Gary Burgess: The riskiest week of 2021 in Jersey

Hospitality businesses are able to reopen provided they follow strict guidelines. Credit: ITV Channel TV

It’s a strange time when Jersey’s most senior medic issues a warning that something politicians are about to do is expected to make people sick.

But that’s where we are.

Today, much of the island’s hospitality trade reopened, with Dr Ivan Muscat saying: “It is sensible to assume we will see some rise in case numbers in the coming week due to the upward pressure of people mixing in hospitality.”

Whenever the minutes of the committee of experts which advise ministers are published, I suspect they’ll make for interesting reading.

Did STAC actually recommend opening cafes, restaurants and (the hastily added) hotels in one fell swoop?

And did they think the decision, which allows 10 strangers to sit around the same table with zero social distancing, no mask, and a pile of food and alcohol for up to two and a half hours was the smartest idea?

In the meantime, we are where we are.

Reassuringly, opening schools, non-essential retail, and close contact businesses like hair salons has not led to an uptick in cases. Indeed, today marks the third consecutive day with zero new cases in the island.

It’s also a time when officials are really pushing hard on their guidance for people not to mix indoors. Last week we were told about that outbreak of nine cases after a group of people went house to house seeing each other for socials. One of the nine was meant to be isolating, so that’s not the end of that story as there is a legal sanction in play.

It’s a timely reminder to us all.

I surveyed more than a thousand people on Twitter at the weekend to ask if they knew of people in the island mixing indoors with other households without a good cause.

A shocking 57% of people said they did.

We’re in danger of falling at the final hurdle.

We’ve come so far from the horrors of December and early January where 36 people died with Covid, bringing the total to 68 since the start of the pandemic, and where active cases at any one time reached 1,000.

Today we’re down to 35 cases and two people in hospital.

Today also marks the start of a clear new risk with the reopening of hospitality.

If ever there was a time for us all to follow every rule, and abide by the letter and spirit of all the guidance, it is right now.

We CAN do this!