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Press Conference 21st April 2020

April 21, 2020


Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Information Dr Joseph Garcia



Good afternoon.

Welcome to our daily briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thank you for joining us once again.

This reflects our commitment keep you informed.

And also keep you safe.

Which is why we will again repeat our public health message.

I am joined today

by the Commissioner of Police Ian McGrail.



I will start with an update from A&E and with the latest test data as at 8.30am today.

Remember that anyone with the symptoms of COVID-19 should call 111 first.

In the last 24 hours there were a total of 30 attendances at A&E.


Eleven of them had COVID symptoms.


Eight were swabbed.


Two were admitted to the COVID ward and were awaiting review by the Consultant.


The latest test data is as follows:


Total swabs 1974

Results pending 50

Results received 1924


Confirmed 132

Active 12

Recovered 120


All 12 active cases are at home.



The grand total of 1974 tests so far is some 6.2% of the population.

In terms of tests done per capita (million),

Gibraltar is now ranked fifth in the world.



That is our data.

So what about other small countries?

How does Gibraltar compare with them?

Particularly those in Europe.

San Marino, for example, has 461 confirmed cases.

They have also regrettably had 39 deaths.

Andorra has 717 confirmed cases.

And 36 deaths.

There are 82 cases in Liechtenstein.

And 1 death.

The Channel Islands data shows that

Jersey has 245 confirmed cases.

And 12 have proved fatal.

While in Guernsey with 239 confirmed cases,

9 patients have sadly passed away.

The Isle of Man has reported 297 cases and 4 deaths.

So when we compare,

when we look at this data,

and we see what is sadly happening in Europe,

We have much to be thankful for.

At the same time, we can be proud

of the way we have prepared.

Proud of our Public Health staff.

Proud of our healthcare staff.

Of the public service and the emergency services.

Proud of everyone who has pulled together.

And proud of all of you.

Of the way that you have risen to the occasion.

And faced the threat.


But we should not become complacent.

We must not be lulled into a false sense of security.

And we must not be driven by dangerous,

misplaced bravado.

Rash actions often carry serious consequences.

Now is a time for

serious thought and considered judgment.

We have done well.

That is true.

But things can change very rapidly.

The experience of other countries has shown that.

The virus is still here.

The virus is highly infectious.

And it has killed tens of thousands of people.

Over two million infected cases.

All over the planet.

Over 20,000 people have died in

Spain, in France and in Italy.

Over 16,000 in the United Kingdom.

The virus can spread quickly.

It will move from person to person.

So the less contact you have with others,

the better for you and

the better for them.

As you know,

the law allows you to go out.

In certain defined circumstances.

And for very specific purposes.

If you are going outside,

then do so with care.

Maintain social distancing.

Stick to members of your household.

The people you live with.

Do not arrange to meet friends.

Do not stop for a chat.

And be careful.

The Commissioner will expand on these issues.



I want to say something now about social media.

At a time of crisis,

everyone wants to know what is happening.

This is not unusual.

The Government understands that.

That is why

the degree of information we put before you is unprecedented.

We recognise that these are truly exceptional times.

And that it is our duty to keep you informed.

A duty that we take very seriously.

This daily briefing

has become a focal point of reference for many of you.

That is how it should be.

Ministers will continue to update you.

We will continue to answer questions.

Our medical and public health professionals

will do the same.

And today the Commissioner.

But listen to us.

And act on what we say.

That is your duty.

Both legal and moral.

Do not listen to self-appointed experts online.

Sadly, there is an abundance

of misinformation doing the rounds.

Particularly on social media.

Here in Gibraltar and everywhere else.

This is often based on half-truths,

on rumour and speculation,

on conjecture and gossip,

rather than on hard facts.

You need clarity and not confusion.

You need facts and not fiction.

We give you those facts here.

Every day.

At weekends.

And on Bank Holidays too.

So do not allow yourself to be wound up unnecessarily.

Listen to us

We continue give you the cold facts every day.

We set out the truth.

And we tell it as it is.

Both the good and the bad.

So I repeat.

Get your information from us.

From official sources.

Do not waste your time with anything else.



On another matter.

I am pleased to report that

the EU is set to allow the formal export of PPE equipment to Gibraltar.

There had been an issue with this.

PPE exports to countries outside the EU are  restricted.

As they protect the availability of supplies.

Such goods are

subject to a tighter export authorisation regime,

under EU Regulations adopted on 14 March.

Gibraltar was considered a Third Country

for the movement of such goods.

This created a hiccup in the export process.

And put Gibraltar outside the standard export authorisation regime.

Consignments have nonetheless come through.

This issue was identified at an early stage.

And taken up by the United Kingdom

at a high level in Brussels.

The EU measure is being renewed this week.

We are told that it will be amended.

In order to provide for export to Gibraltar

and also to some eastern Balkan countries.

We are grateful for this.



