8 Jun, 2020 @ 19:39
2 mins read

COVID-19: Gibraltar begins to return to ‘normal’ after months in lockdown

Gib Ambulance Heroes

FACILITIES that were needed in the Coronavirus outbreak have been closing after serving their purpose or not having been used at all.

It comes as the number of active cases dropped to 11, out of a total of 176 confirmed cases from over 9,000 swab tests done so far.

Only six of these are based in Gibraltar, with five being cross-frontier workers.

One that was actively used was John Ward, that became the GHA’s COVID ward for patients, which will be reverting back to a rehabilitation ward.

The Nightingale facility at Europa remained unused and has been partly decommissioned.

Its 300 beds were not needed for any patients with severe COVID symptoms, but could be reinstated in 72 hours.

CURTAINS: The Nightingale Facility at Europa Point was never needed

Deputy Chief Minister Joseph Garcia said that they would still keep 190 beds readily available, and a ‘further 110 beds can be added within a week’ if the need arises. 

The Garrison Gym, which served as a homeless shelter since March, is now being disbanded.

The Europa FC facilities gave homeless people a place to stay while civil contingency regulations were in place to keep the public in their homes.

Elderly Residential Services have set out a plan to be able to take in visitors and family members of residents, who have not been able to see their loved ones for over 12 weeks.

Even Brexit talks have been brought back into the mix, with Gibraltar ministers going with a UK delegation to Malaga tomorrow.

They will be trying to make a deal with Spanish officials about what will happen to Gibraltar after Gibraltar leaves the EU with the UK in 2021.

Helping hand

The volunteering service set up to help people in the community in the face of the pandemic has itself ended.

It has seen over 1,100 volunteers undertaking some 1,600 requests and answering approximately 5,000 phone calls.

Gibraltar previously had military aid to help the government with projects like the Nightingale facility, though it is not required for now.

Soldiers Gha
STAND DOWN: The military will not be needed for the current fight against COVID-19

The Ministry of Defence will ‘continue to liaise with the GHA and with public health groups and will look to support specific areas like contact tracing’, according to Garcia.

With everything trying to return to a different normal, the minister advised caution as people have more freedoms.

“Gibraltar may have won the first skirmish against COVID-19, but we have not yet won the war,” said the Deputy Chief Minister.

“In many areas, we have moved away from the compulsion of law to the discretion of guidance, but increased freedom comes at the risk of an increase in the spread of infection.”


According to figures from the Deputy Chief Minister, 68,000 people crossed into Gibraltar in the entirety of April and 98,000 in May.

This is hardly anything compared to Gibraltar welcoming one million people in both April and May of last year.

“The continuing impact of the pandemic is clear at all our entry points,” said Garcia.

“In the first five months of this year, compared to the first five months of last year, the number of persons crossing the border is down 51%.”

The Deputy Chief Minister said that numbers had shown visit to Gibraltar were a fraction from the normal:

  • The number of vehicles crossing into Gibraltar is down by 63%
  • Air arrivals and departures were reduced by 60%
  • The number of visits from cruise ships slowed to 88% of last year
  • Nearly 2,000 passengers flew to the UK from Gibraltar in May
  • Just over 1,000 passenger arrived on the Rock from London Heathrow Airport

Despite de-escalation of lockdown measures, Garcia urged the public to keep watchful, maintain social distance and not get together in groups of more than 12.

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