Chief Minister's Statement - Monday 13th July
Below follows the Chief Minister's statement from this morning’s press conference:
Good morning and welcome once again to No6 Convent Place for our weekly now COVID press conferences.
This morning, I am going to give you a full update on the number of active cases and on the number of tests for COVID-19 carried out in our community to date.
As at today, there is only now 1 active case in Gibraltar.
That person is a visitor to Gibraltar, diagnosed here.
The person is asymptomatic and is in isolation in Gibraltar, given they have no residential address here.
There are no cases in the cross-frontier worker class either.
The total number of swabs taken to test for COVID-19 now amounts to 16,239.
This makes Gibraltar the 1st in the world – top of the league – for testing per million of population.
It has been a huge effort for us to achieve this level of testing, but we have done it with the help and cooperation of our citizens and our healthcare professionals.
Now, only 8 results are pending.
We have therefore already received 16,231 results, of which 16,025 have proved negative and 180 have proved positive.
Of these, 179 are recovered.
Of those over-16,000 tests, 7,329 are swabs taken from our ongoing Frontline Targeted and Systematic Sampling.
There, at the moment, we have 0 pending results.
7,295 of those cases have proved negative.
Our front line, targeted testing programme continues.
And therefore, in light of this aggressive testing regime and these low numbers of prevalence of the virus, we continue the process of de-escalation.
So we will proceed to enter PHASE 6 on Wednesday the 15th July.
We are in good shape to move towards ROCK UNLOCKED on the 1st of August.
This is good news.
But I want to make it clear that we are not unlocking to a free-for-all.
We are unlocking to a new normal.
There will still be rules to comply with in relation to social distancing, self-isolation where appropriate and hand and respiratory hygiene.
We continue to follow the science on the use of masks also.
And it is also important to continue to take special precautions with the elderly – as any of us could be asymptomatic when we approach a member of the elderly cohort.
It is also relevant to remember what is happening in other places where clusters are emerging.
As many of us go away for short holidays, even if we do not go far, we have to remember to observe rules wherever we go and not to inadvertently bring the virus into Gibraltar.
Also, the Government has anecdotal reports of people planning ‘unlock parties’ for the1st August.
Please remember we are not out of the woods yet.
There is a low prevalence of the virus, but one case can spread like wildfire here.
So for us in Gibraltar it is a case of ‘steady as she goes’.
Let me point out to you that at a global level the pandemic is worse and not better.
On Friday, the World Health Organisation reported the highest number of infections in one day with 236,000 reported infections in one day.
So please let us keep our wits about ourselves.
As a community, caution is the tone we have to set.
We have done so well to date, but we must not throw caution to the wind now.
Look at other places and see how quickly things can get worse if we are not careful.
That is why we continue to provide safe times for those eligible for golden hour and silver time at Commonwealth Park, Europa Pool and our Bathing Pavilion.
For as long as there are people who are vulnerable to COVID-19 and who require it, this we will continue to be provided for them.
I know this means a sacrifice being made by others who may not be able to use these facilities at these times, but it is a small sacrifice that we need to make as a community for the benefit of those most vulnerable.
As a result of having moved into Phase 5, certain restrictions were relaxed in relation to team sports.
Authorisation was given for training to be expanded to include attack vs defence drills with contact kept to a minimum in extent and nature with the sessions designed to accommodate these new practices.
Those involved in sports have embraced this progression which has been well run and respected and is very much in keeping with the generally diligent and responsible manner in which activities have been overseen by our registered sports associations.
Therefore, moving into Phase 6, team sports will now be allowed to run small-sided games also.
For the time being competitions in team sports will not be allowed to resume as sessions still need to comply with the regulations restricting gatherings to a maximum of 20 persons.
In addition, a full competitive environment will undoubtedly result in increased physical contact both in nature and time frame so there will be close consultation with Public Health Gibraltar to start considering the return to competition in the future.
The progression through the Phases of the Unlock the Rock roadmap has meant a heightened awareness of sanitation procedures and contact tracing protocols.
The GSLA has now conducted in excess of 30 off-site spot checks, with activities been undertaken at the GSLA facilities also under permanent scrutiny.
I am glad to report that there have only been two instances where the rescinding of allocations or permission to continue activity have had to be considered.
