Good morning TCI. It’s the Governor. Having had two night-time curfews, TCI is waking up to its first full day of lockdown.
For clarity, what we mean by this is that each night, from 8pm to 5am, the rules that you have followed over the last two nights apply. Be at home. Only those essential front line services - involved in direct work during the hours of curfew - or those involved in preparing our supermarkets - may be out on the roads.
It’s working extremely well so let’s keep it like that. We are all at our safest - from infection - when we are like this. It also means the Police are in a far better position to look after our overall physical safety.
In terms of context - for what I’m about to say - the dashboard will change today. We still don’t have any confirmed deaths but we now have four, rather than two, confirmed cases. We learned that yesterday evening.
Those involved know, and are properly quarantined. The key point - and it’s why I ask you to not only follow the rules and laws, but apply the highest standards of self discipline - is that both individuals were part of what we call “contact tracing’ that followed our previous two cases.
You know how this virus spreads, it spreads from person to person. The more you follow the laws, but also the spirit in which the laws were drafted, the safer you will be and the safer your immediate family will be. And in these Islands if families can stay safe, society can stay safe.
This morning we will all need to adjust to a different set of circumstances during the daytime. What are they?
The default position is that you should be in your home or in your yard. You should be self quarantined with just your family or those you share your household with. This will vary greatly, from those who live alone and may well feel very isolated, to those who have large households where living in close proximity will be a different type of experience.
Why this sacrifice, because first of all it protects us all from all others. The less time we spend in each others company, the less chance of exposure.
Set against this, if one of us becomes ill it will be straightforward to isolate that person and for our health professionals to go on to understand and monitor the small number of people the new patient has come into contact with. We are attempting to stop the spread and if we can’t stop all the spread, then isolate it.
The ideal of course is that we all hunker down in our homes for three weeks - never emerging. Of course we know you can’t live your life totally isolated in this way. Food and water are required for life. Exercise is required as much for mental as physical well-being. So the laws allow for this.
What laws find difficult, in the best of times, is legislating for every eventuality. Each one of you have unique circumstances. On this we have to rely on your personal judgment. We have to rely on your common sense. I’ll say something on that in a moment, but first specific advice.
SUPERMARKETS, BANKS, GAS AND WATER,
You are allowed to go to the supermarket, bank, gas station or water provider. Think carefully, this is not an opportunity for multiple trips. Keep coming back to what we need to achieve - a dramatic reduction of movement and interaction on the islands.
This is not a family outing. One person in the car, one person per family at the supermarket or outlet. If you really can’t achieve this - we are all different - you will need a really good reason to provide a Police Officer who will use their judgment.
The supermarkets are by far the place where the largest congregation of people will now be (and congratulations to them on how strict they are on numbers inside the store and distancing) so help them and help others by seriously reducing the footfall.
If you are stopped by a Police Officer on the way to the supermarket or vendor except to have your details taken including your address. You will need to be on the road between your home and the supermarket, bank, gas station or water vendor or vice versa. Retain the receipt from the supermarket, water vendor or gas station and keep it at home as proof you did indeed visit the outlet ion that day at around that time.
The police have to use their judgement and will. Don’t expect to be able to say you are going to get ‘Gas’ when you have anything other than close to an empty tank. I say this for the 1% who we know will not follow any guidelines and will just be permanently selfish looking to stretch the rules to suit themselves.
Please note there are special provisions in the regulations from 6am to 8am for senior, disabled persons, and essential workers to use the stores. Please do take advantage of that.
We need you to use tremendous common sense and self-judgement here. What we mean by this is you are outside and being active.
First, no driving to your place of recreation. Second, you can do this with those you are in the same household with or in a solitary way. This includes dog walking; do it from your home please.
Third, the public beaches are closed. We know many would have used them in a very responsible way. But we have seen elsewhere the exact opposite. The beaches used in ways that really damaged all that was attempting to be achieved.
I’ve seen chat group messaging where people have been trying to work out whether a course of action is allowed within the law. Just the very fact they are discussing it, the very fact they feel they need reassurance from others, suggests it fails one of the five principles I will describe in a moment.
