Schools open. Pubs open. Welcome to Guernsey

How do you fancy a haircut, today? What about meeting a friend for a drink in the pub, later? Maybe we could gather for a meal in our favourite restaurant, tonight?

They’re all things which, right now, seem a distant memory in the United Kingdom, but they’re all happening right now in the Channel Island of Guernsey.

Oh, and the children are back to school. That’s all year groups of all schools.

Children work at separate desks in the classroom. Credit: ITV Channel

The small island, just off the coast of France, is home to around 65,000 people. It’s part of the British Isles, though not part of the United Kingdom.

And, while much of the world’s attention has been on New Zealand when it comes to coronavirus success stories, Guernsey has not had a known case of Covid-19 for six weeks.

Indeed, its Director of Public Health, Dr Nicola Brink, began setting up a contact tracing team in February, many weeks before the first case in the island emerged in March.

Dr Nicola Brink has been heralded for spearheading Guernsey's swift response to the pandemic. Credit: ITV Channel

It also closed its borders before the end of March and required all essential arrivals to self-quarantine for 14-days.

That remains the case today.

While disconnecting from the world so soon feels drastic, it means the on-island test and trace system could get to work fast, in fact it operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

And, now, most of the island’s economy is back open, and even the physical distancing rules are expected to be relaxed in the coming weeks.

The community now enjoying their freedoms has been praised for engaging with the authorities at the time of crisis. Credit: ITV Channel

They’re not expecting no new cases at any point, but they now have the infrastructure in place to fire-fight an isolated flare up fast.

They’ve achieved all this with a big team led by three figures who’ve achieved local hero status in a short period of time.

Alongside Dr Brink is the Chief Minister – effectively the island’s Prime Minister – Gavin St Pier, and the Health Minister Heidi Soulsby.

There are now people naming their pets after them, a local band has written a song about them, and a bar is now selling cocktails inspired by each of their personalities!

As Dr Brink is at pains to point out, the story for Guernsey is far from over.

Lorraine Kelly sought out Dr Nicola Brink's expertise on her ITV morning show. Credit: ITV

There could be new cases, there could be another outbreak, there could be more problems ahead when the usual seasonal flu happens in the coming months.

But by learning about the virus in January, setting up a test and tracing plan in February, and closing the borders and enforcing the quarantine in March, they’ve been able to reopen life in the island to, yes you guessed it, the ‘new normal’.

So next time you’re looking for an example of how to manage a pandemic, and how to bring a population with you on a sometimes-difficult journey, alongside New Zealand, take a look at what’s happening a little closer to home in Guernsey.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know