in ,

Picardo Announces New Christmas Covid Restrictions in Gibraltar: All Eyes on Vaccine

Chris Gomez

Today the Chief Minister of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo, announced in parliament that his government will be implementing a series of new restrictions in view of an “exponential” rise in the number of cases on the Rock. Around 4% of Gibraltar’s population has been put in self-isolation. Picardo warned that the vaccine “will prevent these measures from being required” in future.

Picardo Announces New Christmas Covid Restrictions in Gibraltar: All Eyes on the Vaccine

The immediacy of the situation was clear when he said that two Parliamentarians, Deputy Chief Minister Dr. Joseph Garcia and Opposition MP Damon Bossino had tested positive and another two Minister Samantha Sacramento and GSD member Edwin Reyes were self-isolating although all were working remotely.

Opening his statement to Parliament, Mr. Picardo said: “the UK and Europe are once again plunged into a new public health crisis … a new more infectious but not more deadly strain of the disease”.

He said that this virus is “70% more virulent”, echoing the statements of UK Health Minister Matt Hancock which caused France and many other European countries to close their travel corridors with the UK and have plunged the country into chaos.

This comes after an increase of 131 new cases in Gibraltar in the past 5 days, bringing the total active cases to 202, and the total confirmed cases to 1,282. There are now 1,365 people in self isolation (around 4% of Gibraltar’s population).

Picardo Announces New Christmas Covid Restrictions in Gibraltar: All Eyes on the Vaccine

The Chief Minister gave a sombre day by day recitation from the 10th December when there were 47 cases going down to 37 on the 13th and then figures shot up to 71 on the 16th “rocketing” to 202 today (21.12.2020). It is as yet unknown whether the increase is due to the “new strain” which has seemingly brought the UK to a situation of crisis but a patient in who was seen in November may have had it although it does not appear to have propagated.

Picardo acknowledged that people were getting frustrated with the pandemic but sharply rebuked a minority whom he accused of “apathy and irresponsibility”.

At the moment, despite the increase in cases, there are no admissions to hospital for Covid reasons.

Gibraltar Spain Frontier State of Alarm

The Chief Minister then warned, to the that “the vaccine” will prevent further restrictions: “we are now in a race, literally, to the death in some instances to prevent these measures from being required”, the vaccine will arrive in Gibraltar on the 1st of January 2021.

Speaking of the protest outside No. 6 Convent Place on Friday, which was attended by members of Gibraltar’s catering community who were complaining of the last minute 7 PM closure time which was urgently implemented, the Chief Minister said:

“Protesting against our COVID rules is not going to convince us to change rules that we reluctantly passed”.

This comes after members attending the protest were fined, in some instances £1,000, for breach of Covid regulations.

The latest restrictions are…

  • Masks: As from midnight tonight (21.12.2020), masks will become mandatory in all public places. Picardo said that this would not apply to those who are exercising (specifically running or cycling) but will affect those who are walking.
  • Catering: All catering establishments will have to close until the 11th of January earliest and provide takeaway only services as from today. The government of Gibraltar will compensate “those who have complied with our covid rules”, but that those establishments who have defied them been in breach “will specifically be excluded from receiving benefit.”
  • Sports: Permits for sporting events, including the Boxing Day polar bear swim, have been cancelled.
  • Gyms: All gyms to close as from 22nd of December.
  • Retail: “we are putting in place the same systems that we had put in place in April … tight controls on entry and exit” but non-essential shops will remain open.

Government Advice for Christmas Gatherings

The Chief Minister said that police will not enforce group size gatherings for family Christmas dinners, but has recommended that “only 3 households should mix… we will not legislate to police this.”

Instead, he asked that “members of the community police themselves”.

Over 70’s

Those who are over 70 will not be placed into another lockdown, but advised that over 70’s should behave “as if they were legally in lockdown”.

Golden hour will be cancelled until the 11th January 2021.

Religious Ceremonies

St. Joseph’s Church 2017

Mr. Picardo said that he is in discussion with the religious leaders in Gibraltar to cancel traditional religious ceremonies, such as Midnight Mass, at churches and instead opt for online streams.

Reflective of the so-called “new normal”, Mr. Picardo said that “we are not banning Christmas, we are changing Christmas”.

GBC will be streaming Midnight Mass from the Vatican on Christmas Eve.

Remote Working Advice

“All persons who can, should start working remotely as from tomorrow … there should be no socialising in work places … it is the last thing I want to say, but I ask them to please understand why we are doing this”.


Gibraltar Airport tunnel road construction completion ohl 2021

The Chief Minister said that Gibraltar is in discussion with the United Kingdom to keep the airlinks open.

Picardo also said that Gibraltar will not be imposing restrictions on travel into Spain, but warned that the Spanish government has already said that they will be reinforcing controls at the frontier.

Gibraltar Health Authority Declared “Major Incident”

  • Only priority surgeries will continue.
  • No visitors will be allowed onto GHA premises.
  • All GHA staff leave has been cancelled.
  • The government is preparing to reopen the emergency Nightingale hospital facility which was established earlier in the year but did not have to be used.


The Elderly Residential Services have been closed to visitors, unless the visit related to “end of life” issues.

Commenting on this, the leader of the opposition party (GSD) Keith Azopardi said “What the CM has announced is nearly a lockdown … it hasn’t recreated those March lockdown rules, but it has come pretty close to it.”

Picardo Announces New Christmas Covid Restrictions in Gibraltar: All Eyes on the Vaccine

Mr. Azopardi, although stating his understanding of the new restrictions, was reluctant to make a judgement in support due to not having “access to the science that the government has” and asked for “greater visibility on the science.

What do you think?