Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, earlier held a press conference regarding the tightening of restrictions.
– 58,608 tests for COVID-19 have now been carried out – almost twice our population.
– Today, the number of active cases detected is 128 (126 being residents of Gibraltar).
– 31 new positives cases today – the highest number in day-on-day growth we’ve ever recorded.
– 9 people have recovered overnight.
– The total number of cases detected in Gibraltar since the start of the pandemic stands at 608.
– The number of tests carried out yesterday was a remarkable 1066.
– There are 6 people in Victoria Ward.
The Chief Minister thanked the professionals in our labs for doing an incredible job, and added: “The virus is now, once again, all around us. Community transmission is an undeniable reality.”
It was noted that the GHA are presently able to deal with the current surge in cases, but also that these numbers can grow exponentially if the virus is left unchecked.
With this in mind, the Minister for Health has been instructed to gear up the re-opening of the Nightingale Ward at Europa at short notice.
Our current availability of ICU beds is only 8 today; the ICU could easily become overwhelmed and for this reason the Chief Minister has instructed that the GHA should be ready to deploy the additional ICU facility within 24 hours of the Minister for Health’s decision to reopen it. This will be housed in the day surgery unit.
Day surgery will continue as usual, but should the unit need to be repurposed as a second ICU if numbers increase, day surgery will be cancelled almost overnight.
Five members of the staff in Elderly Residential Services and 3 residents have tested positive. As a result, all visits to ERS facilities are prohibited, with ERS in lockdown as from today.
The Chief Minister assured that these restrictions will not be in place for a moment longer than is strictly necessary, and conveyed his disappointment in having to impose such restrictions. He noted the commitment and care demonstrated by Antonio Marin and Susan Vallejo for the residents of ERS.
The GHA is now on 24 hours notice for the declaration of a MAJOR INCIDENT in the event that the Minister for Civil Contingencies and the Chief Minister deem it necessary. The CM warned that we must “be ready for it as numbers grow if we do not manage to suppress the current curve.”
“We are acting today to ensure we do everything possible to avoid having to lock down Gibraltar again or to shut our economy again.”
The Chief Minister reminded of the need to stick strictly to public health advice and observe social distancing, adding: “I know you are sick of hearing this message, but you may get very sick if you don’t heed this message.”
New BEAT measures have been agreed in CELAC to assist employees and employers, for those needing to self-isolate and who are concerned about their sick pay subsequently being affected.
Office workers in the private sector who are able to do so, are from now strongly advised to consider returning to work from home where possible.
In the public sector, the Chief Secretary will be starting a process of establishing remote working with team splits where necessary.
Those travelling this mid-term are asked to contact 200 41818 upon their return.
– Persons over the age of 70 or who are immunosuppressed should not leave their homes, unless it is necessary to work, to shop for essentials, to exercise under gold or silver hour, or for other essential purposes.
– Persons over the age of 70 or who are immunosuppressed who do leave their homes, should wear masks at all times when in public places.
The evidence now suggests that the wearing of masks reduces the viral load you give off and it reduces the viral load you become infected with.
– All persons above the age of 10 should wear masks in all public spaces where people accumulate and cannot keep social distance (e.g. Main Street).
– Attendance at funerals other than by the first degree direct relatives of the deceased is strongly advised against.
– Attendance at communal worship where social distancing cannot be observed is strongly advised against. Restrictions on the number of people who can attend places of worship will be put in place.
The Government are liaising with faith leaders to address this issue, and to bring the broadcasting of services back to our television screens for those for whom it is relevant.
Back in February when the first legislation was passed, 40,000 people were infected globally with 900 deaths.
The legislation that will be passed on Thursday refers to over 40 million cases worldwide, and over 1.1 million dead. A 100,000% increase in cases in 8 months, and a 122,000% increase in deaths. The CM stated that this should “put into context any notion that COVID-19 is just an ordinary flu.”
- Gatherings have initially been restricted from 20 to 16 people.
- The maximum number of people seated at one table will be reduced from 10 to 8 people.
- There will be no leave, public, musical performances at bars, restaurants or cafes.
- The total number of tables permitted by the Environmental Agency at any restaurant under a permit issued via the Office of Civil Contingencies Coordinator will be reduced to a ratio of 1.5 metres per person in their useable common area. Tables must be booked in advance, with detailed information of all persons at tables noted.
- Last orders for alcoholic drinks will be brought forward to 11pm.
- Only one alcoholic drink per person at a table will be permitted at last orders.
- Restaurants and bars with their own kitchen will continue to close at 1am.
- Bars, pubs or clubs that do not have their own kitchen will be required to stop service by 9pm. Such establishments must close by 10pm.
- Casinos will now be subject to the same rules as bars and restaurants and they will have to close also by 1am.
- Bars, clubs and other establishments will not be able to offer the use of pool tables or darts facilities for now.
The CM lamented that some patrons of Chatham Counterguard “have not observed the rules of social distancing and consumption of alcohol.” For that reason, tighter restrictions will be applied to this area.
- All restaurants and bars will have to close 1 hour earlier than elsewhere, at midnight.
- Wearing of masks will be mandatory in the leisure area (signs will illustrate where the area starts and ends) of Chatham Counterguard, except when seated.
- Capacity will be determined to a ratio of 3 metres per person in their useable external common area.
- Only those seated at a table will be permitted to be served.
It is unlikely that Christmas parties will be permitted in restaurants, bars or elsewhere.
“let us do everything we can to protect all our loved ones so that we are all well at Christmas and able to celebrate, even if not as closely together as we might have wished.”
Any organisation that requires an AGM for 2020/2021 will not be required to have it.
Testing for students returning to Gibraltar will now be mandatory. Students must call 200 41818 on arrival to be tested, and will have to quarantine for 5 days.
The CM asked those contacted by the Contact Tracing Bureau to be honest, open and frank: “If you are not, you are failing Gibraltar and your fellow Gibraltarians.”
He added: “We have no desire to interfere with your basic freedoms and your civil liberties, but a failure to act now would lead to an inexorable rise in coming days.”
The Chief Minister dubbed this period as “an autumn of inconvenience” as we work towards as normal a Christmas as possible, but acknowledged the confluence of Brexit and this increase in COVID-19 infections is presenting a bleak outlook.
“We will get through these challenges together. Stoicly. With our steely determination. We will prevail. We will smile again. And one day, not long from now, COVID-19 will be the nightmare we woke up from and Brexit will be the nightmare we tamed.”
New measures are constantly under review; we should begin to see the effect of these measures 7-14 days after implementation. If the results prove satisfactory, they will continue. If not, it is likely that they will be tightened further.