Covid-19: 'Relief' for Guernsey businesses allowed to reopen

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image captionMore Guernsey businesses have begun to partially reopen after the bailiwick went into lockdown on 23 January

Some non-essential Guernsey businesses have partially reopened as the island lifts some lockdown restrictions.

A local construction firm described the ability to work again as a "definite relief" for tradesmen and businesses.

Paul Mason, from RG Falla, added the move was "a step in the right direction" for the industry, even if not all businesses can reopen.

Takeaways and delivery services are among those allowed to open in stage one of the island's exit strategy.

The bailiwick entered lockdown on 23 January after four coronavirus cases of unknown source were identified. Alderney and Sark entered stage one of the exit from lockdown last week.

Mr Mason, who is also chairman of the Guernsey Building Trades Employers Association, said it was a "definite relief" to be able to partially return to work and they were planning on reopening immediately.

He said: "Any productivity and anything that we can get back on sites is a benefit."

Mr Mason explained the industry had been assuring clients they were "doing all we can" to get back on site as fast as possible, but they were being clear they could not "work outside the rules".

image copyrightMark Ferbrache
image captionCarpenter Mark Ferbrache said as he works alone he could have returned to work during lockdown but he could not get the materials he needed

Carpenter Mark Ferbrache said he was looking forward to getting back to work, but it was dependent on the ability to get materials from local suppliers.

As a sole trader who works alone, he attempted to reopen last week when the States loosened restrictions on people working alone, but was unable to get what he needed as no delivery was available.

He said: "That's been the issue for sole traders at the moment, we've been allowed to operate but then we can't get the gear on site."

Mr Ferbrache explained the "trouble is most of my stuff is all inside", meaning he was only able to work if his clients are not at home.

"There's a lady who has got a huge house and lives on her own, I could be working upstairs she could be downstairs. But that's not within the rules."

However, he emphasised he understood the "cautious approach" taken by the States and luckily he has an outdoor decking job he can return to in the short term.

The new rules allow businesses to operate with up to five people in indoor spaces and 10 in outdoor work sites.

Two metre social distancing must be observed at all times and sufficient hand washing facilities provided.

Businesses can also operate a collection service as long as they do not have any contact with customers, the States confirmed on Friday.

Other changes permitted are the formation of household bubbles, socially distanced outdoor gatherings of up to five people and the amount of time permitted outdoors for exercise has doubled to four hours.

There will be no change to the island's schools, which are open for the children of essential workers and vulnerable students, the States said.

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