Gibraltar asks for leniency as UK government prepares to extend quarantine rules

Gibraltar’s chief minister has said the territory is being judged unfairly over its coronavirus case numbers.

In the past month, the number of new cases of Covid-19 in the British overseas territory has risen 11-fold.

With Gibraltar’s rate of new cases added in the past week currently five times higher than the DfT’s limit, it is a clear candidate to lose its exemption from quarantine for travellers to the UK. Germany has already issued a warning against travel there.

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Fabian Picardo told the BBC’s Today programme: “It’s an understandable reaction to an extrapolation of the number of infections detected.

“If you do a more detailed dive and you look at the fact that we are doing more testing than most places per head of population, then you’ll understand that we are now being very successful at identifying cases of the virus and then exercising controls in terms of imposing self-isolation, etc.”

He said that Gibraltar has tested almost 32,000 people, representing 95 per cent of its population, and continues to test 2 per cent of inhabitants a day – the equivalent of the UK testing about 1.2 million people a day.

“We’re doing a good job in detecting the virus and dealing with it,” Mr Picardo said.

“We have larger numbers of the virus detected now, but we have no one in hospital, we have no one in ICU, we have no one having died from the virus, I’d say we’ve been very successful in our strategy.”

The Department for Transport (DfT) is thought likely to announce its next set of changes to the list of quarantine-exempt countries and territories later today.

Gibraltar’s chief minister said: “I’d be concerned about the impact on people who are having to travel to the United Kingdom from Gibraltar not just for the exchange of tourism.

“It’s about business, it’s about studies, it’s about health. It would be a huge inconvenience.”

Earlier this week, some passengers on an easyJet flight that was delayed overnight at Gibraltar were put up in hotels in Spain, making them liable to 14 days of self-isolation on return to the UK.

Switzerland is expected to lose its exemption from UK quarantine, and infection figures for the Czech Republic and Jamaica are also close to breaching the government’s limits.

But Bulgaria, which has seen a dramatic fall in coronavirus cases, may gain exemption.

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