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COVID-19 Press Conference: 20th October 2020 - 733/2020

October 20, 2020


Good afternoon

Welcome all to No 6 Convent Place for another COVID-19 live press conference. 

Before I start on my concerns this afternoon, I am going to give you the updated statistics on the progress of the COVID-19 infection through our Community.

Gibraltar has now carried out 58,608 tests for COVID-19.

That is almost twice our population.

Today, the number of active cases detected is 128.

126 of those are residents of Gibraltar.

The day-on-day increase in the numbers of cases is 31 new positives today.

9 persons have recovered from the infection overnight.

That makes the total number of cases detected in Gibraltar since the start of the pandemic, 608.

The numbers of tests in our Community yesterday was a remarkable 1,066.

The professionals in our labs are doing an incredible job for which I thank each and every one of them on behalf of all of us.

To set that in context you have to recall that in spring we were carrying out a few hundred tests a day.

We are now doing ten times that.

That is more than 350% more testing per 100,000 head of population than the United Kingdom last week.

It is more than 550% more testing per 100,000 head of population than Spain each day last week.

Again, I make these comparisons not to show competitive success.

That is not the nature of the battle against this virus.

We are not competing with anyone in respect of beating this virus.

But it is important that you should know that the infection numbers being reported to you in Gibraltar are more accurately reflective of the prevalence of the virus in this Community than is the level of accuracy in respect of any other place on the planet.

As a result, it is natural that we will find more prevalence of the virus in Gibraltar. We are doing more tests per head of population.

But having found that prevalence, we must deal with it.

And the most important things to note about the numbers I am reporting to you today are the following two key factors:

Firstly, the very high number of positives we are reporting today.

Let’s not pretend otherwise.

Thirty new cases in one day is a very large number of new positives and it must give us all reason to pause for thought.

The virus is now, once again, all around us.

Community transmission is an undeniable reality.

Secondly, the other important factor to note in today’s numbers is the inexorable growth of the numbers of people who are now in our hospital wards.

Those numbers are growing.

There are 6 persons in Victoria Ward. 

The numbers will ebb and flow, but the number is going up.

Today, there is no one in the Intensive Care Unit, because the condition of the patient there has improved overnight and they have been passed over to the Victoria Ward.

We wish all patients all the very best.

The GHA is presently able to deal with the surge we are experiencing.

The numbers we are seeing today have not yet overwhelmed our ability to provide care in our health authority for those who need it, when they need it.

But these numbers can very quickly grow exponentially if the virus remains unchecked.

The best evidence of that is the growth just on one day – today – by over 30 newly infected persons.

Remember - that is the highest number of day-on-day growth we have ever recorded.

Yesterday, I therefore instructed the Minister for Health to gear up the re-opening of the Nightingale Ward at Europa at short notice.

In light of the growing numbers, at the Platinum Command level, I also instructed that the re-opening of the first part of the Nightingale Unit should be put now at 72 hours notice.

We will ensure that Nightingale will be available within 72 hours if the GHA needs it.

But our current availability of ICU beds is only 8 today.

ICU could be overwhelmed if numbers start to increase as we are predicting could be the case.

For that reason, I have further instructed that the GHA should be ready to deploy the additional ICU facility within 24 hours of the Minister for Health’s decision to re-open it.

This facility will be housed once again, in the day surgery unit.

We will nonetheless seek to maintain day surgery as long as is possible.

Day surgery will therefore continue to be carried out but, if it becomes necessary to convert the day surgery suite into a second ICU if numbers increase, then day surgery will be cancelled almost overnight. 

The very bad news today is that three of the new positive reported are ERS residents at the John Mackintosh Wing.

Five members of the staff in ERS facilities are also positive.

As a result, and with a very, very heavy heart therefore, as from today, all visits to ERS facilities are once again prohibited.

Elderly Residential Services will be in LOCKDOWN as from today.

I know how painful it will be to be prevented from seeing loved ones in ERS.

I can only apologise to you for having no choice but to impose this restriction.

It is administratively burdensome for the nurses and carers as many family members are the best carers of their relatives.

But we really have no choice.

In ERS, the reality is we are dealing with a matter of life and death for the residents in our care if we do not act, and we will not let them down by not acting.

