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12th May 2020, 15:41

'Unlock the Rock' document published by Government; view it here

The Government has published its 75-page “Unlock the Rock” document, which maps out a bespoke, phased strategy for Gibraltar to exit the COVID-19 lockdown. It includes mass screening of up to 2% of the population each day, and antibody tests for the entire population. 

At Tuesday’s press briefing, the Chief Minister said he has written to Boris Johnson seeking an exemption to the UK’s 14-day quarantine requirement for travellers.

Fabian Picardo also revealed that university students who have had any part of their maintenance grants refunded will be required return these to the Government by 1st July.

The Chief Minister and Public Health Minister gave a joint briefing on the 6th consecutive day that has seen Gibraltar’s Active Covid cases remain in single figures.

Fabian Picardo said this was a “magnificent statistic” and was a great day to celebrate International Nurses Day.

With figures staying low, the Government will change its posture as from next Thursday from “Advisory” rather than “Compulsory”.

Regulations restricting the movement for over 70’s will be extended until the 21st May, after which regulations affecting all ages will equalise.

However, the Chief Minister warned that while legislation affecting freedom of movement will be repealed in the first week of phase 2, the ones restricting large social gatherings will remain.

Mr Picardo said the “Unlock the Rock” document also contains proposals on cutting pollution and encouraging a healthier lifestyle. However, he said, while the Government has benefited from working together with the Opposition on it, he said he regretted that they were unable to agree on the issue of the road closures announced last week.

Mass testing

Public Health Director Dr Sohail Bhatti outlined his vision for what he called Gibraltar’s “Brave New World”. He said his department is establishing three key services which involve aggressive screening, Contact Tracing and anti-body testing.

Dr Bhatti revealed that as well as swabbing 2000 a week, GHA staff will have repeat tests every four weeks, while other frontline workers will have them every seven weeks. The Covid-Drive thru will be expanded to allow for this. This way, he said, any rise in Covid can be monitored. Anyone found to be in contact with someone who has tested positive will have to self-isolate for 10 days, and could see up to 25% of the population self-isolating at any one time.

Dr Bhatti also said anti-body tests have been ordered and will be offered to the entire population.

UK and Spain Quarantine

Moving away from the document the Chief Minister revealed that he had been in touch with the Prime Minister on the issue of the UK’s imposition of a 14-day quarantine period for those entering the UK from abroad.

In answer to GBC questions, Mr Picardo also addressed the issue of Spain’s own quarantine measures published this week.  He said this applies to air travel only, and would not affect Gibraltar's land border with Spain. 

University grants

Mr Picardo revealed that the Department of Education has written to UK universities regarding fees paid in advance for the this year’s third term He also warned that all Gibraltar students who have received a refund for their accommodation will need to return this to the Government, or keep it in lieu of their grant for next year. The Chief Minister said over £2 million has been paid out, and any sums recovered would be donated to the GHA. However, he stressed that each student would assessed on a case by case basis, and those who have required their maintenance grants in the UK during the lockdown period, will not be required to return any money to the department by the July 1st deadline. All students will be receiving an email explaining the requirements.

Ending, on news that will be welcome by everyone, Mr Picardo revealed that the beach season will open on in mid-June, provided everything goes well. 

You can view the full document here.