surinenglish

Gibraltar reports zero active Covid-19 cases for first time

The busy Main Street in Gibraltar before the pandemic.
The busy Main Street in Gibraltar before the pandemic. / SUR
  • The news was welcomed by people on the Rock but the government says nobody should drop their guard, even though this might be "boring"

Wednesday 17 June 2020 was a red-letter day for Gibraltar, as it was the first time the daily Covid-19 statistics showed that there were no active cases on the Rock. There was no change to the figure on Thursday, either, but the government was quick to urge people not to drop their guard.

The figures on Wednesday confirmed that there have been 176 cases of coronavirus in Gibraltar since the pandemic began, and all have recovered. At present, 51 people are self-isolating, because underlying health problems put them at risk or because they have been in contact with someone who previously tested positive with the disease.

Some cases were identified through checks on people coming across the border, and in this case they are self-isolating at home in Spain and the Spanish authorities have been notified.

Gibraltar has now moved into Phase 4 of its Unlock The Rock plan to ease the coronavirus restrictions. Making the announcement, chief minister Fabian Picardo said it may "sound repetitive and boring" but "we have to continue to exercise self-control and to observe the new rules of social distancing, respiratory and hand hygiene we have been banging on about". He said there is plenty of reason not to relax and to be conscious of the fact that the virus is still out there.

The importance of this was highlighted by news from nearby Algeciras on Thursday that a man who was staying in a hostel in the town had died from Covid-19 and three of the other 16 guests were found to be infected.

The border between Spain and Gibraltar reopened for official residents last week, but reports from people who have crossed say that border officials are not always checking proof of residency and sometimes only want to see passports.

Several residents of Spain who have taken the opportunity to visit Gibraltar have said that it seems like another world, with very few people in the town wearing masks or social distancing and all the shops open. In Spain, masks are compulsory indoors and outdoors if 2-metre social distancing cannot be maintained, but in Gibraltar, although the government strongly recommends masks, they are only obligatory in some situations, such as on public transport.