30 Apr, 2020 @ 20:06
2 mins read

‘UNLOCK THE ROCK’: Gibraltar eases COVID-19 restrictions on businesses from May 2 onward

Main Street Gibraltar

LOCALS will be able to go shopping on Main-Street this Saturday for the first time since the social lockdown started.

Shops which were forced to close due to the pandemic will have to follow social distancing rules set out by Public Health Gibraltar.

The Chief Minister said there may be a limit on how many people are allowed in a shop at one time.

Masks will be used where social distancing can’t be done sufficiently.

People queuing up will have to keep in line with social distancing measures.

Retailers will have to provide hand gels at places of access and many will open from 10am to 5pm.

Restaurants and cafes will remain closed ‘until further notice’ but take-away services will continue as always

Estate agencies and offices will be allowed to open along with retailers on May 2.

The same can be said for hairdressers and beauticians who will have to wear masks to prevent transmission of COVID-19.

Personal trainers will be allowed to start working also, but gyms will remain closed ‘for now’.

It comes after the over-70s were allowed to exercise as from yesterday for the first time since their own lockdown took place on March 17.

“Our approach will continue to be to prioritise public safety and security by seeking to continue to suppress the spread of the virus, as much as possible,” said Chief Minister Fabian Picardo.

Picardo stated that the easing of restrictions will need to be ‘gradual’ and ‘prudent’ to reduce the chances of increased community infections on the rock.

“You have done a magnificent job of working with our law enforcement agencies in keeping to the lockdown,” continued the Chief Minister.

“You will have to do so for a little longer still because we cannot yet say that our lockdown has worked, but we can say that our lockdown is working.”

Businesses will still be getting help from the government to pay wages as they are like to get far less customers than before the pandemic.

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Building blocks

Construction sites that have permits from the Chief Technical Officer in Gibraltar will be able to continue work from May 4.

Picardo said these sites will see ‘very strict controls’ for access and operation.

Site-workers will need to be temperature tested and not allowed to leave the site during work hours.

“Where the rules of social distancing cannot be observed masks will have to be worn even if work is being carried out in the open air,” added Picardo.

Ship repairs may be carried out as from May 6, with workers keeping in line with public health advice and being temperature tested.

The announcement came after news that number of active cases detected in Gibraltar had risen to 13.

Over 2,600 tests have been done on the community, including new swabs on front-line workers, as part of the government’s ‘exit strategy’ for COVID-19.

A ‘fluid’ master document to ‘unlock the Rock’ will act as a roadmap focusing on living with the Coronavirus, and will be released next week.

The document will include information on how the government will open up restaurants, gyms and nightclubs in the near future.

Patients on the GHA’s waiting list will have urgency levels given to them and could be called to be screened for cancer as from May 4.

Education will be at a standstill until May 18, with the government announcing a detailed plan after talks with the NASUWT teachers’ union.

The Chief Minister hoped that by the end of May, ministers and opposition MPs will be able to meet again in parliament

“It will be important to see our democracy, starting up as much as it is important to see our economy, starting up,” he said.

Picardo warned against using the easing of restrictions to socialise with friends and asked eager shoppers to be careful this Saturday.

“Creating an agglomeration of people down Main Streets would be nonsensical, contrary to common sense, and might lead us to once again tightening up the lockdown,” concluded Picardo.

“If you’re feeling cocky enough to think the numbers of infections in Gibraltar are such that you’re no longer at risk, well good luck, because 21 days later, you may have caught the virus and may be dead.”

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