29th May 2020

SARK COVID-19 TESTING

Twelve Samples Taken - Twelve Negative Results - No Further Testing Imminent

Source: https://sarkgov.co.uk/ - last updated - 4th May 2020

To all intents and purposes the coronavirus pandemic has all but passed Sark by. Yes, we all had to make a few sacrifices, but we have not suffered a single case of COVID-19. It is to every Islander’s credit that this incredible feat was achieved with little more than a large dose of good old-fashioned common sense. We only had to close our borders, check that every one that was already on the Island was coronavirus free, and then weather out the storm.

Opening up our borders just a little over two months after having to close them in the face of the first pandemic in living memory, is a time for reflection, celebration and sheer unadulterated joy. As a result, Sark’s reputation as an oasis in a troubled and often dangerous world has soared to new heights. Lockdown by consent meant that a single part-time Constable, Paul Burgess, and his Vingtenier, Daniel Gale, were able to monitor and maintain the protocols needed at the outset of lockdown with the only the lightest of touches. They were, no doubt, a bit busier than normal, but they have taken it all in their stride, and history will record that they played a significant role in ensuring Sark remained coronavirus free.

It has not all been plain sailing. To paraphrase Charles Dickens: “It was the best of times on Sark, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.”

“THE BEST OF TIMES”

No one on Sark who needed a little help to get through the crisis went without. Several employers continued to ensure that their employees received a wage each week, even when it was impossible for them to go to work. Numerous landlords quietly came to an arrangement with tenants facing financial problems to ensure that heat, light and food came first and rents second. Our local shops moved heaven and earth to provide the best service they could throughout the crisis by guaranteeing regular deliveries to every house on Sark.

Much has been made publicly of hardship funds and food banks, but the overwhelming number of Islanders, be they suffering hardship or in a position to offer a little help, have found common ground in the philosophy that generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need. Quietly, discreetly and free of any fuss, there has been a great deal of giving and receiving in Sark over the past couple of months; none of which will ever see the light of day.

“THE WORST OF TIMES”

The rush for control over every aspect of the lives of the people of Sark by the group of Islanders who constitute the Pandemic Emergency Committee should, and has sent a shudder down the spine of anyone who values their personal freedom and liberties. There was no justifiable reason to grant unfettered power to a state committee to ‘prepare and co-ordinate any and all measures necessary to deal with a possible pandemic outbreak on Sark.’ These are powers of state that have echoes of those endured by the people of Sark during the Occupation of World War II.

“THE AGE OF WISDOM”

Second only to the good old-fashioned common sense shown by the people in the face of the coronavirus pandemic were the words of encouragement and hope coming from La Seigneurie. With the 75th Liberation celebrations cancelled Christopher Beaumont declared:

“I hope that people will take no pain in not being able to celebrate in the way that we had planned this year, but look forward to next year when we will be over the troubles that we are in at the moment, and we will be free and able to celebrate in a way that we would all wish to celebrate.”

“THE AGE OF FOOLISHNESS”

Having granted themselves unprecedented powers of state, the Pandemic Emergency Committee showed their contempt for the sacrifices being made by the ordinary people of Sark by letting a chiropodist and a farrier come to the Island, breaking lockdown and treating what were clearly non-life-threatening situations. Who you know, not what you know, will always make you first amongst equals in Sark. The age of foolishness has just begun. The Sark Newspaper confidently predicts that getting the elected and unelected would-be politicians in Chief Pleas to give up the power to ‘prepare and co-ordinate any and all measures necessary to deal with a possible pandemic outbreak on Sark’ is going to be a challenge equal to that of any faced by the people of Sark in the Island’s 455-year history.


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