'Stick with us' - Guernsey's Chief Minister issues lockdown update to islanders

Guernsey's Chief Minister has urged islanders to 'stick with' the government as it clarifies what lockdown will mean for the island.

On Tuesday 24 March, Deputy Gavin St Pier announced the initial two-week lockdown in a bid to minimise community spreading of the coronavirus. He described it as 'the most far reaching deprivation of personal liberties since the Second World War.'

In an open letter to the people of Guernsey, Deputy St Pier apologised for any lack of clarity while the overall policy was implemented - urging islanders to 'stick with' the government while they revise and clarify existing guidance.

The letter goes on to say that the States would be issuing detailed revisions to guidance which had already been released, referring to the circumstances under which people are allowed to leave their homes.

The Chief Minister also suggested that a payroll co-sharing scheme, which will see the States subsidise local businesses' salaries by 80% of the minimum wage, would be able to begin paying out by the end of the week, saying the States 'recognise that this is urgent'.

The streets of St Peter Port sat empty on day one of Guernsey's lockdown. Credit: Guernsey Police

He also outlined how the island had stepped up medical preparations to deal with the pandemic. He described how the Princess Elizabeth Hospital's day patient unit had been converted into an additional intensive care unit, while 100 staff in health roles have now been trained so that they can be called on to help if required.

On-island testing equipment is now being trialed in the pathology labs, with staff being trained on how to use it.

Deputy St Pier called for everyone to continue following government instruction - but warned against the dangers of stigma and 'social media mobs'.