LATEST CHANGES

Following recommendations from the Scientific and Technical Advisory Cell in Jersey (STAC) and in consultation with Public Health, the Jersey Government has agreed to relax the isolation policy for fully vaccinated direct contacts, and to extend the COVID Status Certification scheme to those who have been fully vaccinated outside the CTA on 23 June 2021.

There is a delay to entering Stage 7 as case rates increase in the UK and on-island.  It is believed that the Island will now enter Stage 7 on or around 5 July. Until that time, nightclubs are closed and stand-up drinking is not allowed.

1. Filings - normal services

The Jersey Financial Services Commission (JFSC) continues to work remotely in part, however its main reception reopened on 1 June.  The Registry is working on an entirely digital basis and document submission is through the electronic filing portal Easy Companies Registry and by email for the JFSC. The Registry is also in the process of rolling out a new platform called myRegistry.

In light of the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 virus, the JFSC originally relaxed certain timing obligations and granted many extensions for various filing requirements.  However recently the JSFC noted that most timings and processes have reverted to pre-covid work practices including time frames for onsite examinations.  The JFSC has capped at GBP55 late filing fees for delayed annual returns until 2021. Processing of paper returns is delayed due to the remote working procedures in place, but good standing certificates will be available for companies whose returns have not been processed. The JFSC has also given a three-month extension in relation to certain other regulatory filings; given guidance on ANLA, capital and financial resources, outsourcing, cyber and financial crime and certain notifications. Further details can be found here. The Companies Registry has announced that it will consider applications from public companies to delay the requirement to file audited accounts where it is satisfied that the delay is as a result of the difficulties arising from the pandemic. The JFSC have also provided businesses with additional guidance to ensure information is completed fully and accurately found here. Recently the JFSC also announced that it is proposing an early reduction on annual confirmation fees for local companies in light of Covid and is also proposing to change how it charges Registry fees in the future.

2. Can searches be conducted? - new changes

Company searches may be conducted, through the electronic Easy Companies Registry however as a result of the new software platform, MyRegistry and the subsequent migration of services, searches cannot be carried out entirely as normal. Please ensure any requests for searches come to us in good time.

3. Certificates of good standing – normal services

Certificates of good standing, whilst available electronically, are not a customary feature in relation to the execution of transactions with Jersey companies.

4. Other searches – normal services

Bankruptcy enquiries continue to be serviced by the Viscount’s Department but contingencies are in place should they be unable to respond to enquiries.  There is an online list of the bankrupt estates under the Viscount’s administration.

5. Court sessions and position (including filings and hearings) - normal services

The courts are operating normally but there are requirements for mask wearing in the various local courts. As noted above however, the courts are still operating normally and save where a party or a representative is self-isolating, hearings are taking place with the parties present rather than virtually. Jersey’s Royal Court did put in place revised procedures and practice directions for civil and commercial matters which were designed to ensure that the Court could continue to operate effectively and safely through the Covid-19 crisis.

The Jersey Court service has converted a space within the Royal Jersey Agricultural and Horticultural Society (RJAHS) building to host Assize (Jury) Trials.

Jury trials require a Jury of 12 members of the public. In order to provide for physical distancing, the annex building of the RJAHS will be used as the Royal Court, with the main hall and administration building supporting the Jury and witness waiting areas as well as the Jury retiring room.

The Court has also accelerated certain elements of the Court’s digitisation project to facilitate working during the Covid-19 disruption and beyond. The Court has also issued revised protocols in relation to filing electronic and hard copy documents with the Court. Procedures have been introduced to permit hearings to take place by video link or by telephone where appropriate and revised practice directions have been issued including guidance in relation to tenancy disputes for commercial and residential property. Revised procedures have also been issued for Magistrates and Family Court matters to ensure that those Courts can continue to administer justice and deal effectively with criminal and family law matters.

6. Local Restrictions - open with restrictions

The Island has embarked on a gradual relaxation of the current Covid measures in controlled settings. From Monday 12 April working from home guidance was lifted. The island is now in Stage 6. There is a delay to entering Stage 7 as case rates increase in the UK and on-island.  It is believed that the Island will now enter Stage 7 on or around 5 July. Until that time, nightclubs remain closed and stand-up drinking is not allowed.

The Jersey government has announced an accelerated timeline for the reconnection plan. For more information please click here. The government recently confirmed that over half the adult population of the island has been fully vaccinated.

