How the Isle of Man ‘eradicated’ coronavirus

Pubs, cinemas and swimming pools have reopened on the island as lockdown fully lifted

Isle of Man
Speed limits were temporarily lowered on the island to reduce the risk of road accidents during the pandemic
(Image credit: Andrew Barton/Getty Images)

As the UK slowly eases lockdown measures, one British island is back to near normal after all but “eradicating” the virus.

The Isle of Man is the first place in the British Isles to scrap social distancing restrictions, after recording no new cases for 28 days. Pubs, restaurants, shops and gyms on the self-governing British Crown dependency all reopened last Monday, the BBC reports.

And schools are welcoming back all children from today, The Times adds.

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How the island defeated the virus

The island has reported just 336 coronavirus infections and 24 related deaths, among a population of about 85,000.

Although “some have pointed out the differences in controlling a virus on a small island with a limited population, tough decisions have been made”, says The Times, which argues that the island’s success in containing the Covid-19 outbreak is down to how the authorities “pulled up the drawbridge”.

The Isle of Man closed its border to non-residents less than a week after recording its first coronavirus case. Widespread testing for the virus quickly followed, along with a contact tracing push.

Residents also faced tougher punishments than Brits on the mainland for ignoring social distancing rules, “with hefty fines and jail sentences, typically of around four weeks”, the paper says.

During the lockdown, 21 people were jailed, 108 were arrested and 27 were given on-the-spot fines for breaking the regulations, according to the newspaper.

In addition, a mandatory 14-day quarantine for anyone travelling to the island remains in place, with police checks to ensure compliance.

Explaining how the authorities came up with their seemingly winning formula, Howard Quayle, chief minister for the Isle of Man, says that his team “looked at the best advice that was going around the world and ‘Manxified’ them”.

“We tested and tested and didn’t stop,” Quayle said, adding: “By getting it under control quickly, we knew we would be able to get out of people’s lives quickly.”

But residents still aren’t taking any chances. In the island’s 50-odd reopened pubs, “hand sanitiser everywhere and protective glass by the tills are a reminder that we are not quite living in normal times”, says the BBC’s Isle of Man correspondent Sadhbh O’Shea.

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