GSD Says Families Are “Being Ignored by Government”

The GSD says the Government is taking a stance preventing families of unvaccinated individuals from seeing their loved ones in hospital or ERS “for political reasons” and are “refusing to listen to the anxiety they are causing many people.” The party says it is “not justifiable or reasonable” to take that stance given the state of COVID cases in Gibraltar today.

Leader of the Opposition, Keith Azopardi said: “The Government is repeatedly now noting that there are no resident COVID cases in Gibraltar. That is great news. As a society we need to act accordingly and allow freedoms to be restored carefully. What happened to Mr Picardo’s repeated statements that restrictions would not be in place a moment longer than was necessary? If visits are not allowed now for all families when there are ZERO resident cases and 90% of the population is vaccinated when will they be allowed?

“Unvaccinated family members are willing to take precautions and undergo COVID tests. How is it reasonable to impose further restrictions now given where we are with cases and the vaccination programme as a whole? Ways should be found to allow visits for all families safely.

The Guidance on Care Home Visiting published by the UK Government specifically says that vaccinations are not compulsory for visitors. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/visiting-care-homes-during-coronavirus/update-on-policies-for-visiting-arrangements-in-care-homes

It specifically says: “It is not a condition of visiting that the visitor or the resident should have been vaccinated. However, it is strongly recommended that all visitors and residents take up the opportunity to be vaccinated when they are invited to do so through the national programme.”

“This is the case even though there are higher numbers of cases in UK and greater risks in the UK because of the lower vaccination rate. In the UK, 50% of people have received one dose but only 16% of people have received two doses of the vaccine. We are at 90% coverage of the vaccine and therefore much lower risk. Is the UK Government being “unscrupulous” by issuing that Guidance which is what the Government wildly accused the GSD of being for suggesting something similar?

“The fact is that there are no requirements for persons to be vaccinated to enter Gibraltar by land or air. The Government will also soon seek to capture British tourism when travel restrictions are lifted. Some visitors will presumably be unvaccinated. And there are staff members at GHA and ERS who are unvaccinated. The fact that so-called vaccine “passports” may be introduced in the EU does not mean that people will be barred from travelling but rather that being vaccinated will facilitate easier travel. The difference here is that no visits are being allowed at all for unvaccinated individuals in ordinary situations. Saying that visits are organised for “end of life” situations is hardly a substitute. Are the Government saying that unvaccinated families cannot see their relatives till that terrible extreme happens?”

Mr Azopardi added: “As we have consistently said we support the vaccination programme and encourage people to be vaccinated. But if they choose not to they cannot be relegated to a situation where the State places unreasonable obstacles in front of their enjoyment of family life even when there are no cases of COVID in Gibraltar. What may have been justifiable when there was high numbers of cases or risks is not justifiable any longer. Those people and families suffering these restrictions will remember and not forgive the Government’s obstinate policy.”