2nd January 2021, 18:07
Gibraltar is in lockdown. People can only go out to work, exercise and shop for essentials. Places of work remain open, although everyone is still encouraged to work from home.
The lockdown follows a sharp increase in active cases, hospitalisations and the worrying number of frontline workers in self isolation, which is putting a strain on the GHA and services.
Reluctant to have to increase any restrictions, the Chief Minister however said this was as good a time as any, a slow time for businesses and a time when we are mostly at home. This lockdown, is different to the last, in that there is no lockdown in Spain, with Fabian Picardo saying those who own second homes in Spain would be allowed to cross the frontier as well as those with medical appointments, booked flights or any other valid reason. The announcement, however coincided with the locking of the Campo municipalities which means no-one will be able to travel in or out of the Campo area. It also means that no travel will be allowed between the Campo’s eight municipalities. A spokesperson for the Junta de Andalusia said the new measures for the Campo are in response to the high numbers being reported in the region, which it attributes to the Gibraltar spike.
The Chief Minister announced a full Civil Contingency was now in play and a Major Incident Posture for the whole of Gibraltar has been declared. For the next fourteen days you will only be allowed to leave your home for the reasons we are now familiar with. This will be reviewed in seven days time.
Fabian Picardo warned people not to try and find a way through the rules but to try to ensure strict compliance with the rules. He urged people to work from home, but unlike the lockdown in March places of work will not close.
And good and bad news for the vaccine. Good in that the first batch will be arriving on the 9th of January, not so good in that we don't know when the rest will come. And Gibraltar now joins the debate in the UK of a double or single dose strategy. The first offers around five percent higher immunity, the second allows you to vaccinate double the amount of people.
With the decision taken with the UK, the Chief Minister explained the roll out approach was spread between the UK, Gibraltar and the other Overseas Territories. This means it's not that the UK will get it first and Gibraltar second but the vaccines will go across the UK and Overseas territories first for the elderly and vulnerable with the vaccination programme continuing in this way. Vaccines he said, can't be bought or sold by the highest bidder but have to be distributed by Governments.
In answer to questions from the press, the Chief Minister also spoke of one of the most worrying statistics, the increase in cases in Elderly Residential Services and on the source of the outbreak there, seeing as all care homes are closed to visitors.
He said the start of school may be delayed and there would be skeleton childcare provisions for essential workers. There will be no bus service and buses will be used to transport essential workers. All visits to the prison have been stopped with immediate effect.
And the effects of the Covid restrictions mean British Airways may need to reconsider it's schedule. Saturday's flight left with an hour's delay as the airline waited to return those not allowed to land, to the UK.