Gibraltar draws up cautious plans to start easing lockdown

Gib is quiet during lockdown.
Gib is quiet during lockdown. / SUR
  • The first move will be to allow over-70s to take exercise every day if they so wish, but it will be under strictly controlled conditions

The Gibraltar government is planning a gradual easing of the lockdown measures which were introduced a month ago, as the coronavirus statistics show few new cases and a high recovery rate. However, it warns that the easing of restrictions will have to be in the form of an orderly and phased release, one which can be reversed at any time and which is dependent on a series of criteria.

At Tuesday's press conference, deputy chief minister Dr Joseph Garcia stressed that "each step in the process will be followed by a pause, in order to monitor the effects of relaxation. We will loosen, but understand that we may need to tighten again, for there is no proven path for release and we are in unchartered waters where every country faces different challenges. We do too".

One of the first measures will be to allow over-70s to take exercise if they so wish, but this will be under strict conditions. The government has discussed the idea of a 'Golden Hour', a certain time of the day when elderly people can go for a walk in a designated area where they will come into contact with fewer other people.

Gibraltar's over-70s were the first to be confined to home because the virus has proven to be particularly deadly for older people. They are able to go out for essential purposes, such as to buy food or go to the chemist, but have been strongly encouraged to stay indoors whenever possible. Although some have welcomed the idea of the chance of outdoor exercise every day, others are more critical, saying they would prefer to have more freedom regarding where and when they go for a walk.

The government is keen for people in general to be aware that they should not let down their guard. Dr Garcia stressed that a surge in the virus could still be to come, and it is vital that everybody respects the lockdown and social distancing measures.

Apparently not everybody has complied. Police commissioner Ian McGrail says officers have stopped several hundred people who were outside with no goodreason, including socialising with friends or going for a drive.