Isle of Man says jail-time for Covid breakers and 'patriotic' residents helped end lockdown restrictions

THE Chief Minister of the Isle of Man has said the territory managed to overcome the Covid crisis thanks to tough rules and the help of "patriotic" residents.

The Isle of Man has officially lifted their coronavirus lockdown – meaning social distancing and masks are now a thing of the past.

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Howard Quayle, the Isle's Chief Minister told Good Morning Britain: "We went in pretty hard and fast in March of last year.

"We closed our borders initially, then we brought in tough restrictions so people have to quarantine when they come on the Isle of Man if they travelled off the island for fourteen days.

"Now we do testing on day 1, 6 and 15 before we allow them to go back into the community."

He explained that the last six months of 2020 were completely Covid-free on the island.

But there were a few cases recorded in January – leading to a circuit breaker.

Mr Quayle noted the Isle of Man also imposed a rule that saw those breaking Covid restrictions face "up to 4 weeks in prison."

He continued: "We had virtually 99 percent buy-in to everything we did.

"We had regular press briefings to let the people know what was happening and they could see, within a couple of months, we were back to normal.

"They saw the benefits of following the rules but obviously there's always a small percentage of people who do not follow the rules.

"We did have pretty tough actions if you didn't follow the rules."

When asked his opinion on the way mainland Britain has handled virus control, Mr Quayle said that it would be like comparing "apples and pears."

With a population of 85,000 and being an isolated island in the Irish Sea, he said the Isle of Man could get rid of the virus "much quicker."

From yesterday, bars, pubs, shops and restaurants all opened their doors for business on the island.

All schools and businesses have reopened with locals no longer asked to stay at home or wear masks.

Locals have described feeling "grateful" and "upbeat" as the island opened up after a circuit-breaker lockdown – but are also feeling cut-off from the outside world.

ISLE OF FREEDOM

Resident Aileen Broad, aged 50, said: "People are pretty upbeat because there is no Covid, which is fantastic, but it also brings with it other problems.

"Our borders are even tighter now, so even though people say they are open for Manx residents to come and go, when you come back you either have to self-isolate for 14 days with three negative tests, or 21 days if you chose not to have Covid tests.

"The reality of this is people who cannot work from home cannot go away, which in itself causes emotional and mental health problems for some who cannot see their families.

"Their families are unable to come to the Isle of Man unless for compassionate reasons which have to be approved by Government, which again is very strict and virtually limited to end of life and funerals.

"So whilst some people are overjoyed, others are feeling very cut off and referring to the island as Alcatraz."

The Isle of Man is currently operating with Border Level 4 restrictions.

This means residents on the island and key workers are able to freely travel.

There is a mandatory 21 day self-isolation period when returning to the island.

Those travelling must isolate alone and need to complete a Landing Form for contact tracing.

Meanwhile, every school in England remains shut along with restaurants and pubs while people need to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

The Isle of Man was able to limit the spread of the virus after closing its borders during the first lockdown in March last year.

The island is not part of the UK and is a self-governing jurisdiction able to make its own rules.

It has now begun its vaccine rollout and Health Minister David Ashford said everyone on the island will be offered a coronavirus jab by the end of September.


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