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Opinion & Analysis

Gibraltar is not alone

By Fidel Patron

Today, Monday 4th May, as I post my daily short vlog on the church Facebook page I am very aware that my heading is ‘Monday – Week 7’. I started these vlogs when the general Lockdown started on 24th March.

My personal Lockdown started a week earlier, so, counting the weekend before, when we had already stopped meeting together for Worship and gone online that means that I have not left the building in 50 days.

Anyone who knows me will know how unusual that is; I usually try to take a short holiday away from Gibraltar every 50 days. This is the longest period I have been in Gibraltar since the frontier re-opened in 1982.

So what do I make of it? Let me start by saying it has been an interesting time, and that being in Lockdown has not been at all boring. I must confess that being a life-long workaholic means that my normal work week is usually 70 and 80 hour. In my situation ‘work’ entails study, social interaction, and, in some cases, hands on manual involvement in what goes on in the building.

I might have been tempted to think, at the beginning of Lockdown, that I would have been able to scale back, that I might have been bored. The reality has been far from that, I have found maintaining social contact at a distance is far more time consuming than face to face interaction.

Add to this the fact that having to prepare material for online use is time consuming. This has inevitably meant exploring and learning new skills, even setting up a makeshift recording setup and spending hours in editing.

At the same time I have also been able to keep track of what has been going on outside. There has never been any doubt in my mind that Gibraltar is special, and this time has, if anything highlighted that perception.

Of course, we would not be human if we agreed on everything, so not surprisingly there are plenty of dissenting voices of doom, criticising and arguing against many of the decisions of the Government and the actions that have been taken.

In that context seeing the Government and opposition working together has been one of the major benefits of this time, dare I say if we could see this kind of co-operation in the future it can only augur well for Gibraltar.

But of course there are the many dissenting voices, from the looney, ‘it’s all a hoax’ campaign, to those who will want to push their conspiracy theories. To those who claim that the whole thing is a hoax I reply that, away from Gibraltar, I have lost friends to this ‘hoax’, that I have friends who are traumatised from suffering the effects of being infected and intubated from this ‘hoax’. To call something that has so far resulted in nearly a quarter of a million, reported, unintentional deaths world-wide in four months a hoax, devalues all those lives.

There are of course many accusing the authorities of over-reaction. Many proposing doom and gloom for the future. I cannot deny that economically the future looks bleak, not just because of the burden of debt that Gibraltar will have to overcome, but also because the reality is that tourism, one of the main areas which our economy has traditionally been based on, will take a while to recover.

But the other reality is that Gibraltar is not alone. The burden of debt will be faced across the globe. The speed at which economies recover will depend on their ability to react and adapt, both of which Gibraltar has always been good at.

When it comes to the accusation of over-reaction, I for one am happy to live in a place that has an emergency hospital ready waiting and empty, rather than, as has been the case around the world, there has been a last minute rush to get something ready, while people are suffering and dying for lack of the facility.

Does the Lockdown need to be lifted fully to allow us all to return to normal, whatever normal may be, because we are all going to get infected eventually. I think the jury is out on that one and anyone who want to push their personal believe and agenda on the subject needs to look at their motives more closely.

Personally I am happy to trust the judgement of those who, from where I stand, have so far shown a degree of care and leadership that we have not seen in many places at this time. I would rather believe them than any of the many unknowns who, by going out buying a medical gown and putting Initials after their names in order to gain credibility, are trying to make their names on YouTube.

Ultimately I can’t wait for all Lockdowns to be lifted everywhere, so I can go on holiday, but in order to do so I acknowledge that I need to be alive and well.