The CP (01-01-21) featured a letter from a lady who raised a number of concerns about mainlanders bringing coronavirus to the IW, and suggests that I could have stopped people arriving here.

Firstly, I appreciate this lady is concerned about the rise of Covid-19 on the Island. We all are, but I have a responsibility to act in a measured and responsible manner, rather than seeking to whip up anti-mainlander sentiment in a binary us vs them scenario.

The reality is that many people still have legitimate reasons to make return journeys to or from the Island. This includes key workers — including doctors — those transporting goods, students returning to the Island and those who may be accessing medical treatment on the mainland. All such journeys could have inadvertently resulted in Covid-19, especially the new strain, being spread.

What we can seek to do is keep journeys to a minimum. The ferry companies have significantly reduced sailings and say very few people have been using their services.

The police have had a presence at ferry ports – although they do not have the resources to police the ferries per se. And as you point out in footnote, I do not have the authority to tell the police how to act – and quite rightly so.

In December I had many conversations/contacts with police, ferry firms and the hospitality sector to make sure that the rules were understood and policed. In December, police and the hospitality venues worked well together to enforce the tier regulations in a sensible and responsible manner.

The reality is that the sharp rise in Covid cases has been due to the virulent new strain, which was only discovered after the tier system was introduced. As we know, the Island swiftly accelerated from Tier 1, via Tier 3, to Tier 4 – faster than any other part of the country. The government did not react slowly.

The specific claim that second homers have brought this new strain of the virus to the Island has no basis in fact. I recommend anyone interested to examine the main Covid data website:

If you increase the size of the map (click on it four times or scroll in) to show individual Island post code areas, and use the time bar above the map, you can trace the virus’ spread on the Island over the autumn and winter.

A visual check of Covid rates in the three communities which have the largest number of second homes (Seaview, Bembridge and Yarmouth) show average or — most of the time — below average Covid rates compared to other parts of the Island. The reality is that second home locations have generally had lower Covid rates than the rest of the Island.

The Island has thankfully avoided gaining a reputation of being hostile to visitors, unlike other parts of the UK whose ‘pitchfork’ anger has been reported on in the national media. We should not go down the same route. We should not start turning on each other. I will have no part in scapegoating others.

We now have a national lockdown, which has not escaped any part of the country – even the Isles of Scilly (which until recently had remained in Tier 1).

These measures are dreadful, but sadly necessary. I will support them.

The good news is that a million people in the UK have received their first vaccine jab. Every 250 people vaccinated is a life saved. Vaccination centres are up and running on the Island.

Rather than seeking to pit Islanders against other Islanders or mainlanders, let’s recognise that the country as a whole is now facing a challenging couple of months.

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