A 12th person has died of COVID-19 in Gibraltar as the government agreed to pay all staff costs for businesses closed during the lockdown.

The 70 to 75-year-old male casualty had no underlying conditions at that time and died from COVID-19 pneumonia.

He spent around a week at the hospital’s Critical Care Unit after testing positive on December 30.

“It is with great sadness that we once again have to inform you that we have lost another Gibraltarian to COVID-19,” said Chief Minister Fabian Picardo.

“Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this extremely difficult time.”

The Gibraltar Government has announced it will fund all the wages of businesses or self-employed people that have been forced to close.

Those businesses that remain open will be able to claim 40% of their wage bill from the government.

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BEAT 5.0, as the latest scheme is being called, will pay a maximum of £1,155 to workers, no matter if they are Gibraltarian or foreigners.

The government will lower premises rentals to half the normal cost and has asked private landlords to do the same.

Authorities hopes that all businesses will be able to re-open on January 31, after which they will still be provided with 30% of their wage expenses.

Loans will now not need to be repaid for a month and private premises that are empty will not incur rates.

“We believe that affected businesses will welcome these new measures, in particular the increased BEAT payment to 100% and the increased rental discount scheme,” said Minister for Business Vijay Daryanani.

“Taking these measures together, businesses can count on the right support towards their employee costs and other business expenses.”

All these measures are consecutive to the four other BEAT schemes designed to help businesses, especially in the catering sector, survive the pandemic.

“The Government has had to lock down parts of the economy in the interests of containing this health pandemic and preserving life,” said Chief Minister Fabian Picardo.

“This increased financial support package is a result of the advice we took from CELAC and builds on our past experience now with some end in sight.”

COVID-19 cases grew to 1,209 today on the Rock, with 31 people in hospital and 86 elderly home residents testing positive for the virus.

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