The Falkland Islands Government has announced that they plan to end all quarantine requirements for those entering the islands on the 4th May, as well as the majority of other measures aimed to prevent the transmission of Covid-19 within the community.
Previously, those entering the islands were required to remain in quarantine for at least five days, with another five days being advised if found to be a level-one contact with someone who had tested positive for Covid. Travellers into the Falklands also needed to have proof of a negative test upon entry, but both of these measures have now been removed.
The government, which had until now aimed to prevent any cases from reaching the islands, is now pushing for a approach that will make the virus endemic within the community, with the belief that the Falklands is now sufficiently protected from the impact due to high levels of vaccination.
For this reason, a vaccination programme for children aged 5-11 has begun, with over 200 children already vaccinated. The government is also looking to allow larger cruise ships passengers to enter and visit the islands in order to revitalise the tourism industry.
The Chief Medical Officer, Rebecca 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.”
Member of the Legislative Assembly, Mark Pollard, said: “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 Executive Council (ExCo) paper detailing the changes is available on the government’s website at https://www.falklands.gov.fk/assembly/executive-council/papers/category/532-2022-2.