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GSD says ‘now time’ to lift Covid restrictions further

A colourful reminder on Main Street to maintain social distance as a key measure to reduce the spread of the virus. Photo by Eyleen Gomez

The GSD said on Thursday that it was “now time” to restore more social and commercial freedoms to people after weeks of Covid-19 restrictions.

The Opposition said that the decline in Covid cases in Gibraltar, coupled to the vaccination programme, meant it was appropriate to continue restoring civil liberties curtailed during peaks in the pandemic, and lifting commercial restrictions in tandem.

It said bars and restaurants should be allowed longer opening hours and more leeway in how much capacity they can use, while ‘tightly-controlled’ visits should be restored at the Elderly Residential Service after consultation with families.

Around 80% of the population has now received a first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and around 50% of the population have already received both doses, the party noted.

Vulnerable and elderly people, together with front-line workers, have all received second doses and cases are now at a daily trickle.

Only 22 new positive cases have been reported in the last two weeks and this despite the opening of schools 17 days ago, and bars and restaurants 10 days ago.

“As such the GSD believes that further measures can be relaxed,” said Keith Azopardi, the Leader of the Opposition.

“The ban on the serving of alcohol between 3-7pm should go and restrictions on maximum people per table in bars and restaurants should be relaxed to allow larger gatherings in restaurants.”

“Additionally bars and restaurants should be allowed to close later. The midnight curfew should now also be lifted.”

“The current restrictions are not helping bars and restaurants recover after a year of total upheaval.”

“While they were initially justified the case for retaining these now seems weaker.”

“Additionally, the ban on serving alcohol between 3-7pm is simply encouraging people to go to Spain where there are no similar restrictions but where they are more likely to bring back Covid because there is a higher prevalence there.”

“There should also be a tightly controlled programme that allows visits to ERS to commence again soon.”

“We appreciate this is a really sensitive area because of the high number of deaths in ERS and Government should consult families on possible plans.”

“The elderly and vulnerable who suffer from Alzheimer’s and dementia especially will be suffering the most during the current restrictions as will be members of families of ERS residents who are seeing their loved ones deteriorate without regular family contact.”

“We encourage the Government to work with public health authorities and ERS management to attempt to find ways to allow families to visit ERS residents safely again to give them the much-desired family contact.”

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