Working to flatten the curve, says TG

Dear Sir,

Though we understand the importance of unity, particularly in the implementation of Government warnings and in way we help each other fight through this crisis in our day to day lives, Together Gibraltar cannot, in good conscience, give the Government a moratorium on accountability. 

As an Opposition party, we recognise and applaud all the hard work and dedication that is being poured into the management of this crisis. We are supportive of Government, and in awe of the courage shown by all those working tirelessly in the front line. We have given Government considerable time and space to implement measures without saying a word.

However, at this stage, we have no other option but to publicly plead with the Government to consider implementing more aggressive measures of social distancing.

There is not much consensus over the best course of action to tackle this pandemic, but the only one that appears certain is, in our honest and humble opinion, not being adequately followed - extreme social distancing works to flatten the curve, and this is the only way we can avoid collapsing our healthcare system.

Schools should have been closed days ago, as well as all non-essential commerce and services. Instead, creche services should have been provided for healthcare workers and the parents who require it, including those that have no other option but to leave children with grandparents. More robust economic measures should have been announced to support businesses, while further encouraging them to send their workers home. We should have police patrolling the streets sending anyone violating the quarantine home.

Telling the community to stay home while simultaneously telling them to continue sending their children to school, or to continue operating their businesses as normal is causing confusion and a sense that we are applying half measures. We should apply WHO and global consensus, not the judgement that may be seen as based (even loosely) by an often dishonest and extremely erratic UK administration.

The economic measures presented by the Government could be stronger compared to what has been announced by other nations, particularly for our already illprotected private sector. Our public welfare network was lacking before the crisis, and this means many workers and businesses have been left to fend for themselves in a state of economic paralysis.

The economic stimulus is another fundamental public health measure: if business owners are adequately reassured, they will be more inclined to stop their activity and send their workers home. Pretending that only a few sectors are being affected means many businesses will be forced to try to keep operating.

We would like to see the Government announce an emergency package (of some 20% of our GDP) in line with other Western democracies. Our extremely successful economy should be able to allow for this and more.

We are not the only ones to express reasoned and supportive dissent.

Most Oppositions around the world have criticised their Governments for their actions and their inactions - and most of these politicians are not scientists. Democrats in America, Conservatives in Spain, Labour politicians in the UK, all of them have expressed divergences of opinion with their Government’s handling of the crisis.

Politicians can and should express their opinions as long as they back them up with the advice of experts and bona-fide scientific studies, and we honestly and truly believe that this consensus points towards implementing more aggressive measures than the ones implemented so far. Our job as a political party is to express opinions honestly, and responsibly, whether in agreement with our Government’s measures or not. We would like to point to all communications by the WHO on this matter in particular.

Unity in this moment is paramount, and we ask the entire community to comply with every Government request. We have been forwarding official warnings, and many of our members have offered to help as volunteers through official channels. Even though it will make little difference, we also commit to voting in favour of any bill that will grant Government further powers in order to tackle this pandemic.

Spain is struggling to catch up with the curve as we speak. Let’s heed all scientific warnings and the global consensus, and implement the most aggressive social isolation measures possible. We have little to lose, and plenty to gain. The more we isolate the better. The faster we do it the better. We urge Government to at least consider this option.

We would like to express our gratitude to all those heroes working in the frontline, taking care of our sick, protecting us, guaranteeing our supplies, and keeping our small but resilient nation moving forward in these difficult times.

Please stay safe, isolate aggressively and intelligently, and follow the health advice of our authorities.