HM Government of Gibraltar has said it is actively and continuously monitoring the global COVID-19 situation, particularly with regards to the new Omicron variant, which has been declared a variant of concern and has been detected in the United Kingdom.

The Government moved quickly on Public Health advice to update the red list of countries for travel to Gibraltar.

The Director of Public Health is in contact with colleagues in the United Kingdom to stay constantly up to date with the situation there and globally. Gibraltar already has a plan in place, should cases of the Omicron variant be detected here.

It is not yet known how much more transmissible this new variant is, how much protection the vaccine will offer against this new variant or whether the new variant will result in more severe illness. As a precaution, the Director of Public Health has advised that if positive cases of the new variant do occur in Gibraltar, their close contacts will be required to isolate for 10 days regardless of vaccination status. This is a prudent measure that will be kept under review.

All of these measures are in addition to the continued requirement for testing of all arrivals at Gibraltar airport and a requirement that all persons residing in or visiting Gibraltar who arrive via any of the other regional airports around Gibraltar from red listed countries should also submit to testing.

The Director of Public Health, Dr Helen Carter, said: ‘Gibraltar is constantly monitoring developments worldwide and already has a plan in place if the new Omicron variant is detected here. At the moment, the advice is to be vigilant. This means wearing a mask where you need to, keep to your social distance, wash your hands and call 111 to arrange a test as soon as you notice any symptoms.’

The Chief Minister, the Hon Fabian Picardo QC MP, said: 'We all have a responsibility to follow the advice from Public Health Gibraltar to ensure that we do everything possible to keep the spread of this new variant detected in the UK and elsewhere in check, insofar as may be reasonably possible. For that reason, we must ensure that all of us wear masks in shops and public transport. We are actively considering other measures and will make such further announcements as may be necessary. We all want to see our lives return to normal, but we cannot throw caution to the wind because we are fatigued by the virus. We must continue to adhere to the rules and use our common sense now that the Omicron strain has been detected in the UK and elsewhere.'