THE toughest restrictions since the lockdown have been announced this morning as new cases increased by a record 30 in a day.
Chief Minister Fabian Picardo told a record 3,000 people watching live on social media how serious measures were needed to prevent another lockdown.
Cases jumped to 128 overnight, with all but two being Gibraltar residents.
There are now 31 new cases, with nine people having recovered.
Six of those are now in the Victoria Ward, with no-one now at the intensive care unit.
Three cases were reported among residents at the elderly homes, with five more among staff.
Over 1,000 tests are now being carried out daily, more than five times that of Spain per 100,000 people.
The Nightingale Facility is now on standby to be back in operation within 72 hours as there are only eight ICU beds available.
“The virus is now, once again, all around us,” said Picardo.
“The GHA is presently able to deal with the surge we are experiencing.
“But these numbers can very quickly grow exponentially if the virus remains unchecked.”
Five new cases of COVID-19 have been found at Gibraltar government schools.
Westside School was again the hardest hit, with the sixth and seventh cases discovered there.
Across the courtyard at Bayside School, the fifth case was reported among its users.
The Contact Tracing team is still finding out how many children and staff will be affected at both these senior schools.
Six lunctime staff members were told to self-isolate at St Bernard’s Lower Primary after close contact with the third case there.
At St Anne’s Upper Primary school, three staff members and 22 pupils were sent home to isolate themselves as a third case was found.
The first measure announced was the closure of the elderly homes to visitors with the buildings on lockdown from today.
A Major Incident could now be declared within 24 hours and health services are alert to the possibility.
“From now on, do not kiss, hug or shake hands with persons outside of your home family unit,” said Picardo.
“I know we consider it natural to act in that way,but let us understand that we must change our social behaviour, for now at least.
“And do not let your guard down when you are at work.
“That is where the spread is occurring.”
As a result, the private and public sector is now being urged to return to remote working where possible.
Masks are now advised to be worn in all places outside the home, although it will not be legally necessary.
The elderly are now being asked not to go out except for the essentials and exercise.
Religious meetings could be scaled down, with funerals expected to take place with only the first degree of family present, all wearing masks.
Under new rules being passed in law, the maximum number of people meeting together will go from 20 to 16.
Bars cafes and restaurants will now only be able to have eight people at each table, with numbers of tables reduced too.
There will be no live music, pool or darts at bars or in public spaces.
All tables will need to be booked in advance with detailed information to be provided on contacts.
Any bar without their own kitchen will need to close by 10pm, stopping service an hour earlier.
Last alcoholic drinks will be at 11pm, with only one per person.
Restaurants, bars with kitchens and casinos must close at 1am.
If they are in Chatham Counterguard, bars and restaurants will have to shut at midnight.
Masks must be worn by all unless they are at a table, with less tables allowed than before.
Picardo informed Christmas parties will likely be banned at restaurants, cafes and bars.
New BEAT COVID measures will be announced shortly.
Students returning from UK universities will now all need to be tested on arrival on the Rock and be quarantined for five days.
“Further measures, short of a lockdown, may be required if the numbers of infections are not substantially reduced in coming weeks,” warned Picardo.
“I ask you again for your help to tame this new wave
“But, let me assure you of one thing – we will get through this.
“We will smile again.”