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Govt to further tighten Covid-19 measures as cases rise

Masks are already compulsory on public transport, both for passengers and drivers. As from Friday August 28, the use of face coverings will be mandatory in all covered public areas. Photo by Stephen Ignacio

The Government of Gibraltar will introduce stricter measures as from tomorrow to help stem the spread of Covid-19, including the mandatory wearing of face masks in all covered public places.

People over the age of 70 will also be urged to stay at home unless “absolutely necessary” and to avoid contact with young people in particular, while tighter controls on access to elderly estates and residences will also be implemented.

The new measures, which will come into effect as from Friday, are aimed at slowing the growth of the number of Covid-19 cases in the community.

The Government said its strategy is to introduce measures which will have an effect and thereby ensure Gibraltar can avoid having to impose any general lockdown measures, which will happen as a last resort.

This comes as the number of active cases of coronavirus detected in Gibraltar rose to 67, including 50 local residents, one visitor and 16 non-residents.

In addition to wearing masks in all covered public areas, subject to certain specifications, people are being discouraged from socialising outside of their household and established social bubbles.

ELDERLY

The Government has stopped short of legislating for the restriction of people aged over 70, as occurred earlier this year.

But the advice is clear and anyone in that age group is being strongly encouraged to stay at home wherever possible in order to minimise contact with others.

“The message to our over 70s has to now, once again, be stark and clear: stay at home,” said Chief Minister Fabian Picardo.

“This is not a legal requirement, but it is clearly the best advice we can give them.”

“As the height of summer recedes, over 70s should only go out if they have to.”

“They should avoid socialising with younger people – even relatives, children and grandchildren – as these may be asymptomatic carriers of the virus who may infect them with fatal consequences.”

“We have done very well until now as a community in avoiding the worst effects of Covid-19 and we can continue to do well if we stick together, follow the rules and protect our most vulnerable.”

“[Yesterday we saw] an increase in cases, but all are either asymptomatic or people suffering from fairly slight symptoms, with no one in hospital or ICU.”

“Let’s keep it that way by continuing to work together, following advice from Public Health Gibraltar and showing the best of our community.”

The Government said it will again upscale arrangements to provide all necessary delivery and other services to the over 70s who are unable to have such services provided by family members or others.

In addition, young people are being asked not to socialise with or visit grandparents if they are over the age of 70.

The Government said this is because young people are the demographic with the most asymptomatic cases and they could pass it on to their elderly relatives.

Provision is being made for Golden Hour and Silver Hour to return in certain areas the day after National Day as well.

Visiting times for the Elderly Residential Services will be reduced from two hours to one hour, with only one visitor allowed.

The Government stressed that it is likely the ERS may return to a full lockdown in the coming days or weeks.

There will also be restricted access to the elderly housing blocks for visitors, with mandatory masks and hand cleaning protocols in place for residents returning to Albert Risso House, Charles Bruzon House, Seamaster Lodge and Bishop Canilla House.

At schools, there will be a “no loitering” policy at school gates in addition to the staggered entry and exit system being introduced.

The Government said it will work with the teachers’ union on the introduction where necessary of extended school hours to assist parents who would rely on grandparents over the age of 70 to collect children from school.

AIR TRAVEL

The Government is considering the introduction of further measures to be implemented at Gibraltar International Airport before individuals are permitted to embark aircraft to the United Kingdom.

This matter is under active consideration and discussions will be commenced with the United Kingdom in this respect, the Government said, adding a further announcement will be made if appropriate.

NATIONAL DAY

New measures will also be announced in respect of the celebration of National Day this year, which will include the cancellation of the fireworks display and the introduction of other restrictions.

These will include the fact that there will be no large screens permitted for the viewing of the National Day programme in public places to avoid the congregation of crowds, as the Government’s intention is to discourage large crowds on September 10.

Mr Picardo said: “I have been very pleased to note the very positive attitude to adherence to the measures we introduced last week.”

“We are introducing further measures now and considering more measures for coming weeks in order to ensure that we can avoid a new general lockdown, whilst also controlling the numbers of persons with the infection.”

“In order to ensure that we are taking steps timeously, the Covid-19 Special Coordination Group will now meet at least twice a week, and more often if necessary.”

“Platinum Command will start regularly meeting once a week and will do a daily review of updated numbers of infections.”

“I also want to highlight the way the RGP has moved to its Covid-19 Engagement, Education and Explaining strategy to help inform the public and ensure adherence to measures already introduced.”

“I commend Commissioner Ullger for this proactive stance in keeping with the position of the National Policing Chiefs’ Council in the United Kingdom.”

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