Thankfully, the advice issued was followed, meaning that activities could continue.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank Gibraltar’s sporting fraternity as a whole for the manner in which they continue to conduct themselves and the way in which they continue to work with the GSLA.
They are working within an unnatural sporting environment but the work they are doing with their junior sections in particular is crucial to the retention of children within an active and healthy lifestyle.
Phase 6 will also see the re-introduction of public squash bookings at the Bayside Sports Complex and competitive squash returning at the squash club premises at the Europa Sports Park.
To date, only players who are from the same household have been allowed competitive play at the Europa Sports Park with others only engaging in training sessions.
As with the public padel bookings at the Bayside Sports Complex, all names and contact details will be kept on file for contact tracing purposes for a period of ten days and then destroyed accordingly as required by data protection regulations.
It is also hoped that over the next few weeks we will see a return to the use of Pitches 3 and 4 at the Bayside Sports Complex for 5-a-side football.
Repairs had been scheduled prior to lockdown and these will be completed soon allowing public bookings to start up again.
Use of the Swimming Pool complex has continued to go well and the numbers allowed for public swim jogging bookings have been increased to two per lane, hence 12 per session.
COVID-19 has made the GSLA change the way in which it operates many elements of their day andthe routines for swim jogging by allocation is one of them.
Feedback from staff and the general public alike is extremely positive, hence leading GSLA management to consider implementing this as standard policy moving forward post COVID-19.
As stated in my press conference of the 29th June arrangements at the Accessible Pool have been reviewed.
Effective today, the GSLA’s Stay and Play programme will have exclusive use of the entire facility from Mondays to Fridays from 9am to 1pm.
From 2pm to closing and all day on weekends the following will apply:
Access to the pool specifically will continue to be restricted to those pass holders who, pre-lockdown, were eligible to use the facility for the standard sessions earmarked for users with disabilities.
This includes all indoor changing rooms and toilets. However, the appointment system will be discontinued and the restrictions on numbers in the pool will align with that in all other areas.
That is to say that up to 20 persons will be allowed in the pool at any one time.
Staff will continue to use discretion when allowing siblings into the pool but will only consider genuine cases in order to curtail abuse.
In addition, the outdoor “lido” area will be available as every other summer to those who access the sessions for users with disabilities and those who are in possession of a Senior’s pool pass.
And as we said at the last press conference which I addressed, the Stay and Play programme will use this area in the mornings also so that this too will become available at 2pm on weekdays and all days at weekends.
Use of the facility in general will continue to be closely monitored with changes made where and when necessary.
Finally, from a sports and leisure perspective, I am extremely glad to report that the GSLA’s Stay and Play programme for children with disabilities has started today, earlier this morning.
Whilst it was deemed unfeasible to run the Summer Sports programme, it was felt that the Stay and Play programme could not be a victim of the pandemic.
After extensive consideration a model was developed that will enable the scheme to run whilst considering all public health advice and protocols.
These will be implemented were possible given that the specific needs of those attending will, on many occasions, supersede, for example, social distancing protocols.
To this end, and not to dissimilar from measures implemented in the health care sector, there are extremely strict rules on sanitation including temperature screening to provide as safe an environment as possible with all leaders included in the testing pool also.
Bubbles have been created by appointing leaders to children for the entire length of the programme.
This will provide resilience and ensures that should a positive case be reported, only one group is affected allowing the rest of the programme to continue uninterrupted.
The programme will be delivered in 4 sites on a daily basis with two groups at the Bayside Sports Complex Boathouse Activity Centre and with the remaining three groups at the GSLA Accessible Pool, King’s Bastion Leisure Centre and the Alameda Gardens respectively.
Yesterday, the RGP reported that all beaches saw lower numbers than usual mainly due to red flags flying on the Eastern Side.
Beachgoers kept to social distancing requirements and there were no incidents with bathers.
Additionally, this week we have seen no concerns in respect of behavior at Ocean Village, Casemates or Chatham Counterguard.
In general, there continues to be no tensions with our law enforcement officers.
On the contrary, respect, support and gratitude for what the authorities are doing, continues to be the order of the day.
And I want to end by thanking the vast majority of our citizens for that respect, support and gratitude and to reciprocate with the Government’s gratitude to all for the success we are able to show to date.
But every day continues to be a challenge.
We must not forget that.