Gibraltar is what life could be like when we've ALL had the vaccine

Gibraltar is what life could be like when we've ALL had the vaccine

04/06/2021

This is what life could be like when we’ve ALL had the vaccine: Shops, bars and restaurants are thriving in Gibraltar where 90 per cent of adults have had the jab and hospitals have zero Covid patients

  • EXCLUSIVE Of Gibraltar’s population of 34,000 people, not a single one is in hospital with Covid-19 
  • Boris Johnson has himself highlighted the success of Gibraltar’s astutely-named Operation Freedom
  • Gibraltar’s bars and restaurants can stay open until 2am and masks must be worn in shops but not outside 
  • PM yesterday confirmed plans to replace the foreign holidays ban with a ‘traffic light’ system for travel
  • Gibraltar will likely be given ‘green’ status meaning visitors will not need to quarantine when they get home

Shops, bars and restaurants are thriving in Gibraltar where 90 per cent of adults have had the Covid-19 jab – offering a blissful glimpse into what life could be like when the UK Government’s vaccine rollout is complete. 

Of the Rock’s population of 34,000 people, not a single one is in hospital with coronavirus, making the country a beacon of hope to Europe and to Britain.

Although Boris Johnson has himself highlighted the success of Gibraltar’s astutely-named Operation Freedom, critics will argue it shows he should speed up the UK’s cautious release from lockdown. 

Gibraltar’s bars and restaurants can now stay open until 2am and face masks must be worn in shops but can be taken off outdoors.

All shops are open now – including non-essential ones – and to get into bars and restaurants no-one needs to show any kind of vaccine passport.

The PM yesterday confirmed plans to replace the foreign holidays ban with a ‘traffic light’ system which would open up quarantine-free travel to destinations rated green.

Higher-risk locations would be graded amber or red, with varying testing and quarantine measures for each category. 

While only a handful of European destinations are expected to be given ‘green’ status – including Portugal – it should open the way to trips to places including Gibraltar.

Shops, bars and restaurants are thriving in Gibraltar (pictured) where 90 per cent of adults have had the Covid-19 jab – offering a blissful glimpse into what life could be like when the UK Government’s vaccine rollout is complete

Of the Rock’s population of 34,000 people, not a single one is in hospital with coronavirus, making the country a beacon of hope to Europe and to Britain. Pictured: Locals in a restaurant

Although Boris Johnson has himself highlighted the success of Gibraltar’s astutely-named Operation Freedom, critics will argue it shows he should speed up the UK’s cautious release from lockdown. Pictured: Locals on a beach

Gibraltar’s bars and restaurants can now stay open until 2am and face masks must be worn in shops but can be taken off outdoors (pictured)

On the Rock, Friday nights in places like Chatham Counterguard and Ocean Village Marina are buzzing with people revelling in the freedom of being able to order alcohol until 1.30am on tables they can share with up to seven friends. 

Along the way, Gibraltar has hosted an event billed as the first fully-vaccinated sporting fixture in the world – a sold-out boxing match on March 27 which saw British heavyweight Dillian Whyte beat Russia’s Alexander Povetkin at the Europa Sports Complex in front of 500 fans.

Gibraltar’s World Cup qualifier clash against the Netherlands last Tuesday was watched by 600 spectators able to enter Victoria Stadium if they had received their two vaccine doses and tested negative for coronavirus the day of the match.

The only downside was the 0-7 home defeat.

All shops are open now – including non-essential ones – and to get into bars, cafés (pictured) and restaurants no-one needs to show any kind of vaccine passport

The PM yesterday confirmed plans to replace the foreign holidays ban with a ‘traffic light’ system which would open up quarantine-free travel to destinations rated green. Pictured: Outdoor dining in Gibraltar

Higher-risk locations would be graded amber or red, with varying testing and quarantine measures for each category. Pictured: Locals in Gibraltar

While only a handful of European destinations are expected to be given ‘green’ status – including Portugal – it should open the way to trips to places including Gibraltar (pictured)

On the Rock, Friday nights in places like Chatham Counterguard and Ocean Village Marina are buzzing with people revelling in the freedom of being able to order alcohol until 1.30am on tables they can share with up to seven friends. Pictured: A bar in Gibraltar

Along the way, Gibraltar has hosted an event billed as the first fully-vaccinated sporting fixture in the world – a sold-out boxing match on March 27 which saw British heavyweight Dillian Whyte beat Russia’s Alexander Povetkin at the Europa Sports Complex in front of 500 fans. Pictured: A Gibraltar street

Gibraltar’s World Cup qualifier clash against the Netherlands last Tuesday was watched by 600 spectators able to enter Victoria Stadium if they had received their two vaccine doses and tested negative for coronavirus the day of the match. Pictured: Outdoor dining on the Rock

As well as its own people, the densely-populated 2.6 square-mile British overseas territory (pictured) has also been able to vaccinate most of the estimated 15,000 cross-border workers who commute daily from Spain