I guarantee you that this restriction, and all restrictions I will refer to today, will not be in place for a moment longer than is strictly necessary.

I ask you to please ensure that if you do have a relative at ERS, you provide the support necessary to our great staff at ERS over this issue. They are so ably led by Antonio Marin and Susan Vallejo who have demonstrated their commitment and care for the residents of ERS.

For all of these reasons, I am putting the GHA now on 24 hours notice for the declaration of a MAJOR INCIDENT in the event that the Minister for Civil Contingencies and I consider that such a declaration should become necessary.

We will not declare a major incident until it is absolutely necessary, but we have to be ready for it as numbers grow if we do not manage to supress the current curve.

It is in trying to achieve this suppression that the work of the Contact Tracing Bureau is hugely important in tracking down infected persons.

I want to thank those in our CTB on behalf of all of this Community for the absolutely brilliant job that they are doing.

The CTB data shows that the main spread is in the home and in the workplace.

And the measures we will announce today will be designed to address those vectors.

That is why we are acting.

We are acting today because we are fighting to keep schools open.

We are acting today to ensure that we do everything possible to avoid having to lock down Gibraltar again or to shut our economy again.

We are acting today because we do not want to have to move to further restrict freedoms and civil liberties.

And we will only act where we are advised that we have to.

Yesterday the COVID-19 Platinum Command met and received advice from the Director of Public Health and the Commissioner of Police.

Yesterday morning, I had consulted with Cabinet colleagues to consider the approach to the further restrictions we are going to put in place today.

None of these decisions have been taken lightly.

I have today also consulted with the Leader of the Opposition and with Ms Hassan Nahon to take on board their views also in relation to these measures.

These measures are necessary and proportionate in order to address the current resurgence of the virus in Gibraltar.

So please understand that everything I am about to announce, I announce as a matter of necessity because of the advice of our public health professionals.

None of this is done on a whim.

None of this is done without doing our best to think it through on the basis of a cost benefit analysis of each measure.

And none of this is of our choosing.

The advice we receive is updated constantly as science learns more and more about the virus.

For that reason, and in order to avoid a further LOCKDOWN, you must now help us by following all of the relevant advice.

Please stick strictly to the public health advice.

Please observe social distancing.

I know you are sick of hearing this message.

But you may get very sick if you don’t heed this message.

Please refrain from interpersonal contact. 

I refuse to bring a law that says you cannot kiss, hug or shake hands.

But PLEASE from now on, do not kiss, hug or shake hands with persons outside of your home family unit.

I know we consider it natural to act in that way, but let us understand that we must change our social behaviour, for now at least.

And do not let your guard down when you are at work.

That is where the spread is occurring.

COVID-19 Officers in the work place need to help us to emphasise the message of caution in the work place.

And if you are at work and you need to self-isolate and your sick pay is affected, I will soon be announcing a new BEAT measure agreed in CELAC to assist employees and employers.

Remember also that if you are in close contact with your workmates without social distancing, the consequences could be that everyone in your area at work may have to go into self-isolation.

Office workers in the private sector who are able to do so, are from now strongly advised to consider returning to work from home where possible.

In the public sector, the Chief Secretary will be starting a process of establishing remote working with team splits where necessary.

If you travel this school Mid-term please contact 200 41818 upon your return to organise a screening test.

Please pay particular heed to the following additional measures.

First, I am going to go through a number of things that we will now STRONGLY ADVISE.

Then, I will go through legal changes which will be enforceable though compulsion of law.



WE STRONGLY ADVISE that those who are over 70 or who are immunosuppressed should not leave their homes unless it is necessary to work, to shop for essentials, to exercise under gold or silver hour, or for other essential purposes.

If you need help with supplies, call us on 200 41818 and we will assist.

WE STRONGLY ADVISE that those who are over 70 or who are immunosuppressed who do leave their homes, should wear masks at all times when in public places.

The evidence now suggests that the wearing of masks reduces the viral load you give off and it reduces the viral load you become infected with. 

WE STRONGLY ADVISE that whatever your age, when you are in Main Street, Irish Town or other areas where people accumulate and cannot keep social distance, that persons of all ages above the age of 10 should wear masks.

