In a letter sent to the Prime Minister, the Isle of Wight MP, Leader of the Isle of Wight council and others, two Islanders you might recognise from the world of radio – Ian Dore (IW) and James Falconbridge (London) – are calling for non-essential Solent ferry crossings to be halted with immediate effect.
The exclude those required for supplies such as food, fuel and essential freight, medical personal and associated professionals and blue light agencies and associated personnel.
“Do nothing, people die”
Ian and James say,
“In short, now is the time to Quarantine the Isle of Wight.
“Stop non-essential cross Solent travel to the Isle of Wight with immediate effect. It will give the over 65s and NHS staff have a real chance of being able to save lives, and prevent future deaths.
“Do nothing, people die.”
You can read the letter in full below.
An open email has been sent to the following:
The Right Honourable Boris Johnson, Prime Minister (bcc)
The Right Honourable Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport (bcc)
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, Kelly Tolhurst MP (bcc)
The Department for Transport
Bob Seely, MP (bcc)
Leader, Isle of Wight Council – Councillor Dave Stewart
Member for Infrastructure & Transport, Isle of Wight Council – Councillor Ian Ward
Operations Director, Red Funnel – Leanna Lakes
Operations Director, Wightlink – Daryl Palmer
Press Officer, Wightlink – Karen Woods
Head of Ground Operations – Hovertravel – Julie Horrocks
We send this email with the greatest of respect for the offices and positions which you all hold, but also with the highest level of concerns for what seems like a lack of action in regard to this matter.
In daily briefings, the chief science officer always advises against “non-essential travel”. Clearly the most effective way of preventing deaths is by reducing the number of cases. Restriction of travel is key to easing the spread of COVID-19. Across the world this is having a huge impact on the reduction of the spread and subsequent fatalities.
The population of the Island is 141,538. Of which 34,818 are over 65. That is roughly 9% higher than in England and Wales. They are at immediate and high-risk. Many have underlying health issues, pushing them even further into that category. St. Mary’s Hospital only has only eight intensive care beds. Clearly if the spreading of the virus to the Island isn’t restricted now, we can expect a higher level of infections and thus fatalities. This will place enormous strain on our Hospital and it’s amazing staff. That is just the older age group.
The Isle of Wight also has incredibly concerning statistics regarding the Youth population in respect of education, rural and social isolation, mental illness, youth poverty and disability. Youngsters appear so far to bear the brunt of COVID-19 fairly well. But some won’t. The anxiety this is creating is further compounding to the issues we already have. The Islands youth are amongst the 20% most deprived areas in England and there are 4,655 children, under the age of sixteen living in poverty. Statistics also suggest there are around 1,800 young people that could be experiencing mental health problems on the Island too.
Everyone is at risk of a serious health issue or at the very least, disruption. Protection is needed for all of us that rely on the Island to function correctly. We have a unique micro economy and it needs preserving. The more time we can buy ourselves, the better chances we have of preventing social isolation, business collapse, infection, fatality and job losses. In time, the science will advance and the NHS will be in a better position. Our population will have some degree of freedom of movement which is essential for mental wellbeing.
In short, now is the time to Quarantine the Isle of Wight.
Stop non-essential cross Solent travel to the Isle of Wight with immediate effect. It will give the over 65’s and NHS staff have a real chance of being able to save lives, and prevent future deaths. Do nothing, people die. The Government and the Council have a Duty of Care to act responsibly. No holiday makers or second homeowners to come to the Island and the cross channel operators to carry out screening and validity checks, to prevent abuse. The Island by default has an amazing natural defence and yet continued crossings breach that daily. Change is needed now.
Crossings must be halted with immediate effect save for;
- Required supplies such as food, fuel and Essential Freight
- Medical personal and associated professionals
- Blue light agencies and associated personnel
Specifically, to the directors of the cross Solent companies we say this. We completely understand that you are businesses and need to maintain a level of traffic to remain profitable and continue normal operations. Don’t however put profit before people.
The fact of the matter is that you can help the Island’s population avoid mass panic, overstretching of the NHS services and protect the elderly and vulnerable form being at any further risk. You will also assist in supporting what will become a fragile economic environment.
Whilst the plans you have implemented seem great on the face of it, the fact of the matter is that it will make no difference whatsoever; if those choosing to remain in their cars are not yet showing symptoms or are asymptomatic. They will still get here. They will still be a risk and have great potential to cause the virus to grow to greater numbers. You, your partners and shareholders must look at the bigger picture and embrace their duty of care for everyone. You have a social responsibility and it’s not about pounds, it’s about people.
On a personal note, we both have elderly, vulnerable and extremely high-risk family members on the Island, I can tell you in all honestly, their biggest fear is people retreating to the Island and helping to spread the virus. We are not alone in this and are calling on ALL parties to take a stand.
You have a duty to play your part in preventing every single one of the 35,000 from infection, potentially leading to a premature death. The Prime Minister has already issued guidance that people should restrict all non-essential travel and this is supported by solid evidence from his advisors. Italy is seeing its tragic failings; we don’t have to if we act now.
We are unique and we have the power to prevent or at least, reduce the amount of suffering to the ones we love and those of others. With half term fast approaching and the increase in visitors, do the right thing and halt non-essential cross Solent travel.
Our Fathers and Forefathers went up the Beaches in Normandy without question, for the greater good, as part of the bigger picture. Now we are all in the frame. In that spirit, it’s time to stand up and be counted. We all have a part to play and for those in office, it is your duty to act.
With the greatest respect,
Ian Dore – Isle of Wight
James Falconbridge – London
Look after yourselves and each other.