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Masks to be made compulsory in shops

Pics: Johnny Bugeja

Mask wearing will be made compulsory in all local shops as from midnight this Friday, the Gibraltar Government unveiled today as it ramped up civil contingency measures.
The move comes as cases have gradually increased in Gibraltar, with some 21 active cases recorded today.
The Government announced public safety measures will be enhanced, with effect from midnight on Friday, August 21.
These measures include earlier curfews for bars and restaurants, and the wearing of masks in retail premises.
The Government said the compulsory wearing of masks in retail areas extends from the current compulsory wearing of masks by staff in shops, to all members of the public that enter retail premises.
“Breaches will be enforced by a fixed penalty notice,” the Government said.
“Exceptions will apply to people with disabilities or mental illness or in emergency situations. The law will not apply to children under the age of 11, although they are encouraged to do so.”
The Government added contact tracing shows people are not keeping to gatherings of less than 20 nor maintaining social distancing.
As a result, conditions in relation to bars and restaurants will be tightened further.
“Curfew at bars and restaurants will be brought forward by an hour,” the Government said.
“At present, restaurants and bars must shut at 2am with last orders at 1:30am. As from this Friday, last orders will be at 12:30am and bars must be shut by 1am.”
“Bars and restaurants operate on the basis of a permit issued by the Director of Public Health.”
“These permits are subject to conditions, which are designed to keep risk to a minimum. Any premises found not to be complying with the conditions risks the permit being suspended.”
“As from Friday, any bar or restaurant found to be breaching the conditions will also be
subject to a fixed penalty notice, that is, an on the spot fine. Additionally, any restaurant that is found to be in breach three times within a period of fourteen days will have their permit revoked and will be required to reapply.”
“Any drinking of alcohol in public places that are not licensed areas will be prohibited after
11pm and will also be subject to fixed penalty notices.”
The legislation will be published by the Minister for Civil Contingencies, Samantha Sacramento, to this effect and will be published in the Gazette on Thursday.
The Covid-19 Strategic Co-ordinating Group, chaired by Ms Sacramento, has been meeting on a daily basis since Sunday.
“These measures are intended to send a signal not only that we must not let down our guard but that our guard must be up and we must take extra precautions if we do not want the number of positive cases to escalate,” Ms Sacramento said.
“It is particularly imperative during this time that we continue to protect our elderly population. It is important that the elderly members of our community are not exposed to any unnecessary risk.”
Platinum, chaired by the Chief Minister, has been meeting informally daily since Monday. “We have been very successful in dealing with Covid-19 until now,” Mr Picardo said. “Numbers are rising in Gibraltar and around us. We need to ensure we stay on top of the spread. These measures are designed to be as un-intrusive as possible. I urge everyone to adhere to these new rules and help us to avoid any unnecessary and inadvertent spread of the virus in our community."
In a press statement, the Government added Gibraltar must also be mindful that celebrations for our National Day this year must be different.
“Doing our best for Gibraltar means that we must act in the best interests of our community as a whole,” the Government said.
“Details of measures in this respect will be announced during the course of this week.”
The Government reminded everyone that it is their individual and collective responsibility to play their part in ensuring that the situation does not escalate.