WE STRONGLY ADVISE against attendance at funerals other than by the first degree direct relatives of the deceased.

WE STRONGLY ADVISE against attendance at communal worship where social distancing cannot be observed. 

We are liaising with faith leaders to address these issues again as we did in the spring and to ask the public service broadcaster to also liaise with faith leaders to bring the broadcasting of services back to our television screens for those for whom it is relevant.  Restrictions will be put in place in respect of the numbers of persons who can attend places of worship.

If you do attend a funeral, a place of worship or any other communal event, YOU ARE STRONGLY ADVISED TO WEAR A MASK.



Additionally, beyond that strong advice, the public health emergency caused by COVID-19 continues to present a requirement for legislation under the Civil Contingencies Act.

The first legislation we passed, in February, recited 40,000 people being infected globally and 900 deaths.

The regulations that we will pass on Thursday will refer to over 40 million cases worldwide now, some 8 months later and over 1.1 million people dead.

That is a 100,000% increase in cases in 8 months.

122,000% increase in deaths in 8 months.

That is absolutely staggering.

And it helps put into context any notion that COVID-19 is just an ordinary flu.

As a result, the following legal measures will therefore be the subject of legislation in Thursday’s Gazette and will come into effect as from midnight on Friday:

The maximum number of people who will be able to gather in an organised way will be decreased.

This number will initially be reduced from 20 to 16.

This obviously negatively affects the right of freedom of assembly protected under the Constitution, but we are advised specifically by the Director of Public Health that reducing the numbers of people gathering is the most sensible way to proceed.

In respect of Catering Establishments, principally Bars, Cafeterias and Restaurants the following new rules will apply:

The maximum number of persons who can sit at one table in a restaurant will be reduced from 10 to 8.

There will be no live, public, musical performances at bars, restaurants or cafeterias.

Indeed, such performances will be restricted in their entirety other than by express permission of the Director of Public Health.

I want to thank the Musicians Association of Gibraltar for their hugely uplifting work in the past period of the pandemic. 

They will no doubt continue to work well with us and our Public Health authorities as we try to continue to have music in our lives, even in a slightly more restricted way for now.

And if you will permit me a short aside, I want to express my condolences to the family of the great talent that was Neville Guilliano, who passed away so very young at the weekend. 

He is a great loss to the local music scene.

The total number of tables permitted by the Environmental Agency at any restaurant under a permit issued via the Office of Civil Contingencies Coordinator will be reduced to a ratio of 1.5 metres per person in their useable common area.

Everywhere, tables will have to continue to be booked in advance.

Detailed information of all persons at tables will have to be kept to facilitate the work of the Contact Tracing Bureau.

Last orders for alcoholic drinks will be brought forward to 11pm.

Only one alcoholic drink per person at a table will be permitted at last orders.

Restaurants will be able to continue to close at 1am.

And the same rule will apply to bars with their own kitchen.

But any bars, pubs or clubs that do not have their own kitchen will be required to stop service by 9pm. 

Such establishments must close by 10pm.

The operation of Casinos will now be subject to the same rules as bars and restaurants and they will have to close also by 1am.

Additionally bars, clubs and other establishments will not be able to offer the use of pool tables or darts facilities for now.

These will have to be blocked off so that they cannot be used by patrons.



In the leisure area at Chatham Counterguard, new and specific restrictions will be required.

I want to thank the restauranteurs in this area for their support and observance of rules.

Some patrons have, however, not observed rules of social distancing and consumption of alcohol.

For that reason, tighter restrictions will be applied to catering establishments in that area, as follows:

At Chatham Counterguard, all restaurants will have to close one hour earlier than elsewhere, at midnight.

Wearing of masks will also be mandatory in the leisure area of Chatham Counterguard except when sat down at a restaurant table. 

Signs will illustrate where the area starts and ends.

Additionally at Chatham Counterguard, capacity  will be determined to a ratio of 3 metres per person in their useable external common area.

Also at Chatham, only persons sat at tables will be permitted to be served.

I do not want to add to how bleak my message is today, but it is my obligation to warn you also that it is unlikely that organised Christmas parties will be permitted this year in restaurants, bars or elsewhere.

