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Gibraltar delays Unlocking the Rock due to Covid-19 situation

Gibraltar's unused Nightingale facility had been dismantled.
Gibraltar's unused Nightingale facility had been dismantled. / SUR
  • The restrictions were due to end on Saturday but Gibraltar will remain in Phase 6 for the time being

The Gibraltar government will not go ahead and 'Unlock the Rock', marking the end of the restrictions in force because of the coronavirus crisis, on 1 August after all.

At a briefing on Monday, chief minister Fabian Picardo announced that Gibraltar will remain in Phase 6 of the easing of restrictions for the time being.

On Friday Picardo confirmed there would be no modifications to the existing restrictions in Phase 6. Where masks are required, he said, this will be more strongly enforced. He also said that they couldn't rule out compulsory masks in future.

"The virus is back in our community. We are seeing community transmission again. Please, be careful,", said Picardo.

Referring to cases in nearby countries, he said, "We are far from being out of the woods, it is NOT all over."

There was some good news, however: confirmation that when there is a vaccine, Gibraltar and other British overseas territories will have access to UK's NHS stocks.

The decision was taken after advice from public-health experts because Gibraltar on Monday had five active cases of Covid-19 after several weeks with none (two residents and three visitors, all of whom were self-isolating and none in hospital) and there have been spikes and an increase in infections in the nearest jurisdictions, i.e. Spain, Morocco, Portugal and the UK.

Referring to a phrase used on a previous occasion by public health director Dr Bhatti, Picardo said on Monday that Gibraltar is like "a dry bush between two raging fires" and it is essential that it does nothing to cause the fire to head in its direction.

By Thursday, the number of active coronavirus cases in Gibraltar had risen to seven; four residents and three visitors who are believed to have been crew members who had flown in to join their ships. They are always automatically tested for coronavirus before being permitted to do so. In this case, they were all asymptomatic.

Gibraltar has been implementing a massive scheduled, random and voluntary testing scheme and its track and trace app has now been in operation for several weeks.