With the number of active Covid-19 cases down to low single figures for some time, Gibraltar is now taking further steps to 'Unlock The Rock' from the strict restrictions which have been in force for over two months.
Phase 2 of the plan began on Monday and from today, Friday 22 May, people are still advised to stay at home but are no longer obliged to do so other than for certain essential purposes.
All being well, Phase 3 is due to begin on 1 June, when Gibraltar will formally stand down from Major Incident status. Shops will be able to open for longer, restaurants and cafés will be able to welcome customers as long as they maintain social distancing and do not exceed 50 per cent of occupancy capacity. Some pupils will have returned to school. Small events will be permitted, as long as social distancing is maintained.
The fourth phase of Unlock The Rock is scheduled to begin on 16 June, as long as the cases of Covid-19 have not increased to an extent to cause concern. This coincides with the start of the official bathing season, and despite earlier warnings from the government that conditions will be in force, it now hopes that things will be as close to normal as possible. Bars will be able to reopen in this phase, but will be subject to strict controls and social distancing measures will be essential.
By Phase 5, which is due to begin on 29 June, it is hoped that levels of activity will be close to those before lockdown was imposed in March. More people may be allowed to attend events, but only to a level which allows organisers to properly apply social distancing protocols.
During Phase 6, which is expected to start on 15 July, the government and health authorities will review the restrictions still in force and release them when it is considered safe to do so. The plan - always depending on how the coronavirus evolves - is for the Rock to be unlocked on 1 August.
The government's daily press conferences ended on Monday, although information is still published. An emotional chief minister said he and his team had "stared into the abyss" at the start of the crisis, when they were told that ten per cent of the population could die. "You cannot imagine what it is like to look at losing 3,000 Gibraltarians," he said.