Believe me, if you hate hearing that – I hate saying it.

But we have to be realistic.

If things change, that would be a very happy surprise indeed.

But let us not pretend that things are likely to be fine, when they are likely not to be.

Yet let us do everything we can to protect all our  loved ones so that we are all well at Christmas and able to celebrate, even if not as closely together as we might have wished.

Finally, two more matters that the law will also provide for.

The first will be that any organisation that requires an AGM for year 2020/2021 shall not be required to have it.  This will assist any office holders of any organisation who consider that they may be in breach of their statutes.

Testing for students who return to Gibraltar will now also become mandatory, as universities have become clear vectors of infection.

This will apply to any person who is on a scholarship from the Department of Education who is returning to Gibraltar.

Students should therefore be in touch with 200 41818 to be tested on arrival in Gibraltar and they will have to quarantine for 5 days.

This will also mean that their contact with elderly loved ones will also be safer.

I hope everyone will understand that these measures are designed to try to avoid a new lockdown.

To avoid a circuit breaker or sharp shock being required.

But further measures – short of a lockdown – may be required if the numbers of infections in our community are not substantially reduced in coming weeks.

We therefore anticipate further action if the measures we are taking today are not having the required effect.

I also want to emphasise that there is no blame in having the virus.

So when you are contacted by the Contact Tracing Bureau your honesty is the key antidote to stop the strand of infection that passes through you.

Please be honest, open and frank with the Contact Tracing Bureau.

If you are not, you are failing Gibraltar and your fellow Gibraltarians.

Because, my dear fellow Gibraltarians,

My dear fellow residents of Gibraltar and those who work amongst us and live close to us.

I really do not want to do this.

But we have no choice.

We have no desire to interfere with your basic freedoms and your civil liberties.

But a failure to act now would be a gross dereliction of my duty to you and to your loved ones.

A failure to act now would lead to an inexorable rise in numbers in coming days

So I ask you again for your cooperation.

I ask you to help us tame this new wave.

I ask you to help us to stop this surge.

To help us suppress the prevalence of the COVID-19 infection in our Community.

Because, this will be an autumn where no matter how many leaves fall, we will not allow any of our compatriots to fall without a fight.

An autumn of inconvenience, as we work towards as normal a Christmas as possible.

But the confluence of Brexit and this increase in COVID-19 infections is presenting a bleak outlook.

Last year, when we won the election, Brexit seemed like the biggest challenge we were facing.

Yet, we now know that what lurked around the corner was worse than what was advertised.

But, let me assure you of one thing.

We will get through this.

Just like we did in the winter and spring of the first part of this virus.

Just like we got through the EU withdrawal process that was the first part of Brexit.

We will get through these challenges together.


With our steely determination.

And with the discipline we will need to stick to the rules.

I assure you that my government’s energy and ability will not be found wanting when it comes to either.

I assure you of my total commitment to the work required in the Brexit negotiations to ensure a good outcome for Gibraltar without any crossing of our red lines on sovereignty, jurisdiction or control.

And I assure you that we will do that whilst we continue to work on all matters related to the control of the pandemic in Gibraltar.

Of that I know you need have no doubt.

We will be resilient in supporting each other.

And we will be resilient in our representation of you.

And as we move once more to fight this virus, remember:

We will prevail. 

We will smile again.

And one day, not long from now, COVID-19 will be the nightmare we woke from and Brexit will be the nightmare we tamed.

With that hope, let me ask you once again for your support at this crucial time.

I need each and every one of you as part of Team Gibraltar to help us pull through this together.

Because this nation, united, will never be defeated.

Now, I look forward to taking questions from media colleagues here at No 6 Convent Place this afternoon.

Press Questions

Jonathan Scott - GBC Good afternoon, Chief Minister. Jonathan Scott for GBC. Regarding the ERS measures, has the Contact Tracing Bureau established that the virus got into the ERS, John Macintosh Wing and the other establishments. But in this case, John Macintosh Wing, did it get that through visitors? Is that the suggestion?

Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo - So the process is one that is live at the moment. Contact tracing is actually happening in respect of those three cases. They were reported late last night, very late last night. And the contact tracing is happening right now. We know in ERS that there are people that we have to have there, those who work to care for our loved ones in Elderly Residential Services. And we know that there are people who we wish to see come to our facilities but who do not have to come to our facilities. And that is only one class of persons. That is the families who are visitors, who are the ones that we can exclude to ensure that we cut down the risk that they are the ones bringing in the virus. So, we will have results from the Contact Tracing Bureau. In the past we have seen contact tracing tell us that the vectors are both the employees - the nurses and carers at ERS - and the visitors. But there is only one set that we can exclude. We have the ability to look back to the spring and show that the exclusion of visitors is one of the factors that led to the great success that we have had in our care homes. We've lost no one to COVID-19 in our care homes, indeed in the whole of Gibraltar. So you'll excuse me for thinking that is the right approach today again.

Jonathan Scott - GBC And for a family member who would say that losing a loved one is obviously the worst case scenario, but it is not the only measure of a deterioration in a loved one. What would you say to them when their visit is so important?

Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo  That their visit is not just to their loved one, it's to a facility which includes the loved ones of many others who are in the custody, care and control of the Government of Gibraltar and we have to make a decision for everyone. It's very painful. It's painful for those who understand that this is the right thing to do. I assume it's even more painful for those who might not share a view that this is the right thing to do, but we are in loco parentis in respect of those who are our residents. And unfortunately, this is the decision that we are advised we must make. I've told you that it is not administratively easy for us to exclude relatives; relatives, a great assistant, also, in the context of the care of individuals at ERS. Many relatives have assumed for themselves bringing food for their relatives, feeding them during the day, in particular, those that cannot feed themselves, excluding them means that we will have to take on that responsibility also in ERS. So this is not something that we do willy-nilly and because it's easier for us to exclude relatives, it is hard for us to exclude relatives. It is emotionally hard for relatives to be excluded. It is emotionally hard for the residents to have their visitors excluded. This is not a decision that is taken lightly, but it is a decision that has to be taken, and that is what Government is about. It's about having to take decisions like these.

Jonathan Scott - GBC And finally, Chief Minister, in that respect, would there be any exceptions? Are you anticipating any exceptions to that rule?

Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo  So the way that we operated in the period in the spring and early summer when we had to act, was that when people were at end of life, we used the isolation facility in order that you might be able to have access to your loved ones if there was an end of life issue and other exceptions which may be relevant, for example, if somebody is receiving medical attention because they are medically ill, but we can keep them away from the hospital, we may be able to assist them by using the isolation facilities if nobody else is using them and they may be able to have visitors from their family in those circumstances. Again, Antonio Marin and Susan Vallejo will do whatever they can to assist family members in circumstances which are particularly acute. But we have to understand that this is a rule that is being brought in for a purpose and challenging the purpose does not assist us to achieve the overall objective, which is to save life.

Gabriella Peralta - Gibraltar Chronicle Gabriela Peralta, The Chronicle. You mentioned Christmas. So how long are we going to expect for these restrictions to be in place? Are we looking into the restrictions continuing into the New Year?

Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo  So, look, the whole thing is constantly under review. I would expect, you know, we're going to bring these measures in on Thursday. We'll start to see the effect of these measures within 7 and 14 days after that. If the measures are having an effect which is satisfactory, we will continue with them. If they're having an effect which is not satisfactory we'll have to up the ante. As they have the effect which is satisfactory, we may be able to draw back on them. On the horizon is the possibility of a vaccine. That is the reality that we're dealing with because of the moment in which we are living, because of the prevalence of colds alongside the virus and the need to test a lot of people. We are therefore identifying a lot of the virus that's making our numbers go up. Once we are on enquiry and on notice of those numbers, we have to act to protect the GHA. So it's a bit of a vicious circle. We are stuck with this problem for as long as it continues to manifest and it will continue to manifest until we have, through science, the ability to either cure it or to make ourselves immune to it with the vaccine.  I am almost repeating the things that you would have heard me say during the course of press conferences in the spring. We're now in the mid-autumn period and we haven't yet got confirmation of a vaccine. When the vaccine comes if enough members of our community take it, then we might be in a better situation. If the vaccine comes and we don't have enough members of our community take it, then we might still be in just as bad a situation. But will the vaccine come? Those are issues that we are all wrestling with. There is no science that is being made available to the government that I am not sharing with you, and therefore, there is no easy answer to your question.

