United Kingdom

Isle of Man goes into 21-day 'circuit-breaker' lockdown due to rise in Covid cases

The Isle of Man will enter a new 21-day 'circuit break' lockdown from today after a sharp rise in coronavirus cases.

The island had been enjoying relative freedom from restrictions but the new lockdown will require people to stay at home aside from specific exceptional reasons such as for food, exercise or medical appointments.

There have been 60 new cases of coronavirus in the last fortnight which have been linked to a ferry worker who tested positive on February 18.

The Isle of Man has gone into a 21-day circuit breaker lockdown after sharp rise in Covid cases 

Government officials believed the outbreak was under control but five unexplained cases have been identified since Friday.

The government there tweeted: 'There is transmission in our community that we cannot see and that we do not understand.

'We can now see this is not an isolated couple of cases but more widespread.'

Chief Minister Howard Qualye MHK made the official announcement by a formal address given yesterday and said the measures will be reviewed constantly and kept in place only as long as necessary.

All leisure and hospitality venues will be closed but takeaway and delivery services will be permitted.

All lifestyle business such as hairdressers will close and non-essential retail businesses will also be forced to shut although they will be allowed to operate click and collect and delivery services.

Mr Qualye said: 'From Wednesday we will be reactivating the financial support measures including MERA, Salary Support and the Business Support Scheme. The Treasury Minister will provide a statement in the House of Keys later today.

'I know this will be far from easy this time for so many.

'I know there is a great cost in locking down our Island and your lives. But we believe the alternative is now even more costly.

'I know we have asked you so much in the past and are I know asking you so much again.

'And I am truly sorry that this is happening.

'But our collective judgement throughout yesterday and last night, as more information became clearer, was that this, is what we need to do.

'I have always said that we will do what is right for the Island. And this is what we are doing. The right thing.'

The lockdown was lifted on January 31 - 19 days after the last coronavirus case was detected before this latest outbreak. 

Residents on the Isle of Man gathered in their hundreds in November for annual light switch on

The island was the only place in the British Isles to be able to celebrate a normal Christmas

Schools and businesses reopened and the island's 50 bars and pubs welcomed revellers over Christmas when they were allowed to welcome back customers.

Social distancing measures and mask-wearing rules were also scrapped, but strict border controls - banning all but residents and key workers from entering - remained in place.

The island, which is a crown dependency and has its own government, was plunged into a similar 25-day circuit breaker lockdown after a Covid outbreak at the turn of the new year.

But pubs, bars and restaurants were finally allowed to reopen at the end of January after officials announced the outbreak had been brought under control.

A vaccine roll-out on the island has begun with Health Minister David Ashford saying everyone on the island will be offered a coronavirus jab by the end of September.

Those aged 50 and over would receive the jabs by the end of May.

With its strict border controls, the Isle of Man remained restriction free for almost seven months last year.

It closed its borders in March, before allowing residents and essential workers back into the country from July.

With the latest lockdown, Mr Quayle says he hopes the virus will be stamped out for good, adding: 'This is tough. I know it will be hard on families and on our businesses. 

'It will be hard on our health and wellbeing and it will be hard on our children.

'I do believe though that if we get this right one more time – if we stamp out once and for all the transmission that has been sitting under the surface for some time now - and in parallel if we protect our vaccination programme – this could hopefully be the last time.

'If all is well, as we progress over the next 21 days, I sincerely hope that we will not have to tighten up further. It has worked before. We know what to do.'

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