This change follows the receipt of new advice and takes into account the low rate of Coronavirus cases, the high level of testing and contact tracing, and the success of the Covid-19 vaccination programme in Jersey. Masks must be worn indoors but many other restrictions have been lifted.

Throughout the second lockdown, general guidance has been published to assist businesses with safe operation, as well as specific guidance for a number of sectors.

For a copy of the reconnection roadmap which contains the proposed date for each stage out of lockdown, please see here.

The current Coronavirus Advice for Business may be found here.

7. Any travel restrictions - open with restrictions

A testing programme has been approved by Government which permits airlines and ferry companies to operate regular services to and from Jersey. The programme requires travellers arriving in Jersey to follow a strict process involving pre-registration before travel, followed by either swab-testing or self-isolation on arrival. Government has produced a risk classification which groups countries into three groups with increasing levels of self-isolation and testing for arrivals from those countries depending upon current risk levels. The risk classification is regularly reviewed and updated. Currently passengers arriving from green countries will have to self-isolate on the island until a negative Covid-19 test is confirmed. As all testing will be done on island, it is envisaged that this will take up to 12 hours.

The old traffic light regime has been reinstated in relation to the UK and Crown Dependencies.

Following advice from Public Health, and in consultation with the Scientific and Technical Advisory Cell (STAC), the Council of Ministers have agreed several changes to the Safer Travel Policy, which was reintroduced for inbound travellers last month.

From Friday 28 May 2021, the following changes were made:

  • Individual national classifications for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the Crown Dependencies.
  • Testing regime for Green arrivals will require two tests – one on Day 0 and one on Day 8. Green arrivals must still isolate until their first negative test result. The testing and isolation requirements for Amber and Red arrivals remain unchanged.
  • Fully vaccinated passengers arriving from a green or amber area in the UK to have reduced testing and isolation requirements. Fully vaccinated arriving passengers will still be required to have a Day 0 PCR test but will not need to isolate.
  • Red, Amber and Green classifications for the rest of the world restarted from 28 May 2021. Jersey will align its RAG classification as closely as possible to the UK Joint Biosecurity Centre traffic light system.

The changes reflect the strong progress on vaccination in Jersey and the UK, which has allowed for fresh consideration of border risk within the Common Travel Area which includes the Channel Islands, Isle of Man, Ireland and mainland UK and Northern Ireland (CTA). The revised regional classifications are also intended to simplify travel to Jersey, providing greater certainty for travellers to the Island.

All tests are free of charge. Anyone refusing to take a test must isolate for 14 days.

New Isolation Changes

Following recommendations from the Scientific and Technical Advisory Cell (STAC) and in consultation with Public Health, Ministers agreed to relax the isolation policy for fully vaccinated direct contacts, and to extend the Covid Status Certification scheme to those who have been fully vaccinated outside the CTA on 23 June 2021.

Isolation period

A person will be classified as fully vaccinated once two weeks has passed since their second dose. The implementation of the following policy for fully vaccinated individuals came into effect on 23 June 2021. This means anyone in isolation who was fully vaccinated is now able leave isolation after their first negative result.

  • a reduction in the isolation period for fully vaccinated direct contacts identified on-Island, with isolation until a day 0 negative test result, and further testing on day 5 and 10.
  •  fully vaccinated passengers identified as direct contacts while travelling to Jersey will no longer be required to isolate, but must be tested on day 0, 5 and 10.
  • fully vaccinated healthcare workers identified as direct contacts must isolate until a day 0 negative test result and undergo daily PCR testing if returning to work in frontline health and community care settings.
  • fully vaccinated individuals will not need to isolate if they are living in a household with someone who has tested positive with Covid-19.

Immediate isolation is required if any fully vaccinated direct contact develops symptoms. They would need to call the helpline to arrange a PCR test and isolate until a negative result.

Covid Status Certification

Ministers have agreed to allow fully vaccinated passengers who have received their Covid vaccine outside the CTA to benefit from Jersey’s Covid Status Certification scheme.

From Tuesday 29 June, fully vaccinated passengers arriving in Jersey, who have received a complete course of a Jersey approved Covid-19 vaccine anywhere in the world at least 2 weeks before arriving, will be able to enter Jersey:

  • with a Green Light status if they have a Green or Amber travel history. This means a day 0 test on arrival and no isolation requirement.
  • as a Green arrival if they have a Red travel history. This means a day 0 test on arrival with isolation until a first negative test result, and further testing on day 5 and 10.

