NEW rules on masks and guidelines for mobile testing have been set out by the authorities as COVID-19 cases went up again.
There are now 25 active cases in Gibraltar, 23 which are residents and two visitors.
The government published new rules this week to force people to wear masks in most enclosed places like shops and takeaways.
“We all need to do what we can to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus,” said the government.
“This is why laws have recently been made which are intended to promote the use of masks.
“These are intended to lower the risk that the virus can spread and infect vulnerable individuals in Gibraltar.”
The authorities have published the following detailed information to ensure everyone knows what they are doing:
What are the changes for retail shops?
There will be an obligation on the public to wear a mask when they are on the premises of a retail shop unless they have a reasonable excuse to not do so or one of the exceptions apply.
There will also be a requirement on the person responsible for carrying on a business as a retail shop to ensure that no person will be allowed to enter or remain on their premises unless they are wearing a mask.
They may only not wear a mask if they have a reasonable excuse for not doing so or one of the exceptions apply.
What does a retail shop include?
For the purposes of the Regulations, the following are a non-exhaustive list of examples of what would be a retail shop.
These include but are not limited to a supermarket, grocery store, confectionery, butcher, fishmonger, health shop, perfume shop, electronics shop, clothes shops and shoe shops.
What are the changes for medical and health services?
There will also be an obligation on the public to wear a mask when they are on the premises of a business that provides dental services, opticians, chiropractors, osteopaths or other medical or health services.
The only reasons not wear a mask are if they have a reasonable excuse for not doing so or one of the exceptions apply.
The Regulations already deal with restaurants, cafeterias and bars and there is no change with regard to these if you are going to any of these places to consume food or drink on their premises.
In addition to the changes mentioned above, the Regulations introduce new requirements for establishments that sell food or drink for consumption off their premises.
These apply to takeaways as well as restaurants, cafeterias and bars that offer a takeaway service.
There will be a requirement for anyone who and is going to the premises to order, pay or collect any food or drink which is to be consumed off the premises to wear a mask whilst they are there.
This requirement will only apply to internal areas of the premises and not to any outdoor area or terrace.
Exceptions and reasonable excuses
The standard exceptions and reasonable excuses that apply throughout the Regulations will apply to the businesses mentioned above. They are as follows:
(i) a child who is under the age of 11;
(ii) a police officer acting in the course of his duty; and
(iii) an emergency responder acting in their capacity as an emergency responder.
(b) A reasonable excuse includes when a person–
(i) cannot put on, wear or remove a mask because of any physical or mental illness or impairment or disability;
(ii) is travelling with or providing assistance to another person and they rely on lip reading to communicate with that person; and
is travelling to avoid injury, or to escape a risk of harm and does not have a mask with them.
What happens if you break the rules?
In addition to placing yourself and others at greater risk of catching the virus, failing to comply with the Regulations could lead to receiving a fixed penalty notice of £100 or a fine of up to £10,000 being imposed if proven in court.
What about businesses that are not mentioned in the Regulations?
Any business that does not fall within the scope of these Regulations but wishes to apply the restrictions may
do so through their own internal procedures, however please be advised that those procedures will not be
enforceable by these Regulations.
Mobile testing goes up
The COVID-19 Mobile Swabbing Station has been used more than ever this week as cases rose.
In order to test frontline workers and 111 callers, the authorities have decided they want to keep mobile testing numbers to 150 a day.
“It is vital that those experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 do not attend a Mobile Swabbing Station,” said the government.
“Anyone experiencing loss of taste, loss of smell, loss of appetite, persistent cough, shortness of breath, fever, a sore throat, headache, muscle aches/pains, extreme tiredness, loose bowel motions/upset tummy or any symptoms of a cold should go home immediately, self-isolate and call 111.
“Everyone who is a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 should also go home immediately, self-isolate and call 111.”
All those people who feel they might have caught COVID-19 will be swabbed after ten days of self-isolation, which gives the most accurate result.
After people are swabbed, they should go home straight away and self-isolate until they receive their result.
Results will be given over the phone within 24 hours.
They are urged to wear a mask when queueing at a Mobile Swabbing Station, even if they feel well.
This precautionary measure is the best way to protect yourself and others from asymptomatic spread of the virus.
The public is being asked to download the Beat COVID mobile app and leave it running in the background.
The government described it as ‘a valuable tool for contact tracers’ and it has got rave reviews in the UK press.
“It is up to all of us to act responsibly and control the spread of the virus by following the rules,” said Public Health Minister John Cortes.
“This means that if you have symptoms or are a close contact of someone who has tested positive, you should go home immediately, call 111 and follow the advice of the professionals.
“The Mobile Swabbing Stations and the BeatCOVID app are vital resources that we must use effectively and efficiently to find and
stamp out the virus.”