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Active Covid19 Cases Drop as 10.2% of Gibraltar Tested & New Normal for Beach Season

Chris Gomez

A reduction of 3 active COVID cases on the Rock, 10.2% of Gibraltar’s population have been tested, beaches this summer to operate under ‘new normal’ and airline industry in crisis faces major changes.

During today’s press conference (06.06.2020) led by Deputy Chief Minister (DCM) Dr. Garcia and Medical Director Dr. Rawal, it was revealed that 10.2% of Gibraltar’s population has now been tested, and active Covid19 cases have dropped from 12 to 8.

Today’s statistics stand at 144 confirmed cases, 136 recovered cases (3 new recoveries since yesterday), 8 active cases – all of which are at home – and zero deaths.

Dr. Garcia revealed that Gibraltar has reached “an important milestone,” with 3,104 tests having been carried out (2,961 results received and 134 pending) – placing Gibraltar 6th in the world for testing ‘per capita million’.

Dr. Garcia reminded of the potentially changing nature of the statistics as he recapped the April Covid19 data:

“We started April with 46 active cases of covid19 and 770 tests done. The number of active cases then dropped to only 2 on the 24th of April and then shot up to 13, 6 days later, on the 30th of April … by then we had carried out 2,626 tests” which included frontline staff.

Gibraltar 2020 Beach Season “will, sadly, be unlike anything we have ever seen before”

“The situation itself is still far from normal” said the DCM, “the 2020 beach season will sadly be unlike anything we’ve ever seen before”

Echoing the Chief Minister’s statement last week, beaches will only be accessible for exercise purposes only; with a 30-minute rule per person and the Royal Gibraltar Police monitoring the situation.

“The pandemic is changing the way we do things, this is happening everywhere, all over the planet … going to the beach is no exception.”

Beach attendances are of course an important tradition for Gibraltarians as in most Mediterranean seaside locations in the heat of the summer so that the impact of these restrictions cannot be underestimated.

It was revealed during the conference that the following items and activities will no longer be permitted on the beach: Deckchairs, umbrellas, inflatable boats, sunbathing, picnic hampers, BBQ’s, beach parties and “no breakfast, lunch or dinner at the beach”.

“You arrive, swim, get dry and go home … in this way everyone can have their turn,” and although he acknowledged the bluntness of the new rules, he repeated that not following Government rules “puts others at risk.”

It was also confirmed during questions that “the RGP will take an operational decision at a given moment in time if they find that they need to close a beach.” This has already happened in Gibraltar on the 2nd of May.

“It is possible that this will happen again if the rules aren’t followed.”

It is also worth keeping in mind the changing nature of restrictions announced by government – these rules may or may not need to be implemented by summer as the world learns more about the virus and its impacts.

Airline Industry: “Airlines are on the verge of collapse”

Major airline companies are announcing large job cuts: British Airways have announced 12,000 redundancies after having furloughed over 22,000 employees through the UK Government’s job retention scheme.

Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O’Leary has said that “We’ve certainly guaranteed all of our people that we would maintain the payroll through April and through May. If it continues beyond that, I think we would have to look at some job losses”, calling the social distancing rules “idiotic”.

Virgin Atlantic have announced 3,000 job cuts.

Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker has written an internal memo; “we will have to make a substantial number of jobs redundant – inclusive of cabin crew.”

The ‘New Normal’ for the Airline Industry

British Airways will link Gibraltar to Heathrow every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

The Deputy Chief Minister stated during the press conference that “like everything else, air travel will never be the same again”:

“The use of face masks is likely to grow further, temperature monitoring also, middle seats on aircraft may need to be kept free, lengthy health checks will be added to lengthy security checks. All this will make air travel more time consuming, not to mention, more expensive.”

This could be further exacerbated, as the DCM said, “in the UK, there is already talk of imposing weeks in self-isolation for all arriving passengers – including British citizens.”

Dealing with Flight Cancellations

The DCM offered up some helpful advice for those who have had their flights cancelled during the conference – and we’ve summarised them here:

  • If an airline cancels a flight registered in an EU state, or if your flight departs or lands in an EU state, the airline is obliged to offer: a) a refund, b) a reroute at earliest convenience or c) a reroute at your preferred date.
  • This also applies to Gibraltar and the UK, but not Morocco.
  • The rules are different when you yourself have cancelled the flight. In which case, a refund depends on what kind of ticket you have purchased.

Thus good news on the clinical front has been tempered by the prospect that, for at least this year and perhaps even indefinitely facilities that we have all always taken for granted will be forbidden or severely restricted.

What do you think?