surinenglish

Gibraltar to go back into lockdown from 10pm tonight

The border between Spain and Gibraltar - closed unless for work or to catch a flight. File photograph.
The border between Spain and Gibraltar - closed unless for work or to catch a flight. File photograph. / SUR
  • Chief minister Fabian Picardo says the coronavirus is propagating faster than it can be controlled and the government is imposing the new restrictions "with a very, very heavy heart"

Gibraltar begins another lockdown from 10pm tonight (Saturday), with people being called upon to remain in their homes unless for essential shopping, medical appointments, exercise, taking children out etc. Nobody will be permitted to cross the border into Spain unless they live or have a second home there, for medical appointments or because they have a flight booked from a Spanish airport.

Border closed

Nobody from Spain will be allowed to cross the border into Gibraltar unless for work or to catch a flight.

Workplaces will remain open, but the government is calling on people to work from home unless this is impossible.

More active cases

The chief minister said there have been 92 more active cases since yesterday, and yesterday there were 172. The R rate on the Rock is now 1.51 and the Gibraltar Health Authority is under tremendous pressure, especially as many of those having to self-isolate are frontline workers. A second Critical Care Unit has now been opened, and day surgeries cancelled.

The present rate of community transmission is so high, Picardo said, that this may be the new massively infective strain of the virus although at present it is not possible to confirm that. He pointed out that social behaviour will have assisted the virus to spread; many people have been going into Spain to get around the rules in Gibraltar or to do things they are unable to do at home because of the restrictions, and have then come back across the border, potentially bringing the virus with them.

This new lockdown is initially in force for 14 days, but will be reviewed every seven days.

Hope

The chief minister pointed out that “there is finally hope”, as Gibraltar is due to receive the vaccine on 9 January. After taking expert advice, it will be adopting a ‘one-dose strategy’ and the 5,000 doses in the first tranche will ensure that all or almost all the elderly and vulnerable residents of Gibraltar will be vaccinated.

“Today, though, we have to concentrate not on hope but on effort, as a community,” he said. “We need to see the back of this damned virus, but the government and GHA cannot do it alone. Please, support us in this final push to get rid of this virus”.