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Gibraltar On Track for 1 August ‘Rock Unlocked’ but no return to “where we were before”

Chris Gomez

Testing increases as new mobile swabbing stations start today, vaccines likely to be available “well into next year”, a “different format” for national day being considered as major events are cancelled and Gibraltar’s Cultural activities continue… here’s everything you need to know about today’s press conference.

Today (20.07.2020) Gibraltar has entered its 6th day of zero recorded COVID19 infections, with 180 positive cases and no deaths recorded to date. This comes after a 3-week period in June where zero local active cases were recorded on the Rock.

17,870 swabs have now been carried out to date, representing 53% of Gibraltar’s population, with 1% of these tests proving positive for COVID19.

Reflecting on the continuing low figures, Minister John Cortes said “we can continue with unlocking the Rock with the aim of “Rock Unlocked” on the 1st of August,” but warned that “this does not mean a return to where we were before”, as he reflected on higher global infection rates.

Here is everything you need to know about today’s COVID19 press conference headed by Minister John Cortes.

Testing Ramped Up in Gibraltar with “Mobile Swabbing” Introduced Today

Gibraltar on Track for Rock Unlocked 1 August COVID19 National Day 2020
COVID19 Testing Facilities at the University of Gibraltar can now handle over 300 tests per day

Testing for COVID19 on the Rock has been further ramped up, with the University of Gibraltar now being able to carry out over 300 tests per day.

Starting today, a “mobile swabbing facility” has officially begun operations, which will allow for anyone holding a GHA card or registration to get tested on the spot, with results expected to be made available within 24 hours.

Cortes explained that “most of our cases have no symptoms,” and therefore swabs can be carried out as a precaution rather than because the user thinks they have COVID19.

Results, whether positive or negative, will be given to you by phone and the Minister stated that “you will then be offered the opportunity to enter into a 1 in 8-week testing cycle.”

Gibraltar on Track for Rock Unlocked 1 August COVID19 National Day 2020

Every Monday, a Mobile Swabbing Station can be found at the Piazza in Main Street between 7:30 AM and 12 Noon.

On Thursdays and Saturdays, the station can be found at Morrison’s Car Park.

The mobile facility will be found at other locations around Gibraltar and these locations will be released shortly.

Vaccines will “probably not be widely available until well into next year”

During the press conference, Minister Cortes stated that there “seem to be positive developments” in relation to a COVID19 vaccines, but that it will probably not be widely available “well into next year”.

The Minister said: “We are now happily being considered of being part of the NHS supply line which gives us a great deal of comfort in making vaccines available.”

“We are pretty confident that we would be able to vaccinate our people as and when these become available”

The Gibraltar Fair, Calentita and National Day Celebrations

Gibraltar Nationla Day

As with all major events across the globe, the Gibraltar fair and the internationally renowned Calentita food festival have been cancelled this year.

Minister Cortes said that the government is looking at a “different format for national day”, stating that “we’re looking with some hope towards events nearer the end of the year, with ongoing work on how we can make the annual festival of lights an enjoyable, low-risk occasion in the run up to Christmas.”

COVID19 Situation Around the World

COVID19 Spain

Minister Cortes explained the COVID19 situation globally, whereby higher numbers of infections are being found.

“The world has had the highest infection rate figures since the pandemic began,” stating that 1m new cases have been recorded worldwide between Monday 13 and Friday 17 of July.

Brazil has recorded 2 million new cases, with India seeing 1 million and the US having recorded 3.7 million.

Cortes also explained that Spain hit the highest rate of infections since 10th of May, with Aragon and Catalunya lead.

BEAT COVID Contact Tracing App Surpasses 10k Downloads

Gibraltar Contact Tracing App

As of this morning, the BEAT COVID contact tracing app has been downloaded 10,044 times.

“It clearly shows that the great majority of our citizens continue to hold that sense of responsibility that is seeing us through the crisis.”

Cultural Activities Continue to Resume Under New Public Health Guidelines

Art vs COVID Exhibition

During last week’s press conference, sports took centre stage with the announcement of further sporting activities resuming. Today, the focus shifted to the Gibraltar’s cultural scene.

Dance schools and academies have been resuming classes under Public Health advice.

The Cultural Development Summer Programme foe young people has been developed by Culture.gi – offering fun and educational classes, which, Minister Cortes said offer “opportunities for growth and development”, including an art treasure hunt at the Mario Finlayson Art Gallery.

The Library Summer Book Club is being held at the John McIntosh Hall Library, whereby children will choose 4 books to read over the course of August.

Children will be required to come to the Library every Wednesday over the four weeks of August (5th, 12th, 19th & 26th), for an hour between 11am and 12 midday. These sessions would involve group discussions and readings, with some work then set for the child to complete at home

The Fine Arts Gallery is also holding an unmissable “Arts vs COVID” exhibition, featuring works of Gibraltarian and international artists which convey the reactions to the pandemic. This will continue until the 25th of July.

Minister Cortes also said “it is hoped that as from the 14th September, an auditorium could be allowed to hold half the maximum audience as opposed to one third.”

What do you think?