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Government Legislates to Protect the Elderly - 194/2020

March 16, 2020

The whole Government met in Cabinet this morning for over three hours in order to take a number of policy decisions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Given the extraordinary situation, the larger part of the meeting saw the attendance of a number of office-holders who would not normally be present. These were the Chief Secretary Darren Grech, the Attorney General Michael Llamas, the Financial Secretary Albert Mena, the Medical Director Krish Rawal, the Parliamentary Counsel Paul Peralta and the Civil Contingencies Coordinator Ivor Lopez.

The Leader of the Opposition Keith Azopardi was also invited to attend and to give his views.

The Cabinet decided, by a unanimous vote of all Ministers present, to impose a number of restrictions by law on the movement of all elderly citizens above the age of 70. This is judged to be the category most at risk from the virus. The new law, which will come into effect tomorrow, is designed to protect the elderly from exposure to the virus. It generally prohibits the elderly, from leaving their place of residence, unless they are going to purchase food, medical supplies or to work. Those over 70 will also be able to leave their homes to go to a bank or other financial institution or where they are the carer of a person with a disability or who is a vulnerable person and to walk pets. The law introduces a civil penalty for anyone who fails to comply. The Attorney General has confirmed that the law is proportionate and compatible with the Constitution of Gibraltar.

The legislation will expire on 15 April 2020 and may be extended after consultation between the Chief Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, unless it is not practicable to do so.

An update on the latest position and the preparations underway in every relevant area was delivered by each individual Minister, by the Medical Director and by the Civil Contingencies Coordinator.

The Cabinet acknowledged the hard work being put in by public officials in our health service and elsewhere who have been assisting with this situation. It was also very grateful to the hundreds of volunteers who have come forward to support the community at this delicate time.