Isle of Man chief minister Howard Quayle announcing the temporary suspension of the air bridge. (28832881)
Isle of Man chief minister Howard Quayle announcing the temporary suspension of the air bridge. (28832881)

The island’s chief minister, Howard Quayle said it was sad to cut abruptly the air bridge, which allowed islanders to travel freely between the two islands, but it was the right decision for the Isle of Man.

‘When the council of ministers met yesterday [22/10] there were still around 60 test results of close contacts [of the index case] outstanding,’ he said.

‘We determined that the results from these tests would be crucial in helping us understand fully the level of risk that the cases in Guernsey pose.’

The air bridge was established on the understanding that it could only operate while both islands remained free of any significant transmission of the virus and, upon hearing of the increase in cases in Guernsey, the Isle of Man resolved to protect its community and put its islanders first.

The chief ministers from both islands spoke only a few minutes before Guernsey’s 1pm press conference took place, when the Isle of Man confirmed the suspension.

There will be one final rotation between Guernsey and the Isle of Man today to get passengers home.

The airline is contacting all passengers who were due to travel home – to either island – next week and offer them seats on today’s flight.

There are currently about 120 Isle of Man residents in Guernsey. About 100 of them were planned to travel home today.

There are currently about 70 Guernsey residents in the Isle of Man. About 60 of them were due to travel home today.

Approximately 370 people from each island were due to travel during half-term week. Aurigny will contact them and arrange refunds.

While the Isle of Man has introduced 14 days of self-isolation, passengers arriving in Guernsey from there will not have to as the Isle of Man remains a category C territory.

Civil Contingencies Authority chairman Peter Ferbrache reassured Guernsey people in the Isle of Man.

‘They will come back under the same conditions as they would have come back if the air bridge had continued.’

The news comes just a day before a number of sold-out flights were scheduled.

Over the next week there were due to be 26 flights between the islands, of which 15 were sold out.

Mr Quayle has said, however, that it was a suspension and not a cancellation and they would continue to monitor the situation.

‘I know this will be bitterly disappointing for those of you who have visits to Guernsey booked and equally disappointing for the people of Guernsey who are planning to travel here,’ he said.

‘This was not an easy decision to make, a difficult and sad decision but one we feel that is right for our island.

‘We will keep the situation under review and I sincerely hope that we will be able to re-establish the air bridge as soon as possible.’

Aurigny is exploring the possibility of Guernsey-Isle of Man links for summer 2021.

Source: guernseypress.com