Behind the Borders: The day the Isle of Man entered its second lockdown

The Isle of Man spent over six months with no on-island restrictions. Credit: ITV Granada Reports

It’s the day the Isle of Man didn't want to see, on any level.

Since June last year, Manx residents have enjoyed a life of no on-island restrictions - no social distancing, no limit on gatherings and no compulsory mask wearing.

But after six months, the Manx bubble has burst following an individual testing positive for coronavirus after spending fourteen days in isolation with no symptoms.

A new cluster of cases has been formed on the Island as a result, now with 16 active cases of COVID-19.

This follows months of the government following what they continually called the 'gold standard' approach of legally enforcing people to self-isolate people for two weeks.

During the press conference the Chief Minister, Howard Quayle MHK, and the Manx Director of Public Health, Dr Henrietta Ewart explained why the measures weren't enough to prevent the outbreak.

The conference was led with a general ‘stay at home’ message, with all non-essential businesses told to close including pubs, gyms and restaurants.

All schools have also closed, with hub schools open for vulnerable children and those of key workers.

It is the equivalent of the UK’s national lockdown with added restrictions on borders, only allowing returning residents and key workers into the Island.

So at 00:01am on Thursday 7th January, Manx lifestyles went from one extreme to the other overnight.

Day one of 21

The first day of lockdown saw an already vast change of lifestyle for the Manx public with many staying at home and those out largely wearing masks and keeping their distance.

Two things the island has lived without for the majority of last year, but something that has been largely abided by.

However, the Isle of Man Constabulary has already reported two arrests have been made in relation to suspected COVID breaches.

An important message has also been reiterated by the Island’s retailers, pleading with people not to buy in large quantities and that supply chains remain stable.

This follows complete emptying of many shelves across the Island, following the initial announcement of an island-wide lockdown the day before.

But the government has confirmed that the Ben-my-Chree ferry will continue to travel back and forth between the UK daily, bringing in essential food and supplies to the island as it did during the first lockdown.

There was also some initial confusion on the wearing of face coverings and whether they are mandatory, given the advice has changed since the initial Manx lockdown in March.

Wearing a face mask is now strongly recommended to all islanders when out of the house and is now compulsory when travelling on public transport.

Retailers and other employers are advised to make their own decisions about whether face coverings should be worn or not.

The Chief Minister said the lockdown will remain in place for an initial 21 day period and will be reviewed towards the end of the three weeks.

Vaccination rollout remains 'on schedule'

Despite the new lockdown measures, Health Minister David Ashford MHK, confirmed the vaccine rollout continued to be 'on schedule' with 1141 individuals receiving their first jab this week.

The Isle of Man receives the vaccine on a per-capita basis through the NHS supply chain and this is in line with the delivery schedule of the UK.

Minister Ashford also confirmed that the island is on course to have vaccinated everyone in their 50s and above by the end of May, with the rest of the population vaccinated by the end of September.

Many have questioned why vaccinations are only being administered three days a week.

Minister Ashford reiterated that 'its a medical procedure, not a production line' and that medical protocols and procedures have to be adhered to.

Also stating that these may have to change based on the experience of the rollout and that stock levels need to remain high to administer the second dose of the vaccine.

So as the Isle of Man enters its second lockdown, the government continue to aim to achieve 'local elimination' of the virus once again.

An achievable target right now, and one that is dependent on the Manx public once again coming together as an island community to rebuild the Manx bubble that was fought hard to keep.