Ministers have also confirmed that the above decision will include people who have received their doses of MHRA-approved vaccines in two different places. The pre-travel registration form will be amended to allow evidence of vaccination to be submitted from more than one jurisdiction.

Jersey has a smartphone app designed to alert users when they have been near another app user who has recently discovered that they have Covid-19. The app uses Bluetooth technology and “Close proximity” is defined as within two metres for 15 minutes or more to a positive case of coronavirus. The app is anonymous and only retains necessary data for a 14-day period. Any information subsequently passed on to the contact-tracing team when users contact them may be held in line with local public health law. It has recently been upgraded to include more versions of Apple handsets so it can reach more people.

The Jersey Covid Alert app will work alongside the island’s current contact-tracing system to create another level of protection against community seeding of the virus. New government measures have increased the resources available to both local testing and the contact tracing regimes.

8. Other Temporary Regulatory Measures 

The Government of Jersey launched a loan guarantee scheme to provide additional financial support to local businesses facing disruption as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak. The scheme has also been agreed in coordination with the Governments of Guernsey and the Isle of Man. The scheme will be operated through clearing banks who lend to local businesses in Jersey.  In addition the Government of Jersey obtained a two year GBP500 million revolving credit facility from a consortium of local banks to provide the Minister for Treasury and Resources the maximum amount of flexibility to allocate expenditure in support of households and the economy during the pandemic and the recovery from it.

Phase 2 Government of Jersey’s Co-Funded Payroll Scheme offers employers and self-employed workers a subsidy of 80% of their wages, up to a cap. The Government of Jersey believes Jersey’s scheme is among the most generous in the world, on a level with that offered by the Government of New Zealand. The Jersey scheme has currently protected over 16,000 local jobs. Figures issued on 22 March by the Government of Jersey shows that at its peak, around one-third of Jersey’s workforce benefited from the £81 million paid through the Co-Funded Payroll Schemes between and March and August 2020.  At least a quarter of the jobs supported were in the hospitality business and a fifth in the construction industry. On 21 May the government confirmed that this scheme would be extended until July.

Recognising challenges that may be faced by local businesses in difficult trading conditions, the Viscount, who is the administrator of bankruptcy (désastre) proceedings, has issued a Guidance Note alongside a Practice Statement from the Law Society of Jersey on the application of and issues surrounding liability for wrongful trading, intended to assist directors of a Jersey company to understand the position and what steps they may wish to consider depending on the particular circumstances of their company. The JFSC have also been in discussion with a number of local retail banks to ensure that they have measures in place to support customers who may be experiencing difficulties due to Covid-19.  Written guidance has also been provided to all credit providers on the island.  The Government of Jersey has also advised that any businesses operating from properties owned by the Government of Jersey have being given additional support to reduce the risk of their insolvency as a consequence of Covid-19.

During the pandemic, the local government has offered all its business tenants a rent deferral. Under the new Government as Landlord Policy, alternative concessions such as rent holidays and early lease terminations will also be considered.

The Government of Jersey has also introduced many fiscal easing initiatives for the local economy and arranged for funds in identifiable dormant banks to be distributed to local charities to support projects that benefit people affected directly by the impact of Covid-19. There is also a new visitor attractions and events scheme which has been established to assist local visitor attractions with 80% of their fixed business costs until the end of April 2021 subject to the fulfilment of certain criteria.

The Government recently released the second tranche of its fiscal stimulus fund, offering over £6.8m to successful applicants.

9. Implications for economic substance compliance and residency

Where companies’ operating practices have to be adjusted to compensate for the Covid-19 outbreak, the Comptroller will not determine under Article 6, Taxation (Companies- Economic Substance) (Jersey) Law 2019, that a company has failed the economic substance test.  Where a company incorporated in another jurisdiction has been tax resident on the basis of control and management in Jersey, and the Comptroller considers that any changes dictated by Covid-19 are temporary, then this will not disturb the determination of corporate tax residence from that prevailing before this outbreak.  This treatment will only apply to adjustments to the normal operating practices, and to the extent required to mitigate the threats from this outbreak. More information can be found here.

The Government of Jersey has made a number of reliefs available to businesses operating in Jersey and individual residents on account of Covid-19 including the postponement of GST payments and recognition of exceptional circumstances affecting the residence of individuals.

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Andrew Weaver

Partner: Jersey

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