Over the past week, the ‘Covid-free’ Isle of Man has found itself with a new cluster of cases.
The benchmark case for this cluster was a Steam Packet Company crew member who tested positive out of service.
Since then, the Isle of Man now has 25 active cases with a “ clear transmission train ” back to the crew member.
A the investigation is now launched after reports from the Steam Packet Company that the Manx crews did not self-isolate when returning from the UK.
The Isle of Man government has said crews from the Manx and the UK should adhere to ‘modified isolation’, which means they can travel from the ship to their accommodation, but must remain isolated when ‘they are away from work.
These details are laid out in a key company management advisory that is granted to the Steam Packet teams.
Chief Minister Howard Quayle previously described the dispute as a “ difference of opinion ”, with internal talks currently underway with the government-owned ferry company.
I lobbied Health Minister David Ashford for updates, and he said ‘no one would rush to judge’, but said he thought he ‘had to there have a fault somewhere in the protocols ” as the virus continues to spread.
Since the launch of the investigation, a senior Steam Packet Company official has shared a letter with the Isle of Man Examiner, written to the Chief Minister.
In the letter, the worker describes the rules as “ ludicrous ” as the crew “ works a one-week shift, week off, ” which could mean the crew is “ constantly isolated until ‘at the end of the pandemic’ ‘.
Indeed, workers are invited to self-isolate for 14 days.
The Isle of Man has been in the UK media numerous times during the pandemic, often for its strict rules, especially on the borders and for those who have isolated themselves.
Whether it be imprison a group of five welders for breaking the quarantine rules or lock up a man for traveling 40 km across the Irish Sea on a jet ski to visit his girlfriend.
But as has been said on both sides of the conflict, workers cannot be expected to spend their lives in isolation.
So an investigation into what this “difference of opinion” is and what the outcome turns out to be will be important.
However, it should be noted that this is not a police investigation.
At this point, representatives of the Steam Packet Company continue to meet with the Isle of Man government and we have been promised that the results of the investigation will be shared.