Chief Minister Alfred Cannan has confirmed that the island will be removing all remaining Covid restrictions from midnight on March 31, as planned.
The government said that the removal of restrictions ‘signals the government’s move to treat coronavirus as an endemic disease similar to other illnesses such as flu and norovirus’.
The changes mean that there will no longer be a legal requirement to isolate following a positive test, but guidance will be issued for people to follow.
All border restrictions will be lifted, including the need for isolation or testing for all travellers, and the requirement to complete a travel declaration, or landing card.
The Chief Minister said: ‘Today’s announcement confirms that from 12.01am on Friday, April 1, all remaining coronavirus restrictions will be lifted.
‘Two years on from the island’s first lockdown, this a significant step that the Isle of Man will take.
‘The Council of Ministers has reviewed advice from Public Health, and assessed vaccination uptake as well as the situation across the British Isles.
‘While we can never say never in terms of switching the restrictions back on, we feel that now is the time to move to managing Covid as we would any other communicable disease.
‘From next Friday, there will no longer be any restrictions around our borders, allowing travellers - regardless of their vaccination status - to travel to the Island without the need for testing or isolation.
‘Additionally, there will no longer be the requirement for those arriving to the island to complete a travel declaration. This is an encouraging step forward and will make the travel process for those coming to the island much simpler.’
He added: ‘We will also be removing all legal restrictions around mandatory isolation and instead provide a guidance-based approach for positive cases.
‘For this to be successful, and if we’re to maintain this position of moving forward, it is essential that the community continues to do the right thing – particularly around staying at home and avoiding people if unwell.
‘We’re asking islanders to continue making responsible decisions, including testing with lateral flow devices if symptomatic, staying at home if unwell and avoiding attending work or educational settings until 48 hours after symptoms have passed.
‘If you really need to leave the house, please wear a face covering and consider your surroundings.
‘The past two years have been challenging for our community and I want to thank everyone who has helped play their part in getting the island in the position we are in today.
‘It is important that our community understand that this move does not mark the end of the pandemic.
‘We all need to remain vigilant and recognise that this will only succeed if we follow the guidance available to keep each other, and protect our community and critical services.’
Dr Henrietta Ewart, director of Public Health said: ‘I understand given the number of cases we have currently that people may be concerned about taking this next step.
‘By moving to an endemic approach, we need to acknowledge that there will be times when case levels are high, but it is important to understand that due to the successful vaccination programme, these numbers are not translating to people becoming seriously ill.
‘As we move into this a more normal way of life without legal restrictions in place, we need individuals, as well as employers, to support the message of staying at home when feeling unwell.
‘We are still encouraging everyone to follow the important measures we’ve used throughout the pandemic to reduce spread of infection: hands, face, space and fresh air.
‘These simple measures help prevent the spread of other respiratory viruses and norovirus as well as COVID. We recommend that people continue to do an LFT test before visiting a vulnerable person and if advised to do so before visiting a health or care setting.
‘Vaccination remains our greatest protection against Covid so if you haven’t been fully vaccinated yet or are due a booster please consider this.’
From Friday, April 1, there is no longer a legal requirement to isolate at home following a positive result of Covid-19, however people will be advised to:
- stay at home and avoid contact with other people until 48 hours after your main symptoms have stopped
- report your positive result online for Public Health surveillance purposes only
- notify close contacts (having had face-to-face contact with, within two metres, for more than a total of 15 minutes over a 24 hour period, even if not consecutive)
- avoid sensitive locations, in particular educational and clinical settings
- work from home if you can and if well enough - speak with your employer - each business is different and will have its own unique policy
- seek medical advice if you are unwell as you would with other diseases. If you are clinically vulnerable, antiviral treatments may be available to you
- The move to an endemic approach means the daily Covid-19 dashboard and the vaccination dashboard will no longer be updated on a daily basis, summarised instead in the weekly Public Health Surveillance Report which will continue to be published.
Manx Care will still be taking precautions in healthcare venues.