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Gibraltar eyes UK travel green list after six weeks without new resident cases

Gibraltar has recorded nearly six weeks without any new cases of Covid-19 among residents, as expectation grows that the Rock’s tourism sector will spring back to life this summer after a difficult year.

According to the Gibraltar Government’s data, the last positive resident case of the virus was detected on March 23. By April 8, that person had recovered and there were no active resident cases on the Rock.

That has remained the case since then, although some cases were detected after that date in seafarers on board vessels in the Bay of Gibraltar.

As of May 3, there were only three active cases in Gibraltar, all seafarers on a vessel.

The data points to the sustained success of Gibraltar’s community-wide vaccination programme.

To date, some 33,611 people have received both doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

A rolling testing programme continues in parallel, with over 235,115 tests conducted since the start of the pandemic, enabling health officials to swiftly isolate any new cases detected.

The success of the programme so far has placed a spotlight on Gibraltar as countries around the world push ahead with their own vaccination regimes and explore ways of easing restrictions, including on travel.

The UK Government is expected to list its ban on foreign holidays for people in England as from May 17 as part of the next easing of coronavirus restrictions.

It will introduce a traffic light system that will be risk-based, with different rules for people returning to England depending on which list their destination is on.

Gibraltar is widely expected to be on the green list, meaning people visiting the Rock from England will not be required to isolate on return, although they will still have to be tested.

On Sunday, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the list of nations where international travel will be permitted would be published before May 17.

He told The Andrew Marr Show: “We said we’d make the changes on May 17 and we would set out the details of the new system, which is a traffic light system, before then. So, it’s coming shortly.”

The Commons’ Transport Select Committee issued a report which stated the green, amber and red lists of destinations should be published by last Saturday “at the latest”, but this has not happened.

Instead, the Department for Transport (DfT) has only said the lists will be made public in “early May”.

Gibraltar has figured prominently in media reports around the world for its vaccination programme, most recently this weekend in the Financial Times.

The FT said Gibraltar was “the surest bet” of any destination to win ‘green status’ on the UK traffic-light system, noting too that new air links this summer pointed to airlines predicting strong demand.

Speaking to Sky News at the weekend, Health Minister Samantha Sacramento expressed confidence that Gibraltar would be able to keep both residents and visitors safe going forward.

“We're very much looking forward to being on the UK's green list when that is announced on the 17th of May,” Ms Sacramento said.

“Gibraltar has a lot to offer and we are very much looking forward to welcome visitors from the UK to Gibraltar.”

“We have in place systems to make sure that our population continues to be safe, as well as to welcome visitors in a very safe way.”

“As a result of our vaccination programme, we haven't had a single positive case of Covid in Gibraltar from a resident in the last five weeks.”

Ms Sacramento highlighted the UK’s “great generosity” in providing the vaccines for Gibraltar and delivering them in frequent batches to the Rock, allowing uninterrupted vaccination for the vast majority of residents and thousands of cross-border workers too.

And she said that despite the positive data, the government was adopting a cautious approach to easing the few remaining restrictions.

“We have come out of our lockdown gradually, with a lot of thought in the process of the easing of restrictions,” she said.

“We are hoping to do away with the very few restrictions that we have in place in the coming weeks and hope to get back to a very safe normality.”

Ms Sacramento cautioned that Publish Health advice on social distancing and hand hygiene was still in place, although the focus now was on urging people to exercise individual responsibility and follow the guidance, rather than imposing regulations as in the past.

The Covid situation has improved too in the Campo de Gibraltar, although health officials there sadly reported another death over the weekend.

Overall though, the trend in new infections is downward.

There were 35 new cases reported in the Campo over the weekend, according to data from the Junta de Andalucia, including 13 in La Linea, 17 in Algeciras, three in San Roque, one in Tarifa and one in Los Barrios.

The highest incidence is in Los Barrios, which had 75.7 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, followed by Algeciras (67,4), La Línea de la Concepción (62,8), San Roque (57), Tarifa (44), Castellar de la Frontera (32,7), Jimena de la Frontera (14,9) y San Martín del Tesorillo (0).

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