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Gibraltar Maintains Low COVID19 Infections & CM Reflects on VE Day

Chris Gomez

Further lockdown restriction relaxed for all members of same household under the age of 70, approx 91% of testing to date (08.05.2020) have come up negative, and an impactful VE Day Message from Chief Minister.

Today’s marks the 75th anniversary of VE Day; the day in which the last remnants of the Nazi regime, which dominated Europe in the 1940s, surrendered to the Allied Powers; marking the end of WWII.

As of 9 am this morning, there have been 146 positive cases in Gibraltar; of which 142 have recovered and 4 are active.

There are zero deaths in Gibraltar to date due to COVID19.

Gibraltar is currently placed 6th in the world for testing per capita million.

Out of 3,232 test results of the population of Gibraltar, 2,971 have come back negative – meaning that, so far, approximately 91% of those tested up to today’s date have not been found to have the COVID19 virus.

The Government of Gibraltar have, on many occasions, stated that this is due to the prudent lockdown measures implemented on the 22nd of March 2020.

However, the current low rate of infection and zero deaths in a densely populated city like Gibraltar has brought about a fierce online debate as to how infections and deaths are being recorded worldwide and whether the current restrictions are too stringent.

Minister Cortes warned that the crowds allegedly seen in Main Street on the 2nd of May, may give rise to a spike in infections in the coming weeks.

The Chief Minister stated during his 4th of May speech that: “We can probably end the whole lockdown even earlier than expected – it will likely be over soon, when the last patient with covid19 will be given the all-clear… but it’s not over yet.”

There is no doubt that in the main people in Gibraltar have been exercising common sense and discipline, a sign not just of a settled and united community but also one whose government has been giving clear direction in contrast to, for example, the United Kingdom where the Boris Johnson’s government has been sending very mixed messages from the beginning.

Lockdown Rules Relaxed for Under 70’s

RGP Commissioner McGrail Reflects on COVID19 Policing as ‘Unlock the Rock’ Process Begins
Main Street Gibraltar, 2nd May 2020 | Photo: Chris Gomez ©Reach Alcance

The Government has also announced a further relaxation of lockdown restrictions on those under the age of 70. As of today’s date, all members of a household (i.e. who reside in the same house) can now go outside together for the following activities: Exercise, walking a dog and using a car of or vessel.

The rules, which were amended by Minister for Civil Contingencies Samantha Sacramento on the 7th of May, were previously capped at 4 members per household.

Chief Minister Reflects on 75th Anniversary of Victory in Europe

Today’s press conference (08.05.2020) was given by the Chief Minister Fabian Picardo and the Governor of Gibraltar Nick Pyle; which was dedicated to those who fought during WWII and put an end to the Nazi regime and WWII.

Mr. Picardo said “The world is fighting a new common enemy – COVID19. Today, on a warm bank holiday in Gibraltar, we are confronting the difficulties of lockdown.”

This comes after Deputy Chief Minister Dr. Joseph Garcia forecast a 2020 beach season in Gibraltar “unlike anything we have ever seen before,” with 30 minutes per household to “arrive, swim, get dry and go home” and supervision by the Royal Gibraltar Police, on the 6th of May.

This sparked an outcry online, with questions as to whether the restrictions are too stringent when compared with the current situation on the Rock.

During the conference, the Chief Minister asked the public to consider the world 75 years ago – when a 6 year war was brought to an end, which he said “brought huge suffering to the populations of entire countries … and 5 years of evacuation”.

Amidst the pandemic, Mr. Picardo said that “it is up to us to reflect on their sacrifice,” when thousands of families suffered years separation from their loved ones, with little to no communication, food and clothes rationing and the threat of enemy attacks.

Salvador Gomez-Beare RAF Gibraltar
Gibraltarian Salvador Gomez-Beare RAF Gibraltar

The evacuation generation experienced more than 6 years of separation, their separation was across huge distances and little or no means of communication at the time. Additionally, they endured the threat of enemy action and rationing of food and clothes. Many of those who are totally confined today are our precious over 70 year olds.”

Joe-Gingell-Between-the-Devil-and-the-Deep-Blue-Sea-Reach-Alcance-4

Gibraltar’s significant contributions to the war effort as the gateway to the Mediterranean and thus Europe were highlighted. Gibraltar was also the base in which 2-term American President to be Dwight Eisenhower conducted ‘Operation Torch’, living in the convent – “his headquarters were in the heart of the rock.” A REACH article on the Gibraltarian contribution to front line fighting can be found here

Mr. Picardo ended his speech with a warning against the rise of ‘the far right’ in Europe:

“These words may seem overly dramatic … but we will only keep the destructive threat of fascism at bay tomorrow by reminding our children and our children’s children of the recent history of our continent and the world.”

“Because we can already hear today the siren calls to the far-right. The heirs apparent to the Nazi message of the 1930’s, seeking to redefine itself in populist extremism across Europe.”

“We the Gibraltarians will never fail to call out those who seek to oppress others. And we will never fail to call out any attempt to oppress us or deny us our rights and freedoms. Not least our right to freely determine our future to ourselves.”

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