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Lockdown and life as a copywriter in Gibraltar

In this May blog, I thought I would regale you about how life is treating your freelance copywriter in Gibraltar

First, how about a little update on the matter of COVID-19 in Gibraltar? I can tell you that, today, 29th May 2020, the number of cases stands at five active and no deaths to date.  These active cases are hovering around single figures.  With such low numbers and no deaths, the propitious unlocking of Gibraltar is underway.  Gibraltar Government’s assiduous measures of protecting the residents of Gibraltar means that, once again, we can venture outdoors.  Businesses are somewhat back to normal with the opening of Gibraltar’s parliament, museums, library and a limited number of galleries and exhibitions. Whether this lockdown crisis serves to improve Gibraltar, or whether we simply fall back into our old ways we do not know. Still, one thing is sure; the cumulative PDA for Gibraltar’s Chief Minister will endure for the long term.

For a non-Gibraltarian living and working here, looking back on the first few weeks of COVID isolation, I can honestly say that lockdown has been a somewhat tolerable experience.  Of course mostly because of the limited number of active cases. Quarantined in our metaphoric bubble, it is true to say that we narrowly escaped the devastating effects of this virus. It lurked at our door during those sinister early days of the Spanish virus epidemic just across the border and the reports had us all very worried with Spanish daily numbers of active cases and deaths doubling at an alarming rate.

Is it incongruous to seek an agreeable component within the context of the virus and lockdown in Gibraltar? I think not; we have witnessed the cementing of a community showing genuine support and helping to keep us sane, turning a precarious situation into a bearable experience.  Many likened the lockdown to wartime; we volunteered and pulled together to help the vulnerable and the needy.  The strong went out on the front line to work, and the frail listened to the warnings and stayed home, safe. The heroes, previously ignored, defended us, on standby to take on the mammoth task of caring for the sick.  Every single day at 8 pm we paid homage, with genuinely felt applause, to those delivering food and necessities, and those going about essential tasks like clearing the streets of rubbish, cleaning and disinfecting, battling with an invisible, deadly enemy.  Images of segregated elderly parents gazing down, tearful, from upper floor apartments at younger family members will endure for many years as COVID nostalgia captured through a lens.

What of the future, now that we are relatively safe and through the dark COVID tunnel? Purely for selfish reasons, it would be wonderful if Gibraltar might stay tourist free for a little bit longer.  It is hard to believe that this independent and aloof country was, only three months ago, a thriving tourist and sequentially congested hotspot!

An improved environment is one decisive factor to cause newsworthy attention. Fewer tourists equal fewer cars, fewer cruise liners, fewer aeroplanes, less consumption and less waste.  Hitherto unwitnessed and impressive views across the Straits of Gibraltar, resulting in beautiful social media snaps of the nearby Atlas Mountains, stunning clean waters teeming with aquatic life, and fresh air to deeply breathe.  This is God’s country, as he intended, and it is pure once more.  It will be interesting to see if these wonderful phenomena will endure for long.

There is still some effort required from those of us lucky to live in this beautiful country. Those hoards of tourists, generally blamed for every misdemeanour in Gibraltar, stand acquitted from the litter trashing events highlighted lately on social media. Recently posted images of discarded drink cartons, plastic bottles, wet wipes, PPE equipment, strewn across the natural landscape of the Rock itself, with fast food leftovers woefully discarded on Gibraltar’s beautiful beaches. What is up with people that they cannot take a short walk to one of the many bins strategically placed everywhere?

Perhaps the most significant positive to come out of COVID is that we have never before seen Gibraltar look so beautiful. When things get back to normal, we need to go the extra mile with a combined effort to keep Gibraltar looking and feeling good. Caring for the community, for the environment and our beautiful location requires maturity and making good choices. There is no excuse, and I am reminded about a quote by the iconic Florence Nightingale when she was interviewed about her achievements:

“I attribute my success to this: I never gave or took an excuse.”
― Florence Nightingale

Finally, in the words of another wartime hero, “your country needs you!”

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