Following the gradual increase in positive cases of COVID-19, the COVID-19 Strategic Co-ordinating Group, chaired by the Minister with responsibility for Civil Contingencies Samantha Sacramento MP, has been meeting on a daily basis since Sunday.
Platinum, chaired by the Chief Minister, has been meeting informally daily since Monday.
In light of developments, and in order to continue to contain the situation in Gibraltar, public safety measures will be enhanced. With effect from 00:00 on Friday 21st August, the following changes will come into force:
- Compulsory wearing of masks in retail areas. This extends the already compulsory wearing of masks by staff in shops to all members of the public that enter retail premises. Breaches will be enforced by a fixed penalty notice. Exceptions will apply to people with disabilities or mental illness or in emergency situations. The law will not apply to children under the age of 11, although they are encouraged to do so.
Contact tracing shows that the principal risk at the moment is presented because of the way that people socialise and because they are not keeping to gatherings of less than 20 nor maintaining social distancing. Because of this, conditions in relation to bars and restaurants will be tightened further.
- Curfew at bars and restaurants will be brought forward by an hour. At present, restaurants and bars must shut at 2:00am with last orders at 1:30am. As from this Friday, last orders will be at 12:30am and bars must be shut by 1:00am.
- Bars and restaurants operate on the basis of a permit issued by the Director of Public Health. These permits are subject to conditions, which are designed to keep risk to a minimum. Any premises found not to be complying with the conditions risks the permit being suspended. As from Friday, any bar or restaurant found to be breaching the conditions will also be subject to a fixed penalty notice, that is, an on the spot fine. Additionally, any restaurant that is found to be in breach three times within a period of fourteen days will have their permit revoked and will be required to reapply.
- Any drinking of alcohol in public places that are not licensed areas will be prohibited after 11:00pm and will also be subject to fixed penalty notices.
Legislation will be published by the Minister for Civil Contingencies to this effect and will be published in the Gazette on Thursday.
Gibraltar must also be mindful that celebrations for our National Day this year must be different. Doing our best for Gibraltar means that we must act in the best interests of our community as a whole. Details of measures in this respect will be announced during the course of this week.
The Government reminds everyone that it is our individual and collective responsibility to play our part in ensuring that the situation does not escalate.
Minister with responsibility for Civil Contingencies, Samantha Sacramento, said: “These measures are intended to send a signal not only that we must not let down our guard but that our guard must be up and we must take extra precautions if we do not want the number of positive cases to escalate. It is particularly imperative during this time that we continue to protect our elderly population. It is important that the elderly members of our community are not exposed to any unnecessary risk.”
The Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, said: “We have been very successful in dealing with COVID-19 until now. Numbers are rising in Gibraltar and around us. We need to ensure we stay on top of the spread. These measures are designed to be as un-intrusive as possible. I urge everyone to adhere to these new rules and help us to avoid any unnecessary and inadvertent spread of the virus in our community.”