Chief Minister Howard Quayle praises island’s ‘resilient, determined and courageous’ population
The island’s chief minister Howard Quayle said on Tuesday that the island would start to ease its lockdown at 6am on Saturday so some businesses could reopen and workers return to work.
Praising the island’s “resilient, determined and courageous” population, he also announced that they would be able to enjoy greater recreational freedom.
Under the rules, gardeners, painters and decorators, tradespeople and many construction workers will be allowed to perform jobs that can be done alone or with strict social distancing. The ban on non-essential journeys has also been lifted, although people must continue to follow rules on social distancing.
Social distancing rules relaxed
“This is not about relaxing our measures,” Mr Quayle, who has been self-isolating after he tested positive for Covid-19 with mild symptoms earlier this month, said. “We are adjusting them to meet a medium-term, sustainable, fairer and healthier balance.”
The chief minister added on Thursday that the difference between the situation on the island and in the United Kingdom was “pretty stark”, but he said sports venues and gyms would remain closed.
He said: “Yes you can kick a football in the park. Yes you can walk along the promenade or through a glen. Yes you can do your yoga on the beach. But with people from your household. We are not yet in a position where we can allow you to do this with your extended family or your friends.
“I know not being able to meet with friends and family is tough. And I hope that we will be able to make this change before too long. But we are not ready to make that change yet.”
‘Please don’t relax the lockdown’
A total of 16 people out of a population of more than 83,000 people on the island have died from coronavirus. A man and a woman were jailed this week after attending a gathering at a house in Douglas. In a separate incident, two men admitted socialising on a beach at Port Erin.
But Dr Martin Rankin, who works for the Manx Emergency Doctors Service, has called for the restrictions to remain in place until two weeks after there were no new cases.
“Please do not relax the lockdown until we have the disease eradicated,” he said in a video posted online on Thursday. “Only then can we open shops and enjoy the island’s summer.”