Churches are closed tomorrow. We of course didn’t do this lightly. In a Christian country this is a significant step. We also understand that some churches are better suited than others with regard to their ability to control numbers and social distancing.
But in terms of the overall ecumenical community - Christians standing together in face of adversity - we believe it best that all churches stand together as one. Every parishioner and every church leader this Sunday will be united as one, in terms of their denial, on behalf of the health of the nation.
I’d say only that church isn’t a building, church is a community and a congregation, and at present community - particularly when bringing together very different age groups from multiple different family units - is the one thing we must prevent.
It also shows great role-modelling leadership, by our spiritual leaders, that they themselves are taking this most difficult course of action that protects the community.
I spoke with Bishop Bryant Cox of the Christian Council this morning thanking him - and all church leaders - for the Churches leadership in this area.
Once we have dramatically reduced the risk - over the first few days of this week - myself and the Premier will work with the Church to ensure they can provide a virtual spiritual service to the people. Faith is important at this time and for many here. While we contain this threat, treat this Sunday, please, as one of denial, one of selflessness and also a moment to protect yourself and your family, perhaps pray for your family, in the comfort of your own home.
As I said, laws are blunt - common sense and judgement our best protection. So, if it helps, this is the tests I apply. If you are thinking through whether or not you can take a particular course of action that appears to be allowed by the law first ask yourself this:
- Am I making this decision for my own personal advantage, or am I making this decision because I believe it’s in the good of all and for the good of those people I know I’m going to come into contact with over the next three weeks. In other words is this decision selfish or selfless.
- Second: in making this decision am I making the tough choice, or am I taking the easy option? If you find yourself achieving what you need to achieve through difficulty and inconvenience because that contributes to the greater good, rather than taking the easy choice, which works for you but puts others slightly more at risk, you are probably in the wrong place.
- Third: if you have some advantage bestowed on you because you are an essential worker - or you are for instance wealthy - ask yourself, “if I was on the stage in front of the public and had to justify what I did, would the public easily agree, or would they pity a lack of integrity”.
- Fourth: do you see yourself as a role model in your home, workplace, neighbourhood, church or wider society. If you are a young person do you aspire to be a leader? Ask are the behaviours you are exhibiting those of a role-model. Role-modelling doesn’t mean people will copy your exact behaviour but they will translate what you are doing into their own lives and deny themselves opportunities over the next three weeks for the good of all if they see you denying yourself.
- Finally: think through the consequences. Do you really, - I mean really - need to do this. If you were to find out that your action infected you, and through you those you live with, would you look back and think that - at the time - you made all the right judgment calls.
If everyone were to apply to those five main principles : Selflessness, making tough rather than easy choices, not taking advantage of particular advantages bestowed; demonstrating role-modelling behaviours and thinking through the second order consequences of their decisions, there would be little need for laws and regulations.
In terms of the announcement yesterday around registering essential workers, we are now working through over 500 emails from employers. Our aim, as I said yesterday, is to have answers with you, and the database active, by first light Monday. In the interim the Police, and you, should use your judgement
We’ve pulled all of the requests together yesterday to ensure we could see themes and in seeing themes ensure there is consistency. We want to avoid arbitrary decisions.
We will start going through these one by one today - I’ll make final decisions on those that appear difficult. To get expectations in the right place we intend to start off hard and review as the weeks progress. Much easier to make sensible further decisions once movement is at a minimum than the other way round.
With that in mind we will not (not) be agreeing to the opening of any takeaways or those providing food delivery services until at least Thursday morning. We will consider agreeing to relax this, then, but first I want to really understand how much movement we have going on across the Islands because this just adds another level of potential contagion. I hope you can see the reasoning.
Until then the advice remains the same. Imagine this weekend we have a Category 5 Hurricane barrelling towards us. Hunker down. Avoid absolutely all unnecessary travel. Three weeks will feel like a long time as we go through it, but will have passed quickly when we look back. And we can change our future if we get this right. Which we will.
Enjoy your Saturday, and stay safe TCI.