Nearly 61,000 vaccines have been administered in total – 32,293 first doses and 28,614 second doses. Pictured: A restaurant on the Rock

Charles Danino, 59, (pictured) manager of the iconic four-star Rock Hotel boasting magnificent views across the Bay of Gibraltar, the Spanish mainland and Morocco’s Rif mountains, added: ‘Gibraltar hasn’t just taken care of its citizens with its vaccination programme but also the people who live in Spain and work here and that’s a commendable approach’

Restaurant manageress Emma Gaivizo, 26, said: ‘I sometimes forget we’re still in the middle of a world health crisis.’ Johnny Ramagge (pictured with Ms Gaivizo), the 18-year-old Gibraltar-born son of the Dolphin restaurant’s owner, added: ‘I’ve already had both jabs and all 14 Spanish staff living the other side of the border who work here have been fully vaccinated bar two who are getting their second vaccine next week. That’s made the difference for me’

The number of active coronavirus cases currently stands at just seven, giving Rock residents (pictured) hope the total number of 94 Covid deaths since the start of the health crisis will be the final total – and summer tourists from the UK and rest of Europe can accelerate its return to pre-pandemic normality

People flying into Gibraltar from Britain need to show proof of a PCR test or an online booking for a lateral flow test at a Portakabin outside the arrivals terminal (pictured) – and have to take another test if they are still on the Rock five days later

The contrast with Spain is obvious the minute you cross the border (pictured). Visitors leaving the depressed Spanish town of La Linea are waved through passport control by Spanish police in masks less than 100 feet away from their Gib counterparts breathing in fresh air without face coverings

Locals Adolfo and Antonia Mor enjoy the sun in Gibraltar, where it is legal to be outside without a face covering

There are no virtually no holidaymakers on the Rock (pictured) at the moment. But that is expected to change in the run-up to the summer, with Mr Johnson set to give Gibraltar ‘green light’ status and spare British tourists the need to quarantine on their return

Retired caretaker Adolfo Mor, 76, relaxing on the promenade with his wife Victoria on foldaway chairs (pictured), said: ‘This is paradise. ‘I’m sitting here enjoying the sunshine and breathing in fresh air without a face mask on’

The typical profile of the passengers on the two flights a day coming in from Gatwick and Heathrow – a fraction of the dozen planes that brought in tourists pre-Covid on the busiest day which was always Sunday – tend to be students returning to Gibraltar (pictured) from UK universities or workers boarding ships that have docked at the Rock 

Restaurant manageress Emma Gaivizo, 26, said: ‘I sometimes forget we’re still in the middle of a world health crisis.

‘Most of our customers are locals at the moment when we’d normally have a lot of tourists.

‘We had to close twice during lockdown but business is booming again now we’ve been able to reopen and I’m feeling optimistic about the future.

‘Things have started getting back to normal very quickly.’

Around her at the packed Dolphin Restaurant near the beach at Camp Bay, the only sign of the pandemic is the hand gel dispenser at the entrance and the face masks worn by staff while serving customers.

Others were making the most of their new-found freedom in the April sunshine.

Retired caretaker Adolfo Mor, 76, relaxing on the promenade with his wife Victoria on foldaway chairs, said: ‘This is paradise.

‘I’m sitting here enjoying the sunshine and breathing in fresh air without a face mask on.

Gibraltar’s Minister for Health, Samantha Sacramento, said: ‘The measures and precautions we have implemented are working, and we must remember the dedication of our Gibraltar Health Authority staff to achieve this.’ Pictured: Locals on the beach

The airport’s restaurant and duty free shop are open before and after the two flights touch down (the airport, pictured) instead of all day as they did before the pandemic

‘Now we’ve been vaccinated we get out whenever we want and we do. We never feel afraid.

‘Gibraltar has done its bit to get things moving again. Boris Johnson should do the right thing and let UK tourists come here. They’d get a warm welcome and have a great time.’

Carmen Panayiotis, the 35-year-old supervisor at O’Reilly’s Irish Pub and Steakhouse in upmarket Ocean Village, said: ‘It’s still fairly quiet at the moment but I reckon by the end of May it’s going to go crazy here if Boris Johnson opens the door to holidays abroad.

‘The situation in Gibraltar at the moment is fantastic and I’m sure we’ll get green light status.

‘This weekend we’re opening till 2am for the first time since the end of lockdown.’

And the taxi drivers waiting by the border get few requests to take people to the top of the Rock to see the famous Barbary Macaques at the moment, even though the Upper Rock Nature Reserve has just reopened. Pictured: Gibraltar

The number of active coronavirus cases currently stands at just seven in Gibraltar. Pictured: Locals enjoying the sunshine

The contrast with Spain is obvious the minute you cross the border.

Visitors leaving the depressed Spanish town of La Linea are waved through passport control by Spanish police in masks less than 100 feet away from their Gib counterparts breathing in fresh air without face coverings.

