31 March 2020
St Helena Government has announced enhanced Social Distancing Measures for the Island which came into effect from 12 noon today, Tuesday 31 March 2020.
We understand that a number of people within the community have been confused by the advice given and have asked for further clarification, which we have provided below:
- We are advising all vulnerable people (elderly, pregnant women, children, people with underlying health concerns) to stay at home
All vulnerable people i.e. the elderly, pregnant women, children and people with underlying health concerns are advised to stay at home for the next 14 days and work from home if applicable or possible.
People falling into this category would be those over the age of 70 years along with people currently receiving chemotherapy or who have heart disease, uncontrolled diabetes especially with additional chronic conditions, uncontrolled asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
We are advising these people to stay at home but they are still able to go to the shop, collect their Benefits or take some exercise for example. Children can accompany their families to the shop as well as during any outdoor excursion.
Everyone staying at home should adhere to enhanced surfaces cleaning and practice good hand hygiene for both adults and children.
- Schools will remain closed for a further week until after Easter weekend. Crèches are also advised to consider closing
All Island Schools are now closed until after the Easter weekend. We are also advising Crèches to close but it will be at the discretion of the owner whether they would wish to close or remain open. Parents can decide whether to take their children to the Crèches that choose to remain open.
- We would advise that people don’t congregate in large groups. Bars and restaurants can still operate at their own discretion
We are discouraging people from congregating in large groups. We haven’t put a specific number on this, as it will depend on venue and how closely confined people are. We would advise people to ensure that appropriate social distancing measures can be practiced.
Bars and restaurants can remain open at the owner’s discretion if they are confident that social distancing measures are possible.
- We are restricting visitors to our Care facilities
No one is allowed to visit any care facility without prior permission. If you are intending to visit a care facility such as the CCC or Cape Villa for example, please ensure you check with the facility beforehand to be advised as to whether you can attend or not. If you are permitted to visit, minimise physical contact with the elderly and wash your hands before you enter their room.
A number of members of the public have also raised concerns around what support would be available to them if they work in the private sector but need to stay at home, either due to being a vulnerable person or to look after their children due to their Crèche being closed.
Following the announcement of these measures SHG will be expanding the business support package available to local businesses.
Support is now available to any company with an employee who is advised to stay at home due to vulnerability and are eligible for a one-time payment of £325 per full-time employee, provided the period is not counted against the employee’s sick leave and the employee is compensated at their usual rate for the period they stay at home. Vulnerable people are defined as stated above. Sole proprietors who meet these conditions will also be eligible for a one-time payment of £325 if they can demonstrate that they are unable to work as a result of being advised to stay at home. Businesses or employers with employees who voluntarily stay at home and are not considered part of a vulnerable population will not be eligible for the support payment.
In addition to this SHG is introducing Business Closure Support as part of the business support package. Any business that SHG advises to close will be eligible for a one-time payment per owner or full-time employee of £162.50 per week for the duration of the advised closure. Businesses or employers that voluntarily close without an order or advice from SHG will not be eligible for this payment.
We are grateful to the public for the social distancing measures they have taken to date and would like to thank the entire community for their support including organisations and businesses who continue to take the necessary precautions.
A separate announcement will issue around clinic arrangements at the Hospital, country clinics and the Chemotherapy Service.
31 March 2020