By Ruben Rosón
Algeciras, Spain, Mar 28 (efe-epa).- Residents of Gibraltar will no longer be required to wear face masks in the street as of Sunday as the British overseas territory becomes one of the few regions of the world to return to almost total normality thanks to an advanced vaccine rollout.
Around 80% of Gibraltar’s 34,000 inhabitants have been fully inoculated against Covid-19 as part of a vaccine campaign the local government dubbed Operation Freedom.
Local authorities have lifted obligatory mask use rules for Main Street and its vicinity, the last area where they were still applied due to the high traffic of pedestrians.
Face coverings are still required in closed spaces and on public transport, however.
“We are at last leaving behind our deadliest winter and entering our most hopeful spring,” Fabian Picardo, Gibraltar’s chief minister said in a statement on Wednesday. “The global pandemic isn’t entirely behind us and we must all move forward carefully to safeguard this incredible progress in the weeks and months ahead.”
As well as removing mask rules, restaurants and bars in Gibraltar can now open until 2 am with the scrapping of the curfew.
The British territory, which borders Spain, has reported 94 Covid-19 deaths since the pandemic began.
Gibraltar’s Sant Bernard hospital has not recorded a single Covid-19 patient in the last week, there are also no reported cases in the territory’s care home system.
According to official figures, there are just 10 active cases in the territory, eight corresponding to residents.
The roughly 15,000 workers who cross to Gibraltar every day from Spain are being vaccinated, too. More than 2,300 have received the two doses of the jab.
Gibraltar’s vaccine success is in stark contrast to neighboring Cadiz, where regional authorities say just over 5% of the population have had the vaccine.
In this part of southern Spain, mask use is still obligatory in all public spaces and a nightly curfew comes into effect at 11 pm. EFE-EPA