Gabriella Peralta - Gibraltar Chronicle Do you think people would take a vaccine if it was available?

Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo Well, look, it'll be a matter down to the individual. The Government's not going to make the vaccine mandatory. But, you know, people used to take vaccines without any concerns in the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s and then one bloke decided that he'd try and make his name by suggesting that vaccines were causing autism. He drove everyone bananas on the issue. He made his name on it. People started to then regress into thinking that vaccines might not be a good thing. In other words, we started to not trust science, which is what has made us modern. And as a result, there are now people who say that they wouldn't take vaccines because they don't trust doctors and they don't trust science. I think that's retrograde. I will be taking the vaccine when it comes, but I'm not going to force anyone to take the vaccine. I think it is sensible to take a vaccine, especially if there's a community purpose in taking it, because if only I take the vaccine, that doesn't help our community. We need to have a majority of people take the vaccine. These are modern problems that we have in the world with people challenging science. I mean, this is literally going back to the drawing board and saying, are you sure that the earth is round? I'm frankly not going to have much patience for people who take that attitude.

Joe Cortes - The New People Joe Cortes from The New People. You mentioned that honesty is the key antidote for the virus. How can one ensure that there is honesty from the people who've got the virus?

Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo  So I think the key factor here is to appeal to people's sense of honour and patriotism. People who have to understand and I emphasise now in a number of my interventions, there is no blame in having the virus. If you've got the virus, look, you may have caught it from a handle in the street, you may have caught it from somebody who was walking past you, you may have got it for a myriad reason. There is no blame in catching the virus. There's no suggesting that you haven't followed the rules just because you manifest with the virus. But what you have to do is help us call everyone who you may have been in touch with so that we can shut that strand down and people then will need to go into self isolation, although it may be a drag or that may interfere with their social life, it may interfere with their work life. But what they're going to do is they're going to protect the rest of their community by going into self isolation. So you need to tell us the truth about who you've been with so that we can identify those people and be in touch with them. They have to go into self isolation. Look, there may be some reasons why people feel abashed about not telling the truth. They may be seeing somebody who they should not be seeing for whatever reason, whether it's professional, personal or political. You never know what's going on in the background. But the Contact Tracing Bureau is not going to be in touch with your employer to say that you've been, you know, in contact with the head of another workplace in order to negotiate better terms. We're not going to be in touch with your family to say that you've been in touch with somebody who shouldn't be in touch with or we're not going to be in touch with the leader of your political party to say that you were having discussions with another leader of another political party. That's not what we're talking about. You know, the data is safe with us. We're just trying to run down the strand of people who you may have been with in order to protect you and to protect them. That's why the honourable, the patriotic thing to do is to share the information so that we can run down that strand of the virus and shut it down through isolation.

Joe Cortes - The New People Obviously, there is some evidence that the people are not being honest.

Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo  There is evidence of people dissembling when the Contact Tracing Bureau had been in touch with them and even the Contact Tracing Bureau being convinced that people are not being honest. It is an offence not to keep to isolation if you have been required to be in isolation. But look, we're not going to be able to pursue people through the Contact Tracing Bureau in cross-examination and then charge them with perjury if they don't tell the truth. I mean, that is just not realistic. But people have to tell the truth, have to understand the importance of telling the truth and the value to Gibraltar that they are telling the truth. So if you are a Gibraltarian patriot, you know, it's time to wear your heart on your sleeve and tell the truth if the Contact Tracing Bureau is in touch with you.

Giordano Durante - YGTV Good afternoon. A question from YGTV.  Chief Minister, you said that the Contact Tracing Bureau had identified two areas in people's lives where the virus has been transmitted most in Gibraltar, and that's the workplace and at home. But yet the legal measures you have announced primarily target the catering restaurant and entertainment industry. First, why is that? And secondly, did your Government consider any legal measures to affect the mixing of household and how many people you can visit, like in the UK.

Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo So if you look at what's happening, I mentioned the two most important vectors. They are the home and the workplace. They represent about half of the vectors of infection that have been identified. The other half are not at large. Principally, they relate to socialisation and socialising. So we need to shut down that socialising a little more. Not entirely. That's what we're trying to avoid. We're trying to avoid complete shutdown. But those are vectors that we can better control. In the workplace, we're going to be doing a lot with the COVID-19 officers. Remember that workplaces have opened because they have designated the COVID-19 officer. And so the COVID-19 officers are going to be the place through, or rather the channel through which we bring more control into the workplaces, reminding people that when you're in the kitchen making the coffee, you shouldn't be relaxing. You know, when you're getting up from your desk, if you're in a desk job, you have to be mindful of what you're doing. And if you are in a different kind of job, you have to be mindful of what you're doing. And in the home, yes, it's possible to consider to prevent the mixing of households, but it is difficult to do that in the context of the legislative framework that we want to put together short of lockdown or as close to lockdown as possible. And we're trying to do it in this particular way through strong advice, in respect of what you should be doing when you're out and about. And if that doesn't work, we will have to further up the ante. But we're are seriously trying because the GHA is able to deal with the numbers manifesting, we are seriously trying to interfere as little as possible with life as we know it. And, you know, telling people that they that they can't mix it all, etc. makes some sense. But, of course, if you're mixing at work and you're mixing in schools, then not mixing, as you might in a way that is socially distant in keeping with the rules, makes less sense. It's not something that's catching when two households are mixing, it's catching in your household, when you're home, when you're relaxed and look, it would be nonsensical for us to make a law that says that you have to wear your mask at home because it would be impossible to enforce. And therefore, what is the point? But that's where you're going to catch it. And you have to be careful at home as well. And that's why we're giving the information.

Olive Press Thanks, everyone. I'm going to read a question from the Olive Press. Is there any evidence of the spread being greater among young people who are ignoring social distancing in situations like those witnessed at Chatham Counterguard last Friday?

Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo The answer is that there is evidence of socialising causing some vectors of contagion. But there isn't anything which is telling us clearly that there is an age related issue. Yes, there is more of it happening in the younger age group. But you can't connect that age group to any particular activity because the people who might've caught it might not have been the people that you've seen in some of the videos doing the rounds. They might have been somewhere else. So we shouldn't pretend to connect the dots in a way that is just lazy and based on what we might see on social media. We have to look at the science and look at where the science is telling us about those dots and act on that basis.

Olive Press Thank you, Chief Minister. I have just got one further question from the Olive Press. Do the high cases at schools indicate further measures will be taken as they continue to rise?

Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo  So I don't think that there are high cases in schools. If you look at the numbers of people that there are in schools, I mean, we've got about 4 or 5 thousand children in schools. We've got about 400/500 teachers in schools. And we've got about another 500 other support staff in schools from LSA's to caretakers, cleaners, all the support staff, technicians, etc. So, frankly, I think the numbers manifesting in the schools are quite low in the context of the school population. And therefore, I think that we are doing well in the work that we're doing in tracing through whenever there is a case in the schools. You know, I know that may be difficult when your son or daughter is the pupil sent home, may be difficult when you are the technician or support staff member or teacher sent home and you're in self isolation. But, better that we have 20 or 30 people at home and we still have 5000 people in school and at work. Which means that you can have the rest of the population also at work, because if we had to send every child back home, that more or less grinds your economy to a halt because people need to provide to look after their children, etc, etc. And I think, therefore, that the Department of Education, the teachers, the support staff in the schools, the parents are doing an absolutely magnificent job. And frankly, the pupils aren't doing badly either.

Jonathan Scott – GBC Chief Minister, you mentioned further BEAT measure, but I'm not sure if I understood what that is. I'm not sure if you said exactly, but we know that Unite the Union has called for leave entitlement to account for the fact that people are asked to self isolate and to try and encourage people to be as honest as possible, which we know you said is sometimes being a problem. Is that what you're looking at?

Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo  Yes, I think Unite have called for that as a result of the meetings we've had, etc. I haven't yet been able to announce the measure because it's being drafted in a way that is particularly precise. I mean, the measure like that can be open to abuse. Therefore, it has to be tested with draftsmen etc., to ensure that it's going to do what it says on the tin. I haven't socialised that measure yet with the Opposition, which I want to have an opportunity to do once I've got it in legal text. But essentially what it will do is it will save you if you've run out of sick days because you've been doing self isolation or if you have had another reason why you've been certified sick in the private sector and you then have to self isolate, you need to have a certificate for self isolation and you'll have an additional up to 14 days to provide for that facility. And the way that that will be paid for will be by a grant from the Government at a particular amount, which I'm just going to ensure is fixed at the right amount that we agreed in CELAC.

Gabriella Peralta - Gibraltar Chronicle On the measures, will there be any more measures for the catering industry considering now that they might be losing business as their business now have to shut earlier?

Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo  So the Minister for Business, Vijay Daryanani, who's also the Minister for Tourism and Transport, as you know, met today with a Gibraltar Catering Association. I haven't yet had a briefing on the outcome of that meeting. There are issues which, of course, are affecting the Gibraltar Catering Association. We have to calibrate whether they're being more affected than the retail industry, for example, or other industries. You know, times is hard all over, and we've got to ensure that we don't single out one particular industry, although we are singling out in respect of controls. But that we don't single them out in the respect of support unless it is demonstrated that there is a good reason for that. Look, I can also tell you that is very difficult to get a reservation in Gibraltar for Sunday lunch. You can call a number of restaurants and very many are entirely fully booked. Are they doing better or worse than they're doing at other times? Well, they'll tell you that they have half the capacity. So this is, you know, swings and roundabouts. We have to get to the right answer. I'm not ruling anything out, Vijay Daryanani is talking to the catering association. And I'm sure that will come to an agreement about what is best or at least we will be able to make a determination on behalf of the taxpayer of what we think is best.

Gabriella Peralta - Gibraltar Chronicle And separately, you strongly advised for the wearing of masks, but how come it hasn't been made compulsory like in other countries?

Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo  So if you look at what's happening in other countries where it is compulsory, it's hardly a success story, is it? I mean, you look at Belgium, Spain, France where wearing masks as compulsory and it's not as if they're there having any better results in the controlling of the virus. But some of the science is telling us that there is less viral load passed. So although you see numbers not in any way decreased by the wearing of masks, you see that the infection that is passed is lower and the infection that you take if you're wearing a mask is lower. Because we cannot make the decision because the Director of Public Health has not given us the advice that we must require the wearing of a mask. And remember, I explained during the early period of the pandemic how our law works. If we're going to require you to do something on the basis it's a public health requirement, we have to be told on public health grounds that it must be done and that must stand up to scrutiny when we test the advice so that we can then derogate from the Constitution to require you to do something which is usually in breach of your civil liberties. You don't have to do things unless the law requires it and the law cannot require unless it's proportionate. For all of those reasons were going down the route of strong advice. I can tell you that this morning we were considering actually making it a legal requirement that 70 year olds should have to wear their masks by compulsion of law. Do we really think that particular cohort, who are the ones most likely to follow strong advice, need to be compelled by law and those who do not wish to be compelled by advice might not be compelled even by law, and would then be subject to fixed penalty notices? Part of this is also calibrating what sort of society we want to be and how far we want to go down the route of compelling people to do things which we are telling them to do for their own good, when that has not yet started to interfere with the common good. In other words, we don't yet have a GHA which is unable to cope. Right. We might see that that could start to happen if these measures don't have an effect. If we do see that these measures not having effect, the GHA starting to look like it may not be able to cope, then we have to really ramp up the measures, bring the compulsion of law, require everyone, whether or not they like it for their own good, to do the things that we require them to do, because then we're acting in the common good. And all of that is in the balance every day that we have to make a decision about these issues.

Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo  So, ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for joining us this afternoon at Number Six Convent Place. Frankly, I look forward to the day when we no longer have to hold these press conferences but unfortunately, I expect I shall be addressing you again soon in respect of these measures. I do hope I shall have slightly better news the next time I address you, but I won't pretend that it is possible that I might not. Thank you very much for listening today. Thank you for joining us. And please, please follow the public health advice, in particular, the advice we are giving strongly. Observe the rules of social distancing. Wash your hands, cut your interpersonal contact and be aware of what the legal rules that we're bringing in on Thursday are. Thank you very much for joining us.