THE elderly will be free from lockdown from Monday onwards but the curfew is set to continue until mid-March, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said today.

Schools will re-open on February 22 with the bus service returning to normal on that day and people being able to meet in groups of 12.

Masks will still need to be worn in all areas for the rest of the month with religious services and sports training getting the green light on February 20.

Cafes, bars and restaurants will now look to open on March 1, as planned with BEAT payments applying until then.

Non-essential shops will be able to open on Saturdays from February 20, as well as the rest of the weekdays.

Although Golden Hour will be continued until March 1, Picardo asked the elderly to stay indoors ‘as if in lockdown’.

People are being urged to work from home for the rest of this month when the Gibraltar’s major incident status will end.

Tragedy

The loosening of restrictions comes as the death of the 84th COVID-19 victim was recorded today.

The 60 to 65-year-old man had a long-term chronic condition.

He died of this morning of multi-organ failure and sepsis as a result of COVID-19.

According to the Chief Minister, 53 of the deaths have been in at nursing homes managed by Elderly Residential Services.

The majority of them, 74, died directly from the coronavirus, with ten having had the virus but dying of other causes.

Today, for the first time since this most lethal wave of the pandemic started, there are no active cases at Gibraltar nursing homes.

Despite nine new people being infected with the virus, recoveries have brought the total number of active cases down to 78.

There are now eight patients in the Critical Care Unit, six being ventilated.

At the Victoria COVID-19 Ward seven out of eight patients are stable and recovering.

Warning

Over 23,000 vaccinations have now been made, about two-thirds being first doses and the other third second doses.

Everyone in the at-risk group, frontline staff and all over-60s have been offered or had two doses of the Pfizer jab,

All teachers and frontline staff have now taken the vaccine, with over-50-year-olds now getting appointments.

The news comes as Algeciras and La Linea opened bars, cafes and restaurants after reaching acceptable levels of infection.

However, the Chief Minister urged people not to go into Spain and risk bringing the virus back to the Rock.

“This exercise in unlocking is a balance of risk,” warned Picardo.

“We have an obligation to protect personal freedom and your civil liberties.

“We have a concurrent duty to protect life and to avoid serious illness or injury.

“That balance will only permit the legitimate imposition of restrictions on freedom where we believe that we need to do so to protect the GHA’s ability to provide treatment.

“But we must be clear in our understanding that, as we unlock, we can expect the number of infections to rise.”

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