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Deep concern on huge increase of cases and great hope as Oxford University/Astrazeneca Vaccine is approved - 941/2020

December 30, 2020

The Government notes that today’s COVID statistics show 180 new positive infections, a total of 714 people presently actively infected and 2,030 presently in self isolation.

This very high number of new positive infections of COVID 19 today emphasises the importance of complying with the restrictions put in place by the Government to prevent the spread of the virus.

The huge numbers of new infections and the huge numbers of people in self isolation are putting massive pressure on the ability of the Government to continue to provide public services.  In particular, there is massive pressure on the 111 and Contact Tracing services as well as the Gibraltar Health Authority and all front line services as a whole.

It is therefore fundamentally important that the public should adhere to the restrictions put in place to prevent the spread of the virus.  These are once again set out in list form at the bottom of this statement.

Today is also a day to celebrate the fact that the United Kingdom Government has accepted the recommendation from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to authorise the Oxford University/AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine for use. This recommendation for approval follows rigorous clinical trials and a thorough analysis of the data by experts at the MHRA, which has concluded that the vaccine has met its strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.  The United Kingdom has already acquired 100,000,000 (one hundred million) doses of the Oxford University / AstraZeneca vaccine.

The UK Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) will shortly now also publish its latest advice for the priority groups to receive this vaccine.  This will be taken into consideration in Gibraltar in order to set our own priority group hierarchy.

The GHA has already developed a vaccine delivery plan for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine that is shortly due to arrive in Gibraltar.  The GHA will also now pursue acquisition of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine and will plan for the roll out of it in anticipation of its arrival in Gibraltar becoming an early reality.

The Chief Minister, the Hon Fabian Picardo QC MP, said: “Today is a day for deep concern and for great hope.  The deep concern comes from the fact that we are seeing huge numbers of new infections of COVID 19 in our community.  These likely do not reflect the effect of the restrictions put in place by the Government last week.  We need to give those restrictions time to take effect before we decide if we need to increase the controls in place.  We have to reserve the possibility that we may need to act quickly to further graduate the restrictions in coming days and weeks.    The great hope comes from the UK MHRA approval of the Oxford University / Astra Zenca vaccine.  Everyone will hope that we will see that vaccine soon become widely available in the UK and through the UK in Gibraltar, alongside the Pfizer vaccine.  For now, we have to rely on people following the Government’s rules and the strong advice from the Government to try to stem the growth of infections and try to reduce the spike of the progress of the virus in our community.  This matters, even though we thankfully have room in our hospital for more cases, because of the effect even the numbers we are seeing now have on our ability to continue to deliver front line services.  So, I ask people to show responsibility and stay home as much as possible, to follow our rules and to follow our strong advice.  We need to curb the growth of the numbers of infections.”



  • On 21 Dec 20, CM announced a range of additional COVID-19 measures and restrictions. A copy of CM’s statement to Parliament can be found here. Key points are as follows:
    • Masks should be worn in every public place.
    • All catering establishments to remain closed until at least 11 Jan 21.
    • Restrictions to apply on entry and movement in all retail establishments.
    • All gyms to close.
    • Government strongly advises that only three households should mix at Christmas in family homes.
    • Government strongly advises that over 70s should act as if they were legally locked down.
    • Golden Hour / Silver Time is cancelled.
    • Religious worship - all in person worship cancelled.
    • Schools likely not to reopen until Mon 11 Jan 21.
    • No socialising / parties in work places.
    • Team A and Team B working systems encouraged.
    • Work from home where possible.
    • Testing of air passengers on arrival.
    • Only essential travel to Spain is recommended.
    • GHA to increase posture to Major Incident.
    • Only priority surgeries / appointments to take place. Routine appointments postponed until further notice.
    • GHA staff leave cancelled.
    • Preparations to re-open Nightingale.
    • ERS visits cancelled until further notice.



  • On 27 Dec 20, CM announced further COVID-19 measures and restrictions which will remain in force until Sun 10 Jan 21. These measures will be reviewed on Thu 7 Jan 21. A copy of CM’s statement can be found here. Key points are as follows:
    • Curfew from 10pm to 6am. Certain exceptions apply. See here.
    • All non-essential retail establishments to close to the public (but may sell online / telephone).
    • Essential shops (e.g. supermarkets, grocers and bakers) to close by 9pm.
    • Hairdressers and beauty salons to close.
    • Pharmacies / chemists, petrol stations, bunkering operators, opticians, dentists, estate agents and car dealerships may remain open subject to strict PH rules.
    • Gatherings reduced to 12.
    • Restrictions at Elderly Residential Homes – Visitors will need a negative COVID-19 test before entry, valid for 24hrs. Max of 2 people permitted for any visit and only one visit per flat per day.
    • Delivery personnel to be swabbed every 2 weeks.
    • Strong advice: Households should NOT mix. However, if absolutely necessary a max of only 2 households should mix.
    • Strong advice: Over 70s – act as if in lockdown.
    • Strong advice: Work from home wherever possible.