The Isle of Man has been out of lockdown for nearly a fortnight – here’s how they did it – Manchester Evening News

While social distancing looks to be the new normal in the UK, the Isle of Man has been living lockdown-free for almost two weeks.

The island, located in the middle of the Irish Sea, is home to more than 80,000 people and has seen just 24 coronavirus-related deaths since the pandemic began.

A total of 336 confirmed cases of coronavirus have been recorded on the island.

On June 15, the Isle of Man became the first place in the British Isles to scrap social distancing, leaving residents free to enjoy pubs, restaurants, shops and gyms in practically the same way they did three months ago.

Businesses no longer have to encourage employees to work from home, and limits on the number of people allowed in shops have been lifted.

Chief Minister Howard Quayle announced the decision to scrap the two metre rule following 22 days with no new Covid-19 cases on the island.

“We know this is a bold step, we believe it is the right one at the right time,” he said at the time.

“We want to get out of these restrictions as soon as we can. We want to get our society and economy going.”

The first case of the virus on the island was confirmed on March 19, on the day the UK passed 3,000 confirmed cases.

One week later, advice came from the Manx government that residents should stay at home expect for a limited number of circumstances.

The last new case on the Isle of Man was announced on May 20 allowing the fourth and final stage of lockdown easing to begin

The first death on the island was announced on April 1, days after the lockdown was imposed.

Following an outbreak at the Abbotswood Care Home, one of the island’s largest, the Department of Health took over its running ‘for the safety of residents’.

Residents at the home make up the majority of the island’s deaths, with 17 people dying at the home itself and a further three dying in hospital.

Remaining residents were moved out of the home amid the outbreak and directors released a statement saying they were ‘utterly devastated by what has happened’.

An independent investigation into events at the home has been launched and the results are expected to be made public.

On April 23, the first easing of lockdown measures was announced, allowing people to be outside their houses for as long as they liked, but only with their own household.

The next day, builders, tradespeople and landscape gardeners were told they could go back to work, subject to social distancing.

Garden centres followed on May 11 and some non-essential business the next week.

Since May 20, the island has not recorded any further new cases.

With health officials now announcing ‘local elimination’ of the virus but the risk from abroad remaining, the borders will be closed for the foreseeable future, and returning residents will still be required to quarantine for 14 days.

Mr Quayle said locking down the borders was an ‘integral part’ of defending against the disease.

But the Manx government has said it does expect to see new cases emerge in the future and it is asking residents to ‘stay responsible’.

In a similar way to the UK government’s ‘stay alert’ message, the slogan urges people to stay home if they feel unwell, keep up with stringent hygiene practices and follow the instructions of health officials when it comes to contact tracing.

But it does mean the island has reached the lowest level before the pandemic is over on its five-step response scale.

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While the two metre rule will remain in place in certain health and care settings, including care homes, the lifting of the restriction means that all children can return to school and large gatherings have been given the go ahead.

The advice to residents says: “It is no longer a legal requirement to social distance, however it will be for you to decide where you are comfortable being and who you are comfortable being with.

“If you do want to keep people at an arm’s length for the time being then that is for you to decide.”

So while rules around social distancing, face masks and public gatherings continue to dominate lockdown discussions in the UK, it appears the island located just 100km from its coast is in a very different position, suggesting the ‘new normal’ for Manx residents may not be so new after all.


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