At the time of writing, things are looking up – at a pace, a slow one – but caution needs to be the ‘in’ word at this stage which for most of us is difficult to keep in mind. Masks are off, Main Street is getting a little busier, more people around, we meet our friends and acquaintances, we gather, we drink, tactility comes into play as many of us are naturally inclined to touch and yes, that ‘caution’ is carelessly thrown to the wind along with social distancing! As the song goes, ‘we’re only human after all’ but if things go downhill, much of the blame, WILL be put on you…and me!
And so concludes the gloomy, negative message (which unfortunately cannot yet be ignored). Yes, shops, bars and restaurants are getting a little busier as is the Gibraltar International Airport, which this week welcomed no less than seven flights in just one day!
That means that tourists are beginning to buzz around town, up the Rock and elsewhere, most not heading for the frontier because, although Andalucía is again slowly getting better regarding Covid-19, entry and exit requires unwelcomed awkwardness shall we say – so hooray for taxi drivers and coach tour companies who’ve been in limbo for many, many weeks.
that ‘caution’ is carelessly thrown to the wind along with social distancing!
Pity about the dreaded levanter cloud which doesn’t seem to want to go away, putting a damper for some, on the otherwise generally pleasing and agreeable picture of the sunny, Rock of Gibraltar image. But we’re being positive which is good, with facilities opening up: theatres, art galleries, drama groups and others along with gyms and sporting events attracting more crowds – albeit with limited numbers allowed to attend. Clearly bars and restaurants – many of them full to the brim especially at the weekend – are welcoming much needed clientele. Other recent news is that all our hotels are full and with just under 1,000 rooms to fill we’re well short of what is required.
Spain is not yet ‘green’ enough to attract it onto the ‘list’ hence part of the reason, I would think, our hotels are filling up so quickly. Regardless, we do need a couple more hotels if we want to build on our tourism product. A happy situation is also to be experienced by those wanting to visit their elderly relatives at the ERS homes and there’s also a more relaxed regime at the GHA.
But prudence and concern has to be followed everywhere, difficult in some cases we know, but we must be aware and not allow that dreaded spike turning up like the proverbial bad penny yet again. Already there have been reports of a handful of virus-infected individuals (most unvaccinated) which sadly have dented our Covid-free record of no cases for a number of weeks. The UK and Europe are having their ups and downs also, fearing the Delta variant now present in this part of the world. The UK relationship with the sub-Asian continent particularly with so many British Asians returning from visiting families and friends in India and elsewhere has meant the spread to a number of areas in the north of the UK in particular. Consequently, extra caution and watchfulness is a must on the Rock as almost 100% of our tourists and visitors arrive from the British Isles! Cruise ships which have only been allowed for a few months now to come in for bunkers, supplies and crew changes, will shortly renew their calls as before, anchoring in the bay and coming alongside the North Mole. With Gibraltar being on the green list, all of those passengers and crews are now more than welcome to enjoy their short stays on the Rock. Some Spanish tourists are also visiting from across the way too.
That inspired me to become more interested in our local talent, so I started digging.
And what about possible changes in our day to day lives – sometimes referred to as the ‘New Normal’ – because of the pandemic? Well, there’s been much talk about allowing more individuals to work from home. What are the benefits? Those coming in from Spain wouldn’t have to commute, so that’s a plus giving them more freedom to choose their working hours in some cases and being on-hand to attend to family and other matters.
However, I spoke to a couple of those experiencing the ‘working from home mode’ who told me they’re happy to be back at the office, claiming to my surprise, they worked harder from home! Then, the fact you’re married to the computer screen for all that time at home totally concentrated on your work with no distractions, (especially when partner at work or out shopping and/or kids at school), you miss being around your work mates having a chat and perhaps a little light relief during breaks – remember, ‘all work and no play…’.
The wicked Covid impact was also discussed recently at a GIBRAEL commerce meeting. During this sad, pandemic period many Governments, captains of industry, heads of lawyer firms and other company managers must’ve taken time out to think about what the future holds for almost every country with so many millions of pounds incredibly depleted in government coffers, and other very serious financial losses to businesses and elsewhere.
Also discussed at that meeting the point was raised about having to import costly individuals with specialist skills tasked to take on certain jobs that locals could be undertaking by acquiring those skills. There are some who are qualified, we’re slowly getting there, but more expertise is required which would cut costs at this ‘heavily short of funds’ juncture! Cyber Crime, with money disappearing from bank accounts and data being interfered with, was also talked about. With it becoming more prevalent, it needs to be addressed along with the need for more expert training to tackle these crimes as technology comes evermore to the forefront. It has to be said our youngsters at our comprehensive schools are heading in the right direction doing very well even winning Cyber Centurion competitions in the UK. They will hopefully become the experts needed to manage those specialities, saving millions of pounds and securing a better future for us all…so keep up the good work, kids!
Hence, despite the bad times experienced over many months – too many – let’s hope the up side of it all is we’ve been able to put our heads together and come up with some positive and effective ideas to tackle this new normal, if that’s what it’s to be, and get our economy and well being back on track. I can’t imagine how many sleepless nights heads of governments, company directors and others have endured, wondering when it was all going to end and how the much-needed funds would, if ever, be replenished.
I think, deep down, we all know the waiting game – even with the de-escalation plan slowly being put into action successfully it seems – is not over yet. Phrases like ‘out of the woods’, ‘light at the end of the tunnel’, ‘the end is nigh’ are still unfortunately, hanging over us like the levanter cloud over our famous Rock. So far, we can count our blessings but I’m definitely keeping my fingers crossed…are you?