ISLE of Man locals have flocked to pubs and shops after all lockdown restrictions were scrapped today.
Bars and pubs opened their doors at one minute past midnight last night while shops and restaurants were open for business today.
Shops on the Isle of Man reopened today to the delight of residentsCredit: Andrew Barton
Residents on the island will no longer have to social distanceCredit: Andrew Barton
Isle of Man locals have seen a return to normality Credit: Andrew Barton
Punters celebrated a pub reopening in Douglas, Isle of Man, at 00.01am this morning
Residents on the island – which has a population of 85,000 – will no longer have to social distance from this morning in a huge boost for morale.
All schools and businesses have reopened with locals no longer asked to stay at home or wear masks.
‘GRATEFUL AND UPBEAT’
The Isle of Man Government has taken the huge step after recording just 15 active cases as of January 31.
And locals have described feeling “grateful” and “upbeat” as the island opened up after a circuit-breaker lockdown – but are also feeling cut-off from the outside world.
Resident Aileen Broad, aged 50, said: “People are pretty upbeat because there is no Covid, which is fantastic, but it also brings with it other problems.
“Our borders are even tighter now, so even though people say they are open for Manx residents to come and go, when you come back you either have to self-isolate for 14 days with three negative tests, or 21 days if you chose not to have Covid tests.
“The reality of this is people who cannot work from home cannot go away, which in itself causes emotional and mental health problems for some who cannot see their families.
“Their families are unable to come to the Isle of Man unless for compassionate reasons which have to be approved by Government, which again is very strict and virtually limited to end of life and funerals.
“So whilst some people are overjoyed, others are feeling very cut off and referring to the island as Alcatraz.”
Restaurants can reopen and employees can return to work as normal in most settingsCredit: Andrew Barton
Locals have described feeling ‘grateful’ and ‘upbeat’Credit: Andrew Barton
Punters flocked to a pub in Douglas, Isle of Man, after it opened its doors at one minute past midnight
In comparison to the Isle’s low cases, in the UK yesterday’s figures showed another 587 Brits were recorded to have died with the virus.
And 21,088 more positive tests were recorded overnight.
Isle of Man Chief Minister Howard Quayle today announced a raft of changes to its “circuit breaker” restrictions on the island.
Gyms and restaurants can reopen and employees can return to work as normal in most settings.
The majority of public services will return to normal operation in the coming days – but the Isle of Man borders remain closed.
The Isle of Man is currently operating with Border Level 4 restrictions.
This means residents on the island and key workers are able to freely travel.
There is a mandatory 21 day self-isolation period when returning to the island.
Those travelling must isolate alone and need to complete a Landing Form for contact tracing.
Residents on the island and key workers are able to freely travel.Credit: Andrew Barton
A pub in Douglas opened it doors at one minute past midnight
Punters were quick to take advantage of a fresh pint in the early hours of this morning
Locals said people on the island “deserved it”
Meanwhile, every school in England remains shut along with restaurants and pubs while people need to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
The Isle of Man was able to limit the spread of the virus after closing its borders during the first lockdown in March last year.
The island is not part of the UK and is a self-governing jurisdiction able to make its own rules.
It has now begun its vaccine rollout and Health Minister David Ashford said everyone on the island will be offered a coronavirus jab by the end of September.
He added that those aged 50 and over would receive the jabs by the end of May, with the rest of the population to follow.
ONLY 15 CASES
Mr Quayle said: “We have been encouraged by the latest data, and we do not believe there is currently any evidence of community transmission.
“So, for those who are looking forward to catching up with loved ones and resuming normal life, we are as confident as we can be that it is safe to do so.
“We will, therefore, be lifting all lockdown restrictions for businesses and individuals from Monday.
“On February 1 residents can go out, visit friends and loved ones, children can go back to their classrooms, and businesses can reopen their doors.
“Social distancing and face coverings will be a matter of personal choice.
We will, therefore, be lifting all lockdown restrictions for businesses and individuals from Monday.”
Isle of Man Chief Minister Howard Quayle
“Across the island, remarkable work has been done to keep the numbers of new cases low, and we have cause for optimism as a result.
“Although we are so fortunate on the Isle of Man, there is still a pandemic going on around us, so we should keep our wits about us as we go forward.”
The Isle of Man was the first place in the British Isles to remove social distancing restrictions on June 15 2020.
With the exception of the border being closed to non-residents, the island had been free from restrictions since then, until a second circuit breaker lockdown was introduced on January 7 2021.
The Isle of Man hit the headlines last year when a jetski Romeo was jailed for crossing the Irish Sea to meet his girlfriend on the island.
Lovesick Dale McLaughlan, 28, made the treacherous 4.5-hour trip from Irvine, Scotland to the Isle of Man to see girlfriend Jessica Radcliffe.
The dad was jailed for breaking coronavirus rules but later released three days early in time for Christmas.
Dale was slapped with a no entry certificate that bars him from entering the Isle of Man again.
The pub in Douglas was packed with locals this morning
Locals were able to celebrate Christmas with no social distancing measures in placeCredit: lansons pr
Residents on the Isle of Man, pictured, no longer have to social distance or wear masksCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Isle of Man Chief Minister Howard Quayle announced a raft of changes to its “circuit breaker” restrictions on the islandCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Romantic roofer McLaughlan travelled 4.5 hours across the Irish Sea for Jessica
Mum-of-two Jessica says she will marry Dale if he asks herCredit: Facebook