Gibraltar reels as coronavirus fears mount ‘People are scared’

Chief Minister Fabian Picardo yesterday unveiled tough new measures aimed at slowing the spread of the virus, with two active cases in the 34,000-population British overseas territory, located on the southern tip of the Spanish mainland, including a requirement that everyone over the age of 70 remains in their homes except to visit the shops and a request not to go to Spain unless absolutely necessary. And people questioned in the near-deserted shopping area at the centre of the community admitted they were feeling the pinch. Ahjid Assomull, manager of Carlos Electrics, said: “Well basically the business has been seriously affected because we rely a lot on tourism, and the tourism is gone.

People generally are a bit scared to come out, and to have any contact with anyone

Ahjid Assomull, manager of Carlos Electrics

“We rely on cruise liners, and cruise liners are gone, and people generally are a bit scared to come out, and to have any contact with anyone.

“We don’t deal with food items, which is a necessity, so it has made things quite difficult – but while we are allowed to stay open, we do stay open, and occasionally people do need some necessities.

“People are working from home, so we have been selling quite a few printers for example, and other things like that. We will ride it out and hope for the best.”

Barrister Levi Attias said the community needed to “refocus” and remain as united as possible.

He added: “So far political issues with Spain have not really blossomed and we are hopeful in view of the fact that this is a virus, it’s an unseen enemy that is affecting the whole world, this will help to emphasise the point of world unity.”

Director Naresh Basanti said: “It’s a very difficult situation for the world today, including for us in Gibraltar.

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“Business is very, very slow with no people on the streets.”

Patrick Mifsud, a retired television producer, said: “It’s affecting our communities especially here in Gibraltar.

“We have a not-very-friendly neighbour next door, so between Brexit and the coronavirus, and the fact that we are basically between the devil and the deep blue sea, things are difficult.

“If you look along Main Street now, it’s empty, businesses are suffering, not so much big businesses as small businesses, which are suffering the most.”

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Retired director Lionel Chipolina: “We’re getting ready for the worst but hoping for the best.

“As you can see, streets in Gibraltar are pretty quiet and the tourism industry has gone to pot for a while.

“We are just hoping for the best now and then picking up the pieces when we can.

“I think there is going to be major shifts in the economy, as indeed in the rest of the world.”

Shopkeeper Naresh Aidasni said: “The whole town is empty. This is supposed to be the time when we start picking up little by little and by Easter we should have started to pick up our businesses.

“There’s no cruise liners, there are no people coming in, there’s no point having these shops opening and it’s becoming a very worrying situation.”

Mr Picardo, in a live address screened by the Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporation, said: “I want to be clear with ALL our citizens, that given the patterns we have seen in other countries, whatever we do, vulnerable people will die of this virus.

“We will not be able to stop that. We cannot stop the wind and we cannot stop the tide.

“The government cannot stop this virus. Pretending to do so would be untrue and I will not lie to you.

“We are at war with a hidden killer that preys on our elderly and most vulnerable.

“There is no earthly power that can presently stop it.

“But we are taking measures to slow it down.

“Avoiding spikes in infection will mean we have more resources when needed to treat people.”

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