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Address To The Bailiwick By His Excellency The Lieutenant-Governor Of Guernsey

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Tuesday 31 March 2020

It is with great sadness I learnt late yesterday evening of the first death in Guernsey of a patient suffering from the COVID-19 infection.  I know that the whole Bailiwick joins me in expressing our heartfelt sympathies to their family and friends. Please know that the thoughts of all of us are with you today.  

This is a sobering moment for our Bailiwick. Secretly, I suspect, some might still have hoped that it would not come and that, somehow, the worst of this global pandemic might pass our Islands by. But in our hearts most of us knew this would not be the case. Sadly that is confirmed today and, whilst we must always hope, the reality is that this death is unlikely to be the last. The next few weeks are going to be difficult for all of us.

In Her message of a few weeks ago, The Queen emphasised that the United Kingdom's history had 'been forged by people and communities coming together to work as one, concentrating our combined efforts with a focus on the common goal'. It was, I am sure, Her Majesty's intention that this sentiment should apply equally to Her Crown Dependencies, and specifically to us here in the Channel Islands.  The history of our Bailiwick in adversity bears proud testament to this.

And through such 'combined efforts' we are much better placed to manage the consequences of this outbreak than we were, even a matter of a few weeks ago. I pay particular tribute to our government, our officials, our health professionals and all our emergency services who have done, and continue to do all that they humanly can to ensure we have made the best possible preparations for the difficult days ahead.

I pay equal tribute to all of you in the community who have responded with discipline and stoicism to the unprecedented but essential restrictions that have been placed on our everyday lives and, in particular, on our economic, social, and spiritual activities.  

These efforts have bought us valuable time and will make a real difference in inhibiting the progress of the disease. I am confident that, in the final reckoning, they will be found to have significantly reduced the risk, especially to the most vulnerable in our community. These restrictions have, and will continue to save lives!

However, as today's news shows, we must do more. Our immediate destiny lies in the continued ability of all of us to respond collectively and as individuals. It remains vital that we continue to put our responsibilities to others before personal comfort and convenience. The next few months are going to test our 'Island Spirit' to the limit.

But through this difficult time I do urge each and every one of you to keep faith.

Keep faith in our leadership, our health professionals, our emergency services, those who are keeping our food shops open and our broader public and voluntary services.  Trust and support them; they will not fail us.

Keep faith in the global scientific effort to develop and distribute a vaccine and other treatments. Huge resources are being focused on this, and it will happen.

But most of all, we need to keep faith in ourselves and each other.  We need to keep faith in our resilience, our sense that we are facing this together, and our consideration and mutual support for each other. We may have to distance ourselves physically, but we must not distance ourselves emotionally and in terms of our respect and concern for one another.  We must remain one Bailiwick in our fight to defeat this infection.

Finally, though the sense of this first loss is raw today, and we are all justifiably concerned for the future, I leave you with some words of Victor Hugo..........'Even the darkest night will end....... And the sun will rise'.

Please stay safe, continue to look after yourselves.......and each other.  Thank you.

Vice Admiral Sir Ian Corder KBE, CB

Lieutenant-Governor of Guernsey

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