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Public events closed off or cancelled after virus concerns

Pic: John Bugeja

Concerns about the spread of coronavirus has led to a number of changes to Gibraltar’s social calendar, including the cancellation of the Gibraltar Music Festival.
Government ministers met in Cabinet this morning in order to determine a number of policy decisions in relation to Covid-19. The meeting was also attended by the Chief Secretary Darren Grech and the Director of Public Health Dr Sohail Bhatti.
A number of public events have been cancelled or closed to the public.
This includes the Drama Festival which will proceed without spectators, and the Gibraltar Music Festival will be cancelled in its entirety.
“The reason for taking the decision at this early stage is because public funds would need to be expended now, in advance, on signature of contracts and no insurance is available at reasonable cost to cover the potential loss of fees paid if the concert has to be cancelled in September,” the government said in a statement.
The Miss Gibraltar show may proceed without spectators depending on how the situation unfolds in the coming weeks.
The Monkey Rocks Festival will continue for the moment, on the basis it can be cancelled at short notice.
The government added that National Day is also set to continue for now.
The latest event to cancel after the Pro-Life rally and World Book Day evening performances, is the Josu De Solaun concert organised by the Gibraltar Philharmonic Society.
The Society has noted the latest advice issued by the Government’s Covid-19 Co-ordinating Group that members of the public should avoid large scale public gatherings.
“In light of this advice and after consultation with the relevant authorities and the Convent, the Society has taken the precautionary decision to postpone the scheduled concert which was due to take place at the Convent this evening,” the Society said in a statement.
“We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience to all of our patrons, supporters and sponsors, but the safety of our attendees always come first.”
“We will reschedule the concert in due course.”
“We will be in touch shortly with those who have purchased tickets through the Society directly to issue a full refund or to exchange the ticket for a future event if they would prefer.”
The Society advised people who have purchased a ticket at another establishment please contact them directly at tgpsociety@gmail.com so this can resolved as soon as possible.
The Chief Minister invited the Director of Public Health to address the Cabinet on the issues which have already been extensively discussed in the seven weeks of Government action to date on this subject.
The key message to the public in dealing with coronavirus is to take precautions, to plan and not to panic.
“It is important that everyone follows the Public Health advice that has been issued so far and that everyone understands the importance of taking the simple health and hygiene measures outlined therein,” the government said.
“The reason for this is to protect the most vulnerable in our community, meaning those over 70 or with a relevant, pre-existing medical condition.”
All government organised events where more than 100 persons are expected to attend will be postponed to a later date or cancelled.
The advice received is that the referendum on abortion will continue as it does not involve large public gatherings or people necessarily being within two metres of each other for more than 15 minutes.
Appropriate sanitiser will be provided at the polling stations. This advice will continue under review.
“Every single one of the decisions taken today, and any further decision we need to take, are being taken on the basis of the best advice available to the Government,” said Chief Minister Fabian Picardo.
“We are acting to seek to slow the onset of the virus in our community but conscious that the identification of an index case confirms that the virus is already in Gibraltar and it will very likely spread widely. This should not be a cause for panic but for proper planning and for action to protect the most vulnerable in our community. That is what we are seeking to do, based on the advice of experts and the detailed work we have done as a government in the seven weeks to date since the virus was first identified as a potential Public Health issue.”
The government also received expert advice as to a number of sporting events, some of which are privately organised, but which make use of Government/ GSLApremises.
The Rhythmic Gymnastics National Championships due to take place this weekend and which involves visiting teams from the United Kingdom and Spain, will be able to proceed, however no spectators will be allowed.
The Gaelic Football Triangular competition due to take place this weekend at the Europa Sports Park will be able to proceed, however no spectators will be allowed.
The Gibraltar Snooker Open which is planned for March 13 to 15, will be allowed to proceed on the basis of less than 100 spectators on the basis of tickets already sold. This event is also streamed and televised.
The Darts Open which is planned for 21 March at the Europa Sports Park , will be allowed to proceed on the basis of less than 100 spectators on the basis of tickets already sold. This event is also streamed and televised.
The World Pool Masters which is planned for March 26 to 29 at the Europa Sports Park, will be allowed to proceed on the basis of less than 100 spectators on the basis of tickets already sold. This event is also streamed and televised.
“The Government wants to remind event organisers that travel restrictions apply to competitors or spectators from COVID 19 listed countries, as published in the Gazette,” it said in a statement.
“The Government urges all organisations, institutions and sporting and cultural bodies to follow the Government’s leadership on this matter and to reconsider the organisation of large group activities, events and meetings, particularly those where 100 or more attendees are expected.”