Gibraltar under social lockdown to control the coronavirus crisis

Picardo: "This has been the hardest decision of my political career".
Picardo: "This has been the hardest decision of my political career". / SUR
  • People have to stay at home and a dramatic series of financial measures is to be put into effect to protect employers and workers

In what he described as the hardest decision he had ever had to make in his political career so far, Gibraltar's chief minister, Fabian Picardo, announced on Sunday afternoon that a "total social lockdown" would begin from 12.01am on Tuesday, because of the coronavirus crisis. There were only a small number of active cases in Gibraltar at the time, but the advice from the public health authorities was that a spike could be expected and that action would need to be taken to isolate people as much as possible.

The terms of the lockdown are not as severe as those in neighbouring Spain, but are considered enough to protect the local population under the current circumstances. The lockdown is initally for 30 days, but is being reviewed every 48 hours. The government holds a press conference daily to announce the latest statistics and any new measures.

The only shops allowed to open are those that sell food and pharmacies. Residents are allowed to go for a run or a walk, or to exercise children, but must go alone. Everyone is asked to work from home if they can, although where this is not possible offices are permitted to continue to operate.

The government has also announced a series of financial measures to protect employers, the self-employed, full-time and part-time workers, including those on zero-hour contracts. Employees will receive a basic income every month, and termination of employment has been banned without the specific consent of the Director of Employment, which would only be granted in very exceptional circumstances.