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CUSP call for all visitors by air to be tested this Christmas

The Civil Union of Students and Parents (CUSP) has said if the Gibraltar Government intends on testing all returning students this Christmas, then all people entering Gibraltar by air should also be tested.

CUSP highlighted that the students will be in the same closed environment as other passengers as they fly home and questioned why students had been singled out.

It added students should be able to return to their families in Gibraltar with “no penalty given the unprecedented times.”

Earlier this week, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo announced that all students returning to Gibraltar from university this Christmas would need to be tested for Covid-19 and also spend five days self-isolating upon return.

In response, CUSP called on the government to tailor tests, but understood that Covid-19 has spread in universities.

“We continue to be of the view that testing should be targeted, and that at-risk people should be tested,” CUSP said.

“We understand the view that students are coming from universities that are perceived as ‘hotbeds of infection’.”

“We have previously asked for the Department of Education to contact the universities where Gibraltarians are studying to find out the extent of restrictions and how much teaching is online.”

“We encourage the Department to establish which universities are the worst hit, and to tailor testing accordingly.”

“If this is not possible, we do consider that all people entering Gibraltar via air should be tested in the same way as students.”

“People will be travelling from potential hotspots - we note that flights to and from Manchester, a tier 3 city, are still being advertised - and will be at least as risky as our students.”

CUSP added they hope students return home for Christmas and urge the Department of Education to start thinking about what they can do to support students if they are unable to return home.

The civil union highlighted that issues such as a lack of flights, quarantine requirements and the UK government removing Gibraltar from their air corridor, which could impede students return home.

If a student is unable to return home, CUSP said they would like the Department of Education to support them in finding accommodation if they don’t have any.

“This support should include financial support,” CUSP said.

“We also recommend that the Department considers how Gibraltarian students could be supported over the Christmas period by the Gibraltar diaspora in the UK.”