Isle of Man shuts pubs and schools in 21-day 'circuit-breaker' lockdown after spike in Covid cases linked to ferry

THE Isle of Man has today shut pubs and schools once more as it enters a 21-day 'circuit-breaker' lockdown following a spike in Covid cases.

The island has been enjoying relative freedom from restrictions since the beginning of February when all lockdown measures were scrapped.

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Schools and businesses reopened on the island on February 1, with locals no longer asked to stay at home or wear masks.

The latest lockdown however, which came into force at midnight last night, will require people to stay at home aside from exceptional reasons such as for food, exercise or medical appointments.

Schools are shut to most pupils and non-essential businesses are required to close.

All hospitality and leisure venues have also shut their doors to customers although takeaway and delivery services are still allowed.

There have been 60 new cases of coronavirus on the Isle of Man in the last fortnight – linked to a ferry worker who tested positive on February 18.

Government officials believed the outbreak was under control but five unexplained cases have been identified since Friday.

The Isle of Man Government tweeted: "There is transmission in our community that we cannot see and that we do not understand.

"We can now see this is not an isolated couple of cases but more widespread."

Chief Minister Howard Qualye MHK yesterday announced the new lockdown yesterday, stressing that the measures will be under constant review.

Mr Qualye said: "From Wednesday we will be reactivating the financial support measures including MERA, Salary Support and the Business Support Scheme. The Treasury Minister will provide a statement in the House of Keys later today.

"I know this will be far from easy this time for so many.

"I know there is a great cost in locking down our Island and your lives. But we believe the alternative is now even more costly.

"I know we have asked you so much in the past and are I know asking you so much again.

"And I am truly sorry that this is happening. But our collective judgement throughout yesterday and last night, as more information became clearer, was that this, is what we need to do."

The Isle of Man's previous lockdown ended on January 31 – 19 days after the last coronavirus case was detected before this latest outbreak. 

Matt Hancock warned last month that individual regions in England could face similar lightning lockdowns once national restrictions are lifted.

The Health Secretary said the "goal" is to ease restrictions nationally – but ministers would not rule out local action amid regional disparities.

The Health Secretary said: "We proposed to come out of the national lockdown all together. These regional disparities are smaller than we saw in the autumn.

"We don't rule out taking local action in an individual area as we see a spike. But the goal is for us all to come out together." 

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