigny and the airports in the Isle of Man and Guernsey have also worked together to ensure the air bridge can be opened quickly.

Howard Quayle MHK, Chief Minister of the Isle of Man told B365:‘Announcing our first air bridge, and unrestricted travel to the Islands of Guernsey, is a major milestone and reflects how well both communities have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Because we’ve pulled together as an Island, and because the people of Guernsey have done the same, we both are now weeks without any new cases of the virus and are able to open up travel between our jurisdictions with confidence.  Guernsey and the other Islands within its Bailiwick, Alderney, Sark and Herm are a great destination for Manx holidaymakers to get away to this summer.  And it also allows both jurisdictions the opportunity see air bridges in practice and look at how we might expand them to other places in a similar situation to ourselves.’

Gavin St Pier, Chief Minister of Guernsey added: ‘I’m delighted we’re able to confirm that an air bridge with the Isle of Man will go ahead and I’m certain our community will welcome it enormously.  As we continue to maintain controls for arrivals from other destinations where community seeding of the virus which causes COVID-19 raises concerns, this offers a chance to get away this summer without the need to self-isolate.  Having been many times over the years, I know that the Isle of Man is a great destination, with beautiful scenery, welcoming people and much like our Bailiwick, a proud and distinct cultural identity.  I hope to be able to make the most of the air bridge and pay a visit to the Isle of Man myself this summer.  And I know our community will be ready to give Manx visitors a very warm welcome to our Islands.

Aurigny have played an absolutely vital part in making this possible.  Being able to count on our national airline, who play an important role as an economic enabler, means we’ve been able move fast.  But even more than that, the airline’s staff have really shown the Guernsey Together spirit that has been instrumental in the Bailiwick’s success in the face of the pandemic and will continue to be as we begin our recovery.’