Some good news also in relation to those residents stranded abroad.

The two who were in Australia have returned home.

This still leaves 51 persons in five countries.

Dubai, India, Morocco, South Africa and the United States.

All have been advised to contact the relevant British Embassy or High Commission.

The largest group in Morocco has now grown to 39.

The lockdown there was just extended until 20 May.

Some of them have dual citizenship.

And this has further complicated matters.

But we continue to look for solutions.

Together with the Moroccan Community Association.



The Cabinet met again this morning.

A roadmap to release from lockdown was discussed.

These discussions are happening all over Europe.

The starting point for us is Public Health advice.

And we are clear that this must be an orderly and a phased release.

One which can be reversed at any time.

And one which is dependent on a number of criteria,

which were set out by the Chief Minister yesterday.

Each step in the process will be followed by a pause.

In order to monitor the effects of relaxation.

We will loosen,

but understand that we may need to tighten again.

For there is no proven path for release.

And we are in unchartered waters.

Where every country faces different challenges.

We do too.

Gibraltar has avoided a surge so far.

We have done well.

But the surge may still come.

And we must guard against this.

For now, deliberations continue.

And once complete, the plan will be made public.



In that context I want to say a word about our over 70s.

Our advice there has not changed.

To stay safe, stay at home.

Simply put:

If you do not go out, then you cannot catch it.

If you do not meet anyone you cannot catch it.

If you disinfect everything that enters your home you cannot catch it.

The policy has worked.

And our over 70s have been protected.

But the law has always allowed our over 70s to go out.

For food shopping,

to purchase medication,

to walk a dog,

to go to work,

and to go to a bank

among other activities.

Our advice, nonetheless has been not to do it.

And we have set up a support structure to assist.

To make their life at home more bearable.

The Cabinet had a good discussion today.

The decision was taken,

on Public Health advice,

to explore ways in which to allow the elderly to exercise outdoors.

At a defined location;

At a specific time;

On certain days;

And in a sheltered or protected environment.

The concept will be for a “golden hour”.

The details of which will be announced shortly.

Such exercise will be optional.

Those who wish to can avail themselves of the opportunity.

Many over 70s may well choose not to.

But those who do must take great care.

While at home they are safe.

Once they walk out of the door, there are risks.

It is as simple as that.

When the time comes,

those who do exercise should stick to their household group.

If you live alone, then walk alone.

Maintain social distancing.

You should not meet up with friends or family.

This must not become an excuse to socialise.

And as you make your way outdoors,

be careful when touching things like

lift buttons,

door handles,

and hand rails,

particularly if you walk down communal stairs.

Do not sit anywhere.

Exercise, or walk and then leave.

Do not touch your mouth, nose or eyes at all.

And wash your hands thoroughly

when you return home.

But remember this.

There is good reason for confining the over 70s.

And those reasons continue to be valid.

They are the group most at risk.

They are the most vulnerable group.


anyone can contract COVID-19.

But the cowardly virus preys on the elderly.

They have been the worst affected group.

The hardest hit.

That is the evidence from other countries.

That is why our advice remains to stay indoors.

Even though the law already allows them to go out.


We understand that confinement is painful.

A lengthy confinement is even worse.

You miss your family.

Your miss your friends.

You miss the lifestyle that you were used to.

We all do.

But we live in a different world now.

Where things will never be the same again.

Where we need to be more careful.

And where uncertainty is the new normal.


If you are over 70, we know that

Gibraltar has called on you to make sacrifices in the past.

During the wartime evacuation;

during the closure of the border;

And during those tough years of siege that followed.

Many of you represent that generation.

A strong and hardy people.

Who have faced every challenge head-on.

Who have never shirked their responsibilities,

And who have overcome one obstacle after another.

Gibraltar calls for a further sacrifice now.

Our world is uncertain.

Our enemy a killer virus.

Our defence staying indoors.


those who want lockdown relaxation have to follow the rules.

In particular during the actual period of relaxation.

The elderly will soon be able to exercise outdoors.

But make no mistake about it.

This activity will carry a risk.

We can mitigate the risk, but we cannot eliminate it.

The full details, as I said, will be announced shortly.

And so,

listen to our advice.

Stay safe.

And remember.

At 8.00pm every day,

salute our healthcare staff.

And thank our essential and emergency services.



Before passing on to the Commissioner, let me repeat our public health advice once again.


  1. Listen and act on the advice of our public health experts.


  1. When you sneeze or cough, do so into a tissue and then bin it.


  1. Wash your hands regularly for at least twenty seconds.


  1. Do not visit anyone over 70.


  1. If you are over 70 or vulnerable please stay at home.


  1. If you need medical advice call 111.


  1. If you have any other question call 200 41818.


  1. And for emergencies, call 190 or 199 as usual.


  1. Stay home, Stay Alive.


I now pass you on to Commissioner McGrail.