New prisoners on the Isle of Man are being confined to their cells all day for two weeks during the coronavirus pandemic, the government has confirmed.
Everyone starting a custodial sentence or being held on remand is currently housed on the prison’s isolation wing for 14 days on arrival.
Prison Governor Bob McColm said the measure was designed to stop the spread of the virus into the main jail.
Advocate Ian Kermode described the lockdown conditions as “oppressive”.
The measures have been in force at Isle of Man Prison for just over one month.
Under the prison lockdown, those on the isolation wing are entitled to two showers a week and are provided with activity packs and exercises they can do in their cells.
They are also given access to a mobile phone to contact family and legal representatives, and each cell has a television.
A total of seven people were being held on the wing on Thursday, the government confirmed.
Mr McColm said some of those being held in the main prison block were over the age of 70 and there were “a number with underlying health issues”.
He said: “If Covid-19 reaches the main prison it will spread quickly as the environment has people living in close proximity to each other.
“These are challenging times for everyone and keeping our environment safe remains a priority.”
Following the 14-day isolation period, inmates would be moved elsewhere in the prison and would be given daily access to showers, telephones and exercise, he added.
Ian Kermode, who acts as a duty advocate on the island, has raised concerns over the conditions.
The “disgracefully oppressive regime” represented “potentially serious infringements” of prisoners’ legal rights, he said.
“No emergency can justify trampling over hard-won absolute human rights.”