Fabian Picardo anticipates moving Gibraltar’s posture to a “Major Incident” under the Civil Contingencies Act in the next 6 weeks due to the “prevalence of the virus” but may not require another lockdown; the general use of facemasks could be legislated to be made compulsory “in some weeks”; vaccines and testing… here’s everything you need to know about today’s press conference.
As of Friday morning, 31st of July, a total of 21,244 swabs have been carried out in Gibraltar, representing 63% of Gibraltar’s population.
There has been 187 confirmed cases, with zero deaths and no one suffering from any long-term damage from having had COVID19 in Gibraltar to date.
There are currently 6 positive active COVID19 cases on the Rock, 4 of them being residents and 2 are visitors.
This comes after testing was further ramped up in mid-July with the introduction of mobile swabbing stations, which allow people who are not experiencing COVID19 symptoms but would like to check to be tested for free, so long as they hold a GHA or resident card.
The Chief Minister opened up today’s press conference by confirming that, based on Public Health Advice and in view of “the deteriorating situation across the continent, and across the planet,” Gibraltar will remain in Phase 6 of “Unlock the Rock”.
It was revealed that the global COVID situation saw a hike in cases from 15.7 million cases on Monday to 17.3 million cases on Friday.
“The advice is that we must remain at phase 6 without modifications that would relax the conditions applicable … following discussions with the Director of Public health, the firm advice is that there should not be any relaxation whatsoever of the current arrangements.”
This means that gatherings will continue to be restricted to 20 people.
Commenting on this, the Chief Minister said: “We need to be prepared to make small sacrifices for our long-term benefit,” and stated that he hopes that by taking “firm action at this time” will prevent further restrictions being imposed in the future.
The Possibility of Heightened Controls Without Locking-Down
Mr. Picardo said: “I envisage that the work we have done to date will permit us to heighten controls and restrictions in a way that will not require us to lock down again…”, and said that “we are starting to see community transmission again.”
“I anticipate that we will move to increase our posture in response to the prevalence of the virus to a “major incident” under the Civil Contingencies Act once again in the next 6 weeks. At the moment, I believe we will be at that posture by mid-September.”
The Chief Minister also stated that he has been aware of people who showed symptoms who had delayed reporting their symptoms and being swabbed.
It was also reported that some people have been using the swabbing stations to detect if they are COVID19-positive who show symptoms.
He stated that “this is not the proper procedure. Such individuals must ensure that they self-isolate immediately.”
The Face Mask Situation
The Chief Minister said that Gibraltar is not yet at a stage whereby the wearing of facemasks in public places is mandatory but revealed that regulations has been introduced today by the Minister for Civil Contingencies for the wearing of facemasks by members of staff in “certain confined spaces”:
- Public transport
- Hairdressers and beauticians
- In restaurants, including terraces
- Staff in shops
It was revealed that a failure to comply with the new regulations will incur a £100 on the spot fine.
Do the general public have to wear facemasks?
At present, it is not required for the general public to wear facemask in Gibraltar, but Mr. Picardo said that the possibility of the mandatory use of facemasks has not been “discarded”.
“We will legislate to require the use of masks in the same place where they are presently advised … we will not legislate at this stage for the general use of masks, but that may come in some weeks.”
Gibraltar’s Access to UK COVID19 Vaccine Stock
During a phone conference with Public Health England yesterday, a spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office confirmed to Dr. Bhatti that UK Overseas Territories, including Gibraltar, will be able to access COVID19 vaccine stocks procured by the NHS once they are available.
“Testing, Testing, Testing”
The University of Gibraltarlab is currently carrying out an average of 350 tests per day, and the aim is to increase this to 500 tests a day.
This comes as the Chief Minister says that testing will be further ramped up:
“We will move to ensure that there is even more testing carried out in the GHA in particular. We are concerned that the number of staff tests there are not as high as they should be.”
It was revealed that the contact tracing app has now been downloaded to 15,000 devices and Mr. Picardo pleaded with the public to download the app, assuring that the app provides the government with “absolutely no data about you”, but that it “will give you data about your exposure to anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID19”.
Last Orders at 1:30 am
Restaurants will now be required to call for last orders at 1:30 AM, however the closing time for restaurants remains at 2am.