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Lockdown for over 70s extended for another 30 days, wider measures ‘very likely’ to follow suit

Lockdown rules for the over-70s were extended for another 30 days on Tuesday, as Chief Minister Fabian Picardo warned there was no room for complacency against the backdrop of a global rise in infection rates and deaths linked to the virus.

There were no new cases of Covid-19 detected in Gibraltar over the past 24 hours, Mr Picardo said at the daily 4pm press conference, but it was still too soon to relax the community-wide restrictions enforced three weeks ago.

As well as extending the rules for the elderly, Mr Picardo said that general lockdown rules for the rest of the community would “very likely” be extended too in the coming days.

As he reported the updated statistics of the virus Mr Picardo said: “It is clear that we do appear to have slowed progress of the virus in our community.”

But he caveated that with a warning: “It is because people are complying with the terms of the lockdown that the numbers of infections are low.”

“If people were to decide that as a result they will not comply with the terms of the lockdown then this is a very easy equation it will take us in the other direction and we will see the number of infections go up.”

Mr Picardo confirmed that the Cabinet, in consultation with the Leader of the Opposition Keith Azopardi, had extended the confinement of the over 70’s for another 30 days until May 15, subject to a weekly Cabinet review.

“This will mean that the rules will next be reviewed in Cabinet next Monday, on that day we will also look at reviewing the continuation of the rules of lockdown and confinement applicable to the general population,”

“My view is that it is very likely that the general lockdown will be extended also but we will want to have a weekly review of the lockdown and its terms.”

“We will therefore be reviewing the application of all rules to keep businesses closed and to keep people confined on a weekly basis.”

“But I want to be clear to all businesses and to every citizen in our community that we do not presently see circumstances leading to an immediate change in the rules in the next seven days – but we owe it to you to keep these extraordinary measures under constant review and not take their continuation for granted for one moment longer than is necessary.”

“As I said of course we must also, not fall into the trap of lifting these measures one moment sooner than may be prudent.”

Mr Picardo made clear, however, that the Gibraltar Government was actively engaged in analysing how Gibraltar might be released from the various lockdown measures and when that might start to happen.

He said the Government was monitoring how release from lockdown had worked in other countries but that Gibraltar would have its own “tailor-made exit strategy”.

“In that respect both the Task Forces I have created, Task Force Future and Task Force Restart and Recover, are already in motion,” he said. 

“Many will soon be contacted to feed ideas into their work. We are all in it together after all. We went into lockdown together and we will come out of lock down together. All our ideas will be necessary to refine the best solutions for Gibraltar. The whole community will need to be mobilised in this respect.” 

“I will therefore make no apology for consulting widely on this subject now and in the future also.”