Guernsey has suffered at the hands of COVID-19 similar to our global counterparts. However, Guernsey’s motivated and diligent community have pulled together throughout this pandemic to date to ensure the island remains a safe and prosperous island bailiwick in which to live and work.
The response of The States of Guernsey and our Guernsey public has been organised, decisive and cooperative and continues to be so. The #GuernseyTogether movement was born during the pandemic and was embraced by all in our community. Guernsey being an island, was able to restrict travel and impose strict self-isolation regulations and testing on arrival to the island. The test, track and trace programme left no stone unturned and this was fundamental in enabling the island to eliminate COVID from the population in May 2020, allowing our local lockdown restrictions and our beautiful island to be ‘business as usual‘ from June last year. We had no masks and no social distancing and really were in what became referred to locally as our ‘Bailiwick Bubble’, allowing staycations on island and with our Bailiwick islands of Herm, Sark and Alderney. Our island economy generously committed to spending their money locally which in turn helped our retail, construction and hospitality sectors to stem the bleeding and recover much of their lost earnings. Getting a table at one of Guernsey’s highly acclaimed seafood restaurants was harder than ever in summer 2020.
The business community and Guernsey’s economy bounced back during summer 2020 and many businesses saw a real recovery of earnings which had been depleted during the lockdown period. The finance sector successfully implemented disaster recovery procedures from the beginning and it was largely business as usual whilst working from home throughout the pandemic. As we were able to operate without restrictions within our island bubble, schools were able to be fully open, all extra-curricular activities went ahead and this allowed working parents to efficiently work without the additional burden of home schooling and childcare. Christmas came and went and parties and socialising continued as usual.
Unfortunately Guernsey couldn’t keep COVID out permanently and we suffered a second wave of infections, the new highly transmissible Kent variant, from an unknown source and as a result a swiftly implemented island-wide lockdown on 23rd January 2021. As a community we knew what to do having been here before and everyone pulled together to make sure we could recover from this lockdown swiftly and stronger than ever. As I write this article we have again successfully managed to all but eliminate the virus from the island and are on track to fully reopen on Monday 22nd March.
The vaccination programme in Guernsey began before Christmas 2020 and thanks to our strong relationship with the UK, we are able to keep pace with the vaccine rollout there and in fact, due to the reduced logistical challenge of the vaccine rollout owing to our small size, we are one of the front runners globally in vaccinated proportion of the population. The uptake of vaccine here has been phenomenal, all of us recognising and taking responsibility for the small part each of us can play in protecting not only ourselves but one another.
It is this cooperative and community minded spirit that allows Guernsey and its business community to continue to punch above its weight in the global economy. Our government is nimble and proactive and overwhelmingly supported by our community, a true benefit of our small size and profitable economy. Guernsey will come out of this challenge as it does with so many other challenges it faces, stronger, wiser and more resilient than ever before.