Behind the Borders: A Year in the Manx Pandemic

A look back over the last year in the Isle of Man Covid-19 pandemic.

It's been 12 months to the day since the Isle of Man raised its drawbridge, cutting off all immediate physical contact with the outside world.

The fateful words of the Island's Chief Minister, kickstarting a year in Manx lockdown.

A full 365 days where the vast majority of non-residents have been unable to make the journey across the Irish Sea into the Manx bubble.

And that's exactly how islanders have been living over the last year - in their own world - separated from the decisions and consequences of the various governments surrounding its shores.

Instead, the Island has been led by its own government in conjunction with the Manx Public Health teams.

Rules have therefore been different - borders have been controlled, self-isolation has been enforced and breaking Covid rules has led to prison sentences.

Like all governments, at times there has been criticism, often there has been praise, but ultimately there has been an overwhelming feeling of unity from the Manx public - coming together to tackle the biggest crisis since the Second World War.


  • March 16th 2020: All arrivals asked to self-isolate for 14 days and TT 2020 cancelled.

  • March 19th 2020: First confirmed case identified on the Island.

  • March 22nd 2020: Pubs, restaurants and clubs close.

  • March 23rd 2020: Borders close to non-residents and schools close.

  • March 26th 2020: Borders close to all arrivals.

  • March 31st 2020: First Covid-19 death recorded.

  • June 15th 2020: All coronavirus restrictions lifted for first time.

  • July 22nd 2020: 'Air bridge' opens up to Guernsey.

  • October 23rd 2020: 'Air bridge' suspended following case in Guernsey.

  • November 30th 2020: TT 2021 cancelled.

  • January 4th 2021: First dose of vaccine given.

  • January 7th 2021: 'Circuit breaker' lockdown begins following 'community spread'.

  • February 1st 2021: 'Circuit breaker' lockdown ends.

  • March 3rd 2021: Second 'circuit breaker' lockdown begins after 'unexplained cases'.

Despite a year like no other, residents of the Isle of Man have spent the majority of 2020 living a largely Covid-free lifestyle with very few cases and all on-Island restrictions removed.

It was not until 2021, with the arrival of the new variants, where things changed.

With Manx residents still allowed to enter the island with enforced self-isolation, the risk of another outbreak was always possible.

Couple that with a more transmissible variant of Covid-19, and another lockdown was almost inevitable.

But this would only last for four weeks, as the Manx public once again locked their lives down for a short sharp 'circuit breaker'.

Remarkably, what followed was a frenzy of global attention from the world's media, desperate to get a glimpse of normality.

Something which unfortunately turned out to be short-lived.

Following confusion around isolation rules of ferry workers, the virus has once again been circulating in the community causing the record numbers of cases since the pandemic began.

The beginning of the third Manx lockdown where cases sharply increased, before peaking at 881 total active cases. Credit: Isle of Man Government


There's no doubt that closing and maintaining the borders has been the Isle of Man's main defences against the Covid-19 pandemic.

While people have not been able to visit, it has kept the numbers at a manageable level.

But at a cost - loved ones have been apart and the hospitality sector is scarred for the foreseeable.

And despite numbers sounding low, 26 members of this community have sadly lost their life to the virus - a feeling which is felt in every corner of the Isle.

But if there's one thing I've learned over the past year of living and reporting from behind the borders of the Isle of Man, it's the remarkable compliance, resilience and pride of the Manx public.

Something which will no doubt continue for as long as the pandemic goes on.

Leading to the timely reminder of the Manx motto: "Whichever way you throw us, we will stand".

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