Behind the Borders: The day the Isle of Man reopened for residents

Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Fleet Credit: Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

It’s been 115 days since the Isle of Man raised the drawbridge.

A full 16 and a half weeks where the majority of people have been unable to enter the Island.

But today marks the first step in loosening the border restrictions.

All Manx residents are now allowed to travel to and from the Isle of Man for any reason, providing they self-isolate for 14 days on their return.

An integral part of the Isle of Man Government’s track and trace programme, keeping the virus contained in one area while effectively being able to contact trace the individual's movements.

Part of this stage also requires residents to fill out a Manx Entry Permit and a landing card, detailing where they will be self-isolating as a legal requirement to enter.

Police will then be coordinating random checks on people with a maximum penalty of three months in custody and up to a £10,000 fine, if lockdown rules are broken.

A ‘phased reopening’

On Friday 3rd July, the government published a five-stage plan on how the borders will begin to reopen.

Up until now, only those with special exemptions or key worker status have been allowed to enter.

  • Stage 5 - Borders closed to all those without key worker exemption.

  • Stage 4 - Manx residents can travel, with 14-day isolation on return.

  • Stage 3 - Non-residents with friends and family on-Island can enter, with 14-day isolation on arrival.

  • Stage 2 - Visitors with friends and family on-Island can enter, without needing to isolate.

  • Stage 1 - All travel to and from the Island resumes.

Leaving the Isle of Man has always been allowed to happen as normal, but entering the Island is regulated.

A poll on our social media suggests the majority of people on the Island would prefer that the borders remain at stage 5.

With 63% wishing to keep the borders fully closed and 37% believing dropping to stage 4 is the right decision.

Additionally, many are questioning the decision to not regulate those living in the same household as someone self-isolating, allowing them to move freely around the Island.

Instead they are asked to remain socially distanced from those who are isolating themselves, keeping all shared areas cleaned to the highest standards.

Also, individuals who may need to travel back to the UK and beyond within the two week isolation are allowed to do so providing they travel straight to the Ronaldsway Airport or Douglas Sea Terminal.

After 60 days of no new cases, this is arguably the biggest risk the government here has taken and one that has split opinion.

But certainly a decision that will be a welcome relief to those eager to visit family and friends overseas, after spending what for many will be the longest time on the Island.