Chief Minister Fabian Picardo announced the extraordinary measures, which he described as the hardest decision of his career, today, in the face of spiking numbers of cases in Spain, and ten in Gibraltar itself, and which include a ban on associating outdoors with anyone not living in the same household. And, following on from his remarks yesterday, when he criticised “idiotic” young people for continuing to socialise, he warned officers would be empowered to act against anyone failing to comply with the order to avoid congregating in groups and other infringements. Mr Picardo told reporters: “The time has come.
“We have reached another difficult moment in our work to slow down coronavirus COVID-19.
“The Director of Public Health has now advised that as the virus is in the population, the best way to achieve the social distancing required is to slow the disease to move to a total social lockdown.”
Regulations under the Civil Contingencies Act have therefore been signed by the Minister to provide for the lockdown.”
Mr Picardo said the new regulations would come into force at midnight on Tuesday, “in order to give people and businesses time to adjust.
Fabian Picardo has announced a “total social lockdown” of Gibraltar (Image: GETTY)
Fabian Picardo speaking today (Image: HM Government of Gibraltar)
He said the new rules were in addition to existing rules for over 70s, which remain unchanged.
He added: “Agreeing to the making of these regulations has undoubtedly been the hardest decision I have had to make in my political career so far.”
We will not hesitate to do what we have to do in order to slow the spread of the virus.”
Cafes and restaurants may now only offer a takeaway service (Image: PA)
The measures include:
- Closure of schools for all except the children of key workers
- Closure of all shops except supermarkets, grocery stores, pharmacies and chemists
- Closure of all restaurants except as takeaway outlets
- Closure of all commercial gyms
Fabian Picardo during a visit to London last year (Image: PA)
In an acknowledgement of the unique difficulties Gibraltar, which has more than 8,500 residents square mile, faces, Mr Picardo said: “Our demographic circumstances are different to most other nations.
“And our rules are designed to take those aspects of life in Gibraltar into consideration.
“Where necessary, we will review the rules in coming days.”
“Please let us keep focused on slowing down this virus.
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Coronavirus breeding grounds (Image: Daily Express)
Gibraltar’s border with Spain (Image: GETTY)
“Let us remember that failure is not the growth of the number of detected infections.”
Failure is an unnecessary increase in the number of deaths.”
Mr Picardo added: “To each and every one of my fellow Gibraltarians, I say at this time, even if you can do something under these rules, ask yourself if you should.
“You are permitted to go to work, but can you work thematically instead?
“You are permitted to go out for a purpose, but can you can manage in a different way?
Gibraltar factfile (Image: Daily Express)
“Tomorrow, start using your common sense.
“An invisible killer lurks amongst us and you can do your bit to slow its passage through our city by observing these rules.
“As from Tuesday morning, I am very sorry to say, the Royal Gibraltar Police will have power to enforce these regulations.
“We realise the heavy burden that will impose on our officers.
“Please help them by not knowingly contradicting rules that we are putting in place to protect you and your loved ones.
“This is about enhancing social distancing.”
There will be power to enforce these regulations by police officers for these purposes.”
The stringent rules would be reviewed in 30 days’ time, Mr Picardo said, and would be reconfirmed every 48 hours.
He added: “It’s time to brace for the worst and hope or pray for the best.
“These are measures we take with a heavy heart but for very good reason.
“So help us throughout this process.”