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Montevideo, April 2nd 2023 - 02:26 UTC



Falkland Islands reviews Covid-19 measures; changes to be enacted from 4 May

Saturday, March 26th 2022 - 09:55 UTC
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Falkland Islands reviews Covid-19 measures; changes to be enacted from 4 May Falkland Islands reviews Covid-19 measures; changes to be enacted from 4 May

As previously communicated, the Falkland Islands Government has recently reviewed all available options in terms of making changes to Covid-19 measures in a careful and measured way. This week Executive Council met to evaluate the proposed options, which included the latest public health guidance and legal advice. As a result, it has been agreed that from 4 May 2022, the existing Infectious Diseases Control (Coronavirus: International Travel, Operator Liability, and Quarantine) Regulations 2022 will be revoked, providing that specific conditions can be met.

What is changing?

From 4 May 2022, there will no longer be a legal requirement to:

• Enter a period of quarantine upon arrival in the Falkland Islands
• Provide evidence of a negative Covid-19 test as a condition of entry to the Falkland Islands – however this may still be a requirement as a condition of carriage for people entering the Islands either by air or sea
• Travel from Mount Pleasant Airport (MPA) in designated transport, provided travellers continue to meet the necessary security requirements to enter or exit Mount Pleasant Complex.

Additionally, people will no longer be advised to isolate if they are identified as a Level 1 Contact, but instead will be encouraged to test themselves daily – meaning that if someone in your household is isolating because they were positive for Covid-19, then other members of that household need not isolate, but may leave and enter their property freely, but are advised to both test daily and take sensible precautions to safeguard others.

What is not changing?

Until 4 May 2022, all current Covid-19 measures will remain in place. This means that the test to release schemes are still in operation, dependent on people’s vaccination status, and quarantine restrictions must be adhered to. The reason why changes are not being enacted immediately is because specific conditions must be met first, namely:

• A further series of vaccination sessions will be carried out first to ensure that our community is as protected as it can be – details on these mop up/booster clinics will be provided in due course, prior to 4 May 2022
• The hospital will revise its resilience plans (as it has done throughout the past two years) to ensure that it has the necessary resources in place to support the local population
• Ensuring that there is sufficient Lateral Flow Device kits and necessary medication available for the public
• That all organisations – both private and public sector – have sufficient business continuity plans in place to operate in an environment where Covid-19 infections will occur.

Is this the right time to be considering or making these changes?

First and foremost, we will never be better protected as a community than we are now. We have lived through two years of the pandemic and, due to both the careful and considerate behaviour by our population, as well as the huge success of our vaccination programme, we have been able to protect our people from serious illness and even death. We want to continue this balanced approach, which is led by science and informed through careful consideration of all aspects which could impact on the Falkland Islands community. People will have seen that both the World Health Organization and the UK Health Security Agency have been advising countries to move to transition from a pandemic situation, to an endemic situation, which basically means a new phase for public health, where the disease is circulating widely, however there are a declining number of serious cases and vastly increased immunity.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr Beccy Edwards, said: “This is a big step, but is absolutely the correct one in terms of our community from a public health perspective. We need to move towards an endemic state as soon as it is safe to do so and, I believe that by the beginning of May, we will be in the best position that we are ever likely to be in. That’s not to say however, that feeling apprehensive is unwarranted, far from it, and it is only natural for people to have concerns. But our health and social services will be ready to support the community as we go into this next phase and just as we have continued to do throughout the past two years. We will inevitably start to see Covid-19 appear in our community, and we may see it spread fast, but I want to reassure everyone that we are in no way in the same position as we were in March 2020. We have an almost entirely vaccinated population of eligible people, including our colleagues at MPC, and of our most clinically vulnerable people in the community we only have a few people who will receive additional support and guidance to stay safe. Most importantly the science has developed radically over the past two years, as has our ability to manage this situation, working closely and with the support of our community.”

Tom Bale, Director of Health and Social Services, added: “We appreciate that this initial statement will not answer everyone’s questions, but we wanted to let the community know, as early as possible, of the changes that are ahead. Between now and 4 May, we will ensure that there are opportunities for members of the community to raise any concerns and ask questions, and we are also working on other ways to share information with the public on behalf of health and social services, and further details will be announced shortly. Additionally, the government will continue issuing detailed announcements in the weeks ahead and we encourage people to keep an eye out for these.”

What does this mean for the Falkland Islands?

These changes will mean that the Falkland Islands will be working towards a return to the free movement of people in terms of travel, and also enabling the community to have greater flexibility over their own personal choices. It will likely enable us to have a full tourism season next summer, in which we see larger cruise ships arrive in the Islands and international air links resume in due course. Perhaps, most importantly, it will allow us all to take the first step toward relative normality, which is something that the world has not seen since March 2020.

MLA Mark Pollard confirmed: “I cannot put into words how immensely proud I am of our community and what we have achieved since the onset of the pandemic. People outside of the Islands may think that we have had it easy, given how well we have managed to hold the virus at bay, but this has been as a direct result of the cooperation and goodwill of our people. Furthermore, we have continued to receive excellent advice and guidance from our health professionals, who have not only followed the science, but have done so through the lens of what is achievable for our population. While I know that some people may be nervous at the prospect of having the virus in circulation, and it may result in some limited and short-term disruption, it is only legally permissible to restrict people’s liberty when it is proportionate to the overall public health risk. We are a nation who believes firmly in our constitutional rights and we are now in a position to remove these restrictions on people’s liberty. Also, and this is incredibly important, in the unlikely event that we need to enact emergency measures to protect people in the future, this is something that we would not hesitate to consider implementing, if appropriate.”

The ExCo paper, which provides further detail on these measures, is available to read online by visiting:

Tags: COVID-19, FIG.

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