As well as its own people, the densely-populated 2.6 square-mile British overseas territory has also been able to vaccinate most of the estimated 15,000 cross-border workers who commute daily from Spain.

Nearly 61,000 vaccines have been administered in total – 32,293 first doses and 28,614 second doses.

The number of active coronavirus cases currently stands at just seven, giving Rock residents hope the total number of 94 Covid deaths since the start of the health crisis will be the final total – and summer tourists from the UK and rest of Europe can accelerate its return to pre-pandemic normality.

There are no virtually no holidaymakers on the Rock at the moment.

But that is expected to change in the run-up to the summer, with Mr Johnson set to give Gibraltar ‘green light’ status and spare British tourists the need to quarantine on their return.

Charles Catania, 67, who still works as a cabbie despite drawing a pension, said: ‘The pandemic has hit everyone hard and most of my colleagues have survived with the help of government assistance. We’re still earning a fraction of what we were’

At the packed Dolphin Restaurant  (pictured) near the beach at Camp Bay, the only sign of the pandemic is the hand gel dispenser at the entrance and the face masks worn by staff while serving customers

Carmen Panayiotis, the 35-year-old supervisor at O’Reilly’s Irish Pub and Steakhouse in upmarket Ocean Village, said: ‘It’s still fairly quiet at the moment but I reckon by the end of May it’s going to go crazy here if Boris Johnson opens the door to holidays abroad’

Spain is due to remove travel restrictions as its lumbering vaccine programme gathers speed.

Johnny Ramagge, the 18-year-old Gibraltar-born son of the Dolphin restaurant’s owner, added: ‘I’ve already had both jabs and all 14 Spanish staff living the other side of the border who work here have been fully vaccinated bar two who are getting their second vaccine next week.

‘That’s made the difference for me.’

Spanish metal worker Juan Carlos Bonales, 51, talking to MailOnline during a stroll past the souvenir and duty-free shops on busy Main Street, admitted: ‘I’ve got time on my hands because with the coronavirus pandemic I’ve been laid off and I’m not sure if I’ll have a job to go back to.

‘This is my first visit to Gibraltar for a year and a half. I’ve been hearing a lot about how well the vaccine rollout has gone and I wanted to see for myself what the situation was like so came here for the day from my home in La Linea.

‘I’ll be going home pleasantly surprised. Seeing so many people without face masks on has shocked me but pleased me at the same time.

‘I don’t take mine off because I haven’t been vaccinated yet and I’m so used to wearing one back in Spain where you can be fined 100 euros if you’re caught on the street without one.

‘It’s a mixture of fear and habit I suppose.’

People flying into Gibraltar from Britain need to show proof of a PCR test or an online booking for a lateral flow test at a Portakabin outside the arrivals terminal – and have to take another test if they are still on the Rock five days later.

The typical profile of the passengers on the two flights a day coming in from Gatwick and Heathrow – a fraction of the dozen planes that brought in tourists pre-Covid on the busiest day which was always Sunday – tend to be students returning to Gibraltar from UK universities or workers boarding ships that have docked at the Rock.

The airport’s restaurant and duty free shop are open before and after the two flights touch down instead of all day as they did before the pandemic.

And the taxi drivers waiting by the border get few requests to take people to the top of the Rock to see the famous Barbary Macaques at the moment, even though the Upper Rock Nature Reserve has just reopened.

Chief Minister Fabian Picardo added: ‘I am very pleased to say we are now at the two week point with no cases in Elderly Residential Services and St Bernard’s Hospital.’ Pictured: Gibraltar’s busy streets

Charles Catania, 67, who still works as a cabbie despite drawing a pension, said: ‘The pandemic has hit everyone hard and most of my colleagues have survived with the help of government assistance.

‘We’re still earning a fraction of what we were.

‘But the future is looking bright and I think things will really bounce back when the UK lets people come here on holiday.

‘I think Gibraltar can become a Mecca for tourists because it’s so safe.’

Charles Danino, 59, manager of the iconic four-star Rock Hotel boasting magnificent views across the Bay of Gibraltar, the Spanish mainland and Morocco’s Rif mountains, added: ‘Gibraltar hasn’t just taken care of its citizens with its vaccination programme but also the people who live in Spain and work here and that’s a commendable approach.

‘It makes everyone safer. I think it’s been very well handled.

‘We sent out a mailing list to clients last year with the motto “We missed you” and I think our customers have missed us too.

‘People are craving to get out and they react immediately to good news. I’m cautiously optimistic we can look forward to a very good summer.’

Gibraltar’s Minister for Health, Samantha Sacramento, said: ‘The measures and precautions we have implemented are working, and we must remember the dedication of our Gibraltar Health Authority staff to achieve this.’

Chief Minister Fabian Picardo added: ‘I am very pleased to say we are now at the two week point with no cases in Elderly Residential Services and St Bernard’s Hospital.

‘Our successful vaccine programme is allowing us to resume a more normal way of life which we should be thankful for.’

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