SOME businesses could open in May and elderly people may soon get exercise time, said the Gibraltar Government.
The loosening of the lockdown came after the number of active cases remained at 12 out of a total of 132 confirmed cases from nearly 2,000 tests made so far.
The announcement was made in a historic joint press conference by the Chief Minister Fabian Picardo and Leader of the Opposition Keith Azopardi.
“For now the lockdown rules will remain in place, although we have started a process of modifying them in order to gradually release more activities,” said Picardo.
“The regulations of general application will therefore be renewed on Thursday, which is the 23rd of this month.”
With the current lockdown regulations expiring on April 23, any slight changes could be announced the day before.
Picardo said the rate of infection at the moment was at 0.6%, and without a death so far was quite a lot less than 300 deaths predicted by the WHO in Gibraltar.
This ‘success’, as he put it, has led to the government drafting ‘a written exit plan’ to explain how the lockdown will be loosened.
The decision follows the condition that cases are not rising at a high rate, there are no seriously ill patients and less than 25% of those who are ill are over 70.
“With those four conditions met, we are now ready to implement, first of all, the opportunity for the over 70s to go out to exercise,” said Picardo.
“But it is very likely that if you are over 70, lockdown will continue for many more weeks.
“When you are out exercising, you must NOT stop and socialise and you must ALWAYS keep to the social distancing rules.”
On this topic, he admitted that unless science provided other answers, it was possible that the elderly and vulnerable ‘may be more permanently exposed’ to COVID-19 in the future.
The second measure was giving more freedom to the business community.
“We expect the permission for some businesses to start to re-open will be effective from the May 1,” said the Chief Minister.
“This will enable us to align the re-opening of some businesses with the relevant dates for claims under the BEAT COVID Measures for businesses.”
For now, he said, ‘everything would stay the same’ because Gibraltar was in fact an ‘experiment’ on how to relax lockdown conditions.
This process could be a stop-start experiment too, as the Rock is one of the unique cases with this sort of success story.
“We may have to change things which we embark on.
“We have a long road still to travel.”