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6 Phases to Unlock the Rock: Positive News for Beach Season & Restaurants

Chris Gomez

The Unlock the Rock document will be released tomorrow setting out the 6 stages of the process – we have set out the timeline below of each phase and what you should expect.

“With a small number of cases and an increased ability to test and track exposure to the virus, we will be moving from a situation where we restrict movement by compulsion, to a situation where we are more targeted in the restrictions that we impose.”

– Chief Minister Fabian Picardo

Today’s COVID19 statistics (11.05.2020), show the first increase of a single active COVID19 case in three days. This brings the total to 4 active cases – all of which are at home.

Gibraltar has had 147 confirmed cases since mid-February, with 143 recoveries and zero deaths.

The Chief Minister confirmed that there are still no patients in hospital or in the COVID ICU, and the Nightingale facility “remains a virginal demonstration of this community’s success in warding off, at least the first wave of COVID19.”

13% of the population have now been tested as part of the Government’s aggressive testing strategy, with 4,155 tests carried out to date, and 345 tests pending.

This comes after some fears that the recent unlocking measures that allowed retail stores and hair salons to reopen on the 2nd of May could have caused a spike in numbers of infection as people took to Main Street.

The 6 Phases of Unlocking the Rock

The full Unlock the Rock strategic document will be released tomorrow at 4 PM (12.05.2020), and will cover all 6 phases of the unlocking strategy up to the 1st of August.

The Chief Minister reiterated that this will be a “fluid” document, subject to change if the conditions for unlocking are not met, i.e. if Gibraltar experiences a surge in infection.

Gibraltar is currently on its final week of phase 1 of the unlocking strategy, and next week will commence Phase 2.

Phase 2 – 18th of May:

  • Some museums, libraries and exhibitions to reopen.
  • Laws restricting free movement to be lifted, taking effect on the 23rd of May, with 2 caveats: Government advice will remain the same and the law restricting large gatherings will remain.
  • We will start to see more activity in the GHA.
  • Gyms to reopen during this phase but subject to stringent controls.
  • Parliamentary activity to resume.
  • Return of construction works within dwellings with rules.
  • Education to begin its phased return.

Phase 3 – 13th of June

  • Expect to see a return of religious worship subject to “very strict social distancing controls”.
  • Theatrical, musical and dance performances to resume for broadcasting purposes.
  • Return of public transport.
  • Restaurants to reopen with restrictions of up to 50% of capacity; public health permits will be required.

Phase 4: 16th June

  • Bars and cafeterias to reopen with health permits.
    Bathing Season

The Chief Minister said: our ambition will be to see a normal bathing season with normal beach-going, we do not want to see any restrictions whatsoever on our ability to attend beaches.”

The government is also considering reserving the Europa Pool and the GASA Bathing Pavillion exclusively to over 70’s.

The Chief Minister also stated that the government will reserve the right to impose restrictions should infections increase.

Phase 5 & 6

During these phases, there will be a review for restaurants, bars, cafeterias and gyms which should see a further loosening of restrictions should the requirements for unlocking be met. If there is a surge of infection, the rules will be tightened again.

  • A review of beach-going restrictions.

“Assuming everything has gone well, which is a big assumption then we will move to Rock Unlocked, Phase New Normal 1st August”.

During this phase, attendances at funerals and weddings may see a return to some normality, but with limits on the number of attendees.

The document which will be released tomorrow will also provide information on:

  • Advice on daily life, work and business.
  • Detail on accessing Gibraltar by air, sea and land.
  • How the public sector will deal with matters in the future.
  • When and how sporting events can return.
  • Massive testing programme.
  • Isolation.

The document will also include what the Chief Minister has called “mythbusters” from the World Health Organization.

Enforcement and Self-Policing

RGP Commissioner McGrail Reflects on COVID19 Policing as ‘Unlock the Rock’ Process Begins

The Chief Minister confirmed that self-policing and ‘common sense’ during the process will be key in ensuring a successful unlocking, and spoke out against the practise of taking photos of people who are believed to be disobeying the social distancing laws.

“Stop the nonsense of criticizing people that you might see in a moment are closer than a metre and a half from each other. That sort of situation is so absolutely dystopian that it’s not a society that I would ever want to live in, and I certainly won’t preside over any circumstances which bring about laws to that effect.”

During questions, Mr. Picardo called for “common sense” when it comes to the implementation of social distancing rules.

Together Gibraltar called on the Government for stricter social distancing enforcement on the 4th of May. A statement published by TG read:

“In order to ensure compliance, stronger enforcement of these norms ought to carry warnings and fines for repeat offenders. Though we understand the pressure this will put on our police and law enforcement agencies, we do not believe it is a dystopian measure.”

What do you think?