Fabian Picardo has announced new restrictions, with “non-essential” retail shops having to close down and operate a delivery service, and hairdressers and salons having to close down entirely among others in a bid to curb the number of active cases and people in isolation. A 10 PM curfew will take effect as from tonight until 6 AM. Emphasis was again placed on the vaccine program. Measures are expected to remain until “at least the 10th of January” 2021. He referred to the measures as a “fire break”. Here is everything you need to know about today’s press conference.
The Chief Minister of Gibraltar has today (27.12.2020) announced a new wave of restrictions as 63 new active Covid cases detected today bring the total to 482 active cases on the Rock, with 1,703 people having to isolate.
There are 9 people currently in the Covid ward and 1 in the Critical Care Unit.
Fabian Picardo said that within the staggering number of people having to self-isolate includes “a large number of people in our frontline services” and warned that the GHA and other essential services could be at risk of collapse due to these numbers. According to questions, the Borders & Coastguards Agency and the office of Public Prosecutions appear to have been hard hit.
The Chief Minister also warned that “the virus is behaving differently and is now two times more infectious as it was before”, with an R rate of 1.79. A number of “new strains” have been identified around the world.
Emphasis was again placed on the divisive vaccination programme, with the Pfizer vaccines arriving in Gibraltar during the first week of January 2021; something which he called a “game changer”.
The Chief Minister said: “the whole world needs to have the immunity this vaccine brings to finally live with this virus in the background”.
The AstraZeneca Oxford vaccine was also mentioned, which he said was “easier to transport” and expected to be “more widely available”.
“The final steps in the defeat of this virus as a life limiting infection – the beginning of the end, but we are not there yet, we are only at the beginning of the end of the beginning and that is why we are here today and imposing these further restrictions” said Picardo paraphrasing the great war-time leader Winston Churchill.
So, in a statement which will sound familiar to many, and which harks back to March this year, the Chief Minister said that he has “no choice but to announce stricter measures for at least 14 days”.
The Chief Minister urged those who can to work from home.
New Covid Restrictions in Gibraltar
Note all measures will take effect as from 28th December, unless specified below, and will remain “at least until the 10th of January”:
- Retail: All so-called “non-essential” retail establishments are required by law to be closed as from tomorrow but will be allowed to provide online and phone delivery services of their products. The period for returns of products brought during December will be extended to the 14th of February.
- Those conducting delivery services will now be required to have a swab taken every 2 weeks with a negative result in order to work.
- All hairdressers and beauty salons are required to completely close.
- Essential shops must with the exception of pharmacies close by 9 PM.
- Permitted group sizes are now reduced to only 12 people.
- Details of the latest Business Employee Assistance Terms (BEAT) measures to assist businesses and employees will be rolled out shortly. After the last closure of businesses in the spring of this year thousands of jobs were saved via government payments of £1,115 per month to employees in those industries that were particularly affected and only recently the Gibraltar government obtained a £500,000,000 loan guarantee from the United Kingdom government which it is safe to suppose may be used to cover this outlay for the second time in less than a year.
- Schools will not re-open until at least the 11th January 2021 but parents were waerned that this date might be extended further.
New Curfew Imposed:
With effect from 10 PM tonight, a curfew will be imposed on the entire population of Gibraltar until 6 AM.
Although mixing among households is not recommended the Government will not legislate in the area in order to avoid the situation arising where the police have to enforce such separation creating what Fabian Picardo called a “dystopian” situation where the police break up private gatherings at home.
This is the first time that a curfew has been imposed on the population by the civilian authority. The following exceptions will apply to the curfew:
- Dog walking
- Employment reasons
- Delivery of food
- Medical attendances
“What we are trying to do now is to curtail activities and not general liberties… we are seeking to save lives and to save the GHA… our frontline services can collapse if we see any more positives or self-isolation imposed on those who work in essential services”.
Over 70’s will not be legally required to stay at home, but the Government of Gibraltar strongly advises those in the vulnerable category not to go outside.
The Chief Minister was scathing about those who abused the system and failed to realise the seriousness of the situation which could not be measured just by hospital admittances but by the general impact that it was having on the ability of the health and other public services to deliver.
He called for responsibility and reminded the public that as he was having to deal with the pandemic he also had to grapple with the implications of Brexit on the peoples of Gibraltar and the Campo de Gibraltar where we were at “five minutes to midnight” although Picardo vowed never to give up on trying to get the best deal possible and expressed “optimism” in being able to achieve the conditions for the creation of an “area of common prosperity”. He urged the public not to make things more difficult that they already are.
Further announcements will be made on or before the 7th January 2021.