The Chief Minister of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo, today said that the Government expects to lift the lockdown by Sunday 31st of January if “we continue the downward trend that we are seeing up to now”, but with some restrictions such as curfew remaining. “Non-essential” shops, hairdressers, gyms, schools might reopen as from 1st of February subject to guidelines, but catering industry not expected to reopen until the 1st of March… here’s everything you need to know.
Fabian Picardo said that 14 more Covid deaths have been recorded since his last press conference on Monday (18th Jan), 7 of these having been patients in the vulnerable category at Elderly Residential Services (ERS), with a potential additional covid death being investigated today.
There are currently 92 active cases at the ERS and 31 have recovered.
The Chief Minister said that “the vast majority of those infected at ERS have recovered or will recover. That is not to say that we will not see more deaths in those facilities.”
There are 11 people currently at the CCU, with 7 patients on ventilators. There are 26 patients at the Victoria ward, 21 of whom are “stable or improving”, and 15 at the John Ward, all are said to be stable.
Mr. Picardo pointed to the fact that the age of those at the hospitals range from early 90’s to mid 30’s:
“There are all ages in our hospitals, not just elderly people. We are all at risk”.
Both active cases, which is now at 605, and the R rate, which is now between 0.6/0.7, in Gibraltar has seen a decline, with the Chief Minister stating that “we are moving in the right direction, but we need R to be below 0.5… unfortunately, it is not yet clear that we are seeing those results with the consistency necessary to be able to confidently lift our lockdown”.
Lockdown Extended for Further 7 Days, With 31st January Target to Lift Lockdown
The Chief Minister warned that a premature lifting of the lockdown could give rise to a further increase in cases in the future and has therefore extended the lockdown for a further 7 days, with the 31st of January a possible date to substantially lift the lockdown.
“That means that every single person in Gibraltar is under a stay at home order… If we continue the downward trend that we are seeing up to now, then we do expect to lift the lockdown next Sunday, 31st January”.
He said that when making decisions as to unlock or ease restrictions, the R Rate “will be the main consideration, but it will not be the only consideration” and that restrictions such as the 10 PM curfew, and other measures, will remain until further notice.
“R is an indication, but it is not the only ingredient… together with other measures we can add which are not lockdown, but which none the less provide protection.
Restrictions on Certain Business and Schools Expected to be Lifted on February 1st
The Chief Minister announced that certain sectors will be able to reopen as from Monday, 1st of February under the same health and safety guidelines as before:
- Non-essential shops.
- Hairdressers, subject to the same restrictions as before the lockdown.
- Gyms: subject to a permit being granted on a restricted basis.
- Schools expected to reopen, unless there are “major increases in the infection rate, which we do not now expect”, and with St. Martin’s special needs school to reopen “as soon as possible”.
The Chief Minister said that should schools not be able to be reopened by the 1st of February, alternative arrangements are being worked on.
However, both Platinum Command and the Cabined advised against the reopening of catering establishments: “Our view at the moment is that catering establishments will likely not be permitted to open until the 1st of March”.
He also said that teachers at St. Martin’s school have today received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, and all teachers are expected to receive appointments within the next 48 hours.
7,947 vaccinations have been administered in Gibraltar to date, with zero wastage of doses.
The Chief Minister said that the vaccination progress is strong, “because we have a small population, we expect to be able to have covered all of the most at-risk categories quite soon”, before the end of February.
“We still don’t know whether the inoculation process for Covid19 is going to be an annual one, we don’t know what it is that we are getting in terms of the period of immunity etc…”
“Let us pray and hope that we don’t have to go through this again in the Autumn because coronavirus comes back as Covid21.”
Direct Financial Impact
The Chief Minister confirmed that the costs generated by the pandemic, together with the associated loss of revenue now amounted to £167,230,197.64.
A breakdown of this was published yesterday by the government of Gibraltar and can be found here.
The Chief Minister concluded his address by saying:
“I know that repeatedly appearing before you to talk about death is not uplifting. But the fact that we have suffered another 14, probably 15 deaths since my statement on Monday to Covid19 cannot be something that we avoid. In Gibraltar, no one is a statistic. Every life is precious to us all… we are working to get beyond this, but we are not yet beyond this. We will be. Of that I have no doubt.”