Together Gibraltar Responds To New COVID Measures

Together Gibraltar have said that the new measures recently announced by Government are in line with those that they "previously advocated for".

A statement from the Government follows below:

Together Gibraltar believes that the measures taken by Government are in line with those that we previously advocated for, and in line with the now extensive and definitive evidence in favour of mask use. What we do not quite understand is the seeming haphazardness of the measures, in what seems like an obsession to do things a little bit differently than the rest of the world. We believe there are elements of populism to the way things are been done, trying to pacify sceptics by implementing half measures instead of whole ones, and devising complex policies that are hard to understand, awkward to enforce and extremely difficult to communicate. For example, advising, and then mandating a week later, or mandating masks in some busy areas but not others. This is already causing problems for our law enforcement, confusing our citizens, and fuelling a dangerous debate around the adequacy and coherence of our Covid protocols. Many of the territories that have implemented widespread mask use have now developed a culture of mask wearing (which, has existed in some Asian countries now for many years), and have moved on from futile political debates on issues that should solely be decided on using public health criteria.

Party Leader Marlene Hassan Nahon said: “I believe the reluctance to accept mask use is puerile at best, selfish at worst, and that it really is a small price to pay to mitigate the spread. Taking on this relatively small inconvenience in order to protect the more vulnerable among us, when we juxtapose it what we have endured as a people, requires the very unique community spirit which has seen us through the toughest of times in our history. Mask wearing is a measure that does not have negative health impacts, nor does it affect the economy negatively if implemented wisely (we understand masks cannot be worn by everyone - there are vulnerable collectives such as people with disabilities, respiratory conditions, mental health issues, small children etc.)” 

Yet both GSD and the GSLP/Libs continue to politicise this issue, with Government changing already confusing protocols weekly and the GSD making populist arguments and conflating them with other petty political issues, such as the pedestrianisation of Chatham Counterguard. Politicians should have understood by now that these issues should be decided by scientists and public health specialists who have the expertise and knowledge to handle the situation, yet they insist on politicising the pandemic. When Mr. Azzopardi says lockdown measures should be implemented only when the GHA is under pressure he is showing little appreciation for the potential suffering of the affected citizens, healthcare workers on the ground, and most importantly, he is failing to understand fundamental scientific facts: Hospitalisations occur weeks after the problem emerges, and measures take several weeks to have an impact. In the meantime, spread occurs exponentially, meaning acting when already under pressure could mean acting too late.

The recently released EU common criteria and thresholds for pandemic control state that an area is considered red, and therefore susceptible of implementing drastic measures if the total number of newly notified COVID-19 cases is more than 50 per 100,000 during a 14-day period AND the percentage of positive tests from all COVID-19 tests is 3% or more. In the last month we have far exceeded the case threshold. Our numbers show it is time to act firmly to curb the spread, but we need to make sure we damage our economy as little as possible. Mask use is one of the best ways of doing just that. In terms of the talk about general lockdowns, we believe that those decisions should come from our public health authorities, who should be making those calls on the basis of established science, not the political class.