Gary Burgess: Why Jersey's Freedom Day is far from certain

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So-called 'Freedom Day' this Thursday (15 July), which would see the last of Jersey's coronavirus restrictions completely lifted, is looking uncertain. Credit: ITV Channel TV

Just last week the Chief Minister and co were talking in definitive terms about this Thursday - Jersey's so-called Freedom Day.

It would be the day the last of the Covid restrictions would be lifted, so bars could serve drinks to standing customers, nightclubs could open, big events could take place, and there'd be no more limit on how many people we have in our homes and gardens.

Since then, a huge rise in Covid cases in the island - though as the top team including the island's top medic keep telling us, those positive cases are not converting into serious illness or hospitalisations like they did in the December wave.

Indeed I've been number crunching.

At the worst of it in December, and the peak was 21 December, there were 924 active cases, 66 people in hospital, and 8 people had died in that wave.

As of last Friday there were 984 cases, but only 3 people in hospital and no reported deaths.Whether you call that link broken or weakened, you can see the effect of the vaccination programme.

That's not to say nobody vaccinated is getting ill, but at a time when 90% of current active cases are not fully vaccinated, you can see they are making a transformational difference.


And there's always a but.

The system is creaking. Test and trace simply isn't coping with demand. The hospital is cancelling non urgent operations due to staff shortages, including because of Covid. Businesses around the island are having the same problem.

There are two trains of thought:

  • Plough on, remove restrictions, and let events take their course

  • Hold your horses, even make masks mandatory in busy indoor spaces, and give yourself some breathing space to allow the entire government machine to "stabilise"

This word "stabilise" is, apparently, the new preferred word inside government as code for "oh my goodness, we're drowning in cases and can't cope".

Freedom Day this Thursday?

Senior ministers are meeting today (12 July) to discuss their plans. They'll meet the rest of the ministers tomorrow (13 July) to get their approval or disapproval. Then the rest of us should get to know the plan.

As it stands, sources tell me the mood is getting gloomier inside the corridors of power, and Freedom Day is "not likely".

We shall all know soon.