Thursday 25 March 2021
SPEECH OF CHIEF MINISTER AND CHAIR OF THE CIVIL CONTINGENCIES AUTHORITY, ON THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF THE BAILIWICK ENTERING ITS FIRST COVID-19 'LOCKDOWN'
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to speak again today. Yesterday I stood up to speak about the work of the Policy & Resources Committee. It was an important statement because that is important work, for our community and its future. But what I am about to speak about now has weighed more heavily on my mind: it is one year to the day since the Bailiwick entered its first lockdown, in its extraordinary effort to counter the threat posed by a new virus and a new disease, COVID-19. But what words can one find to articulate truly the significance of that day, the sense of strangeness and bewilderment that this could really be happening; the enormity and seriousness of the decision for those tasked with making it; the fear and uncertainty of what it would mean; the many, many questions. How long would it last? What damage would be done to jobs, businesses and our economy? Would a lockdown actually do what we hoped it would - save lives?
Since that day, so much has happened. We have entered and exited lockdown not once but twice. We are right now again enjoying the revitalising sense that comes with being fresh out of lockdown. We don't have to stay at home. We don't have to limit the family and friends we see. We don't have to explain to our children why schools are closed. We don't have to wonder how long it will be before we next get some real, fully paid work. We don't have to worry that one of our loved ones may be the next person to test positive for COVID. A year ago, we might not have considered that we would feel so fortunate for these simple things. Things we once all took for granted.
We can and should celebrate our success as a community in responding to this threat, a threat like no other in our lifetimes, a threat like we never imagined in peace-time. How absolutely tremendous, how awe-inspiring, how deeply and forever moving has been the way the people of this Bailiwick have come together. It is historic and should never be forgotten and that is not an overstatement.
But for all the celebrations, we must also mourn. During our first lockdown there were 13 COVID-related deaths. 13 mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, grandparents, brothers, sisters. 13 Islanders. And in this second lockdown, one more. One more life tragically lost.
Many more were ill, some seriously, and some of those continue to feel the effects of this illness.
And then there are so many who have paid a price in some other way, because of this pandemic. Those who've lost their job, those cut off from family and friends because of the unprecedented restrictions we've had to keep in place at our borders for a year.
Think on it. A year, with hardly any travel into or out of our Islands. A year of watching the whole world struggle to understand and contain and combat this virus. Think how unreal it would all seem just one year ago.
For a lot of this year, compared to many other places, we've felt safe - special even - in our little Bailiwick bubble. But preserving that bubble, and more recently, re-establishing that bubble has taken so much hard work.
So as we mark this strange anniversary, which gives us cause to both celebrate and lament, let us also be grateful. We give our thanks to Islanders for their cooperation, their commitment to protecting each other, and protecting their Islands. We give our thanks to those who've worked on the frontlines in both lockdowns, from the supermarkets to the care homes, from the testing tents to the ports. We give our thanks that while lives have been lost here in our Islands, so so many have been saved. Saved by the good work of all of us in this Bailiwick.