CM INFORMATION CONFERENCE
Ladies and Gentlemen, Good afternoon, and welcome back to No6 Convent Place for this afternoon’s Information Conference.
Today I will give you updated statistics, I will address relieving the lockdown for our over 70s, I will make an announcement about the Instituto Cervantes and I will then address matters relating to the BEAT COVID measures and Workers’ Memorial Day.
I want to start, however, by sending best wishes to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.
Whatever differing political complexion we may each have, we are all very happy to see Mr Johnson return to Downing Street.
Let me therefore now go straight into today’s statistics, which I know is what you are interested in hearing.
As at 0900hrs today, the number of samples taken for COVID-19 in our community is 2327.
These include a large number which relate to our new random test of our frontline workers.
The results pending are 200.
2127 results have therefore already been delivered.
Confirmed Cases now amount to 141, of which 131 are deemed recovered.
We presently have 10 active cases therefore of COVID-19 in our community.
All are at home, in self-isolation.
There are therefore no cases of COVID in St Bernard’s Hospital John Ward or in the ICU.
The Nightingale facility at Europa is empty.
I should point out that there is a European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control website which erroneously registered 4 deaths in Gibraltar for the 13th April.
We have taken that up directly with them as their data is incorrect of course in that respect.
These low numbers of infections, and the absence of serious cases or deaths in Gibraltar is good news – but it is ever-changing so we cannot get over confident in respect of a virus which is still very much in our community and is likely to remain a part of our world for many months or years to come.
This morning, the Cabinet considered this issue in great detail.
We are in the process of finalising a plan to start our exit from LOCKDOWN.
We expect to be able to say more about that in coming days as we are consulting very widely on that.
OVER 70s & ‘GOLDEN HOUR’
But today, having met the triggers for unlocking to commence, we are going to start relaxing the lockdown by announcing a very welcome measure of relief for our over 70s.
Based on medical and public health advice and following consultation with the Leader of the Opposition, we are going to amend the regulations on the over 70s.
The change will allow our over 70s to go out to exercise in the same way as our regulations permit the rest of the population to do so.
It will of course be entirely voluntary for those affected to take advantage of the opportunity to exercise.
There is no obligation to go out to exercise, which you can do indoors.
Indeed, the advice remains that over 70s should stay at home other than as necessary.
However, there are a small number of over 70s who have contacted the Government and expressed a desire to go out to exercise, in the same way as everybody else.
The Government has therefore decided that those over 70s who wish to, will be able to exercise with no restriction in the same way and at the same time as everybody else.
In order to introduce a degree of mitigation from the risks of going out, special facilities will also be provided for those of our over 70s who wish to take the option of exercising at defined locations on specific days and times.
On weekdays from 10.00am until 12 noon, Eastern Beach, Camp Bay, and the Victoria Stadium and Commonwealth Park will be reserved for exercise by persons over 70 only.
Bank Holidays are excluded, as those areas will be open to the whole community on those days at those times.
Entry and exit will be controlled by the Royal Gibraltar Police and other officials.
It will be necessary to show a document like a health card which shows the age of the holder to be able to access these areas.
The different areas will be cleaned and disinfected before 10.00am on the relevant days.
This is the “Golden Hour” scheme which will provide facilities for those of our over 70s who wish to avail themselves of them.
Those who leave home are urged to be extra careful. They should not touch anything like lift buttons, door handles or handrails in communal stairs.
They should maintain social distancing and must not use the opportunity to leave home as an excuse to meet or walk with friends and family.
And these measures will of course be kept under constant review.
I am also happy to report today that the Instituto Cervantes is offering online support to Gibraltar students undertaking Spanish A-Level courses.
More information is available at Cervantes.es.
The public will recall the Instituto closed its doors in Gibraltar at the time that Snr Margallo was Foreign Minister of Spain.
I welcome this tentative return – even if it is only virtual at this stage.
BEAT COVID MEASURES
Moving on now to our BEAT COVID Measures, I am happy to report that these are in the main, working very well.
There have been some glitches on emails, and these are being corrected.
But the vast number of communications and payments have gone without incident, which is a very, very good thing.
I expect to be able to provide detailed statistics on payments and the demographic spread of these by the end of the month.
When CELAC met on Friday, we considered some new measures and new types of BEAT COVID payments for excluded sectors which we are looking at introducing next month.
I expect to be able to say more about that before the end of the month.
WORKERS’ MEMORIAL DAY / RGR REGIMENTAL DAY
Finally, tomorrow is an important day.
It is a Bank Holiday to mark Workers’ Memorial Day.
That is the day when we commemorate those who have lost their lives at work or been seriously injured at work.
I will be marking the day with the Minister for Employment, who will be here to address you tomorrow, and Unite in the lobby of Parliament in a much reduced ceremony.
We will be holding a minute’s silence at midday.
So will colleagues in the GHA who will be joining the minute’s silence across the United Kingdom at 11am.
I invite everyone in our community to join us in that minute’s silence at midday Gibraltar time tomorrow – which will be at the same time as the UK’s minute’s silence at 11am.
At that time, we must bear in mind the slogan of Workers’ Memorial Day.
Remember the dead – Fight for the living.
How apposite that message is this year, in particular when we think of health workers around the world who have lost their lives at work, treating those with COVID-19.
Additionally, I should say that tomorrow is also the Regimental Day of our much-loved Royal Gibraltar Regiment.
Today, I wear the tie of their regimental association in honour of all those who have served.
Tomorrow, I will wear the tie of the Regiment in honour of the work done by them in helping us to prepare the Nightingale facility at Europa Point.
And now, to the main event.
This afternoon, I am joined by a person who represents the cohort of the over 70s.
There is nothing about him which suggests that he is more vulnerable or at any risk than anybody else.
Indeed, and if anything AS EVER the people who are most at risk or vulnerable are those who want to have an argument with him!
So I have great pleasure in welcoming Sir Joe Bossano to the Information Conference this afternoon. .