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Gibraltar Government urges no travel to Spain after Madrid announces state of emergency

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez presides over an extraordinary cabinet meeting concerning the coronavirus outbreak at the Moncloa Palace in Madrid, Spain, March 14, 2020. Moncloa Palace/Handout

The Gibraltar Government has urged residents in Gibraltar to avoid all travel to Spain after the Spanish Government announced a state of emergency to counter the Covid-19 outbreak that is sweeping across the globe.

The government said all Gibraltarians resident in Spain and all cross frontier workers should familiarise themselves with the terms of the Spanish decree and the effect that the restrictions on movement might have on them.

The decree was announced on Saturday and comes into effect immediately.

“Her Majesty's Government of Gibraltar calls on all Gibraltarians resident in Spain and on all cross frontier workers to familiarise themselves with the terms of the said decree and the effect that the restrictions on movement might have on them,” No.6 Convent Place said in a statement.

“Additionally, cross frontier workers are recommended to check with their employers to determine whether their places of work will be operating on Monday at all.”

The decree places restrictions on all movement except for essential reasons including work or purchasing food and other essential goods.

On Saturday, the Gibraltar Health Authority began issuing its cross-border staff letters to prove their employment in Gibraltar.

The Gibraltar Government has also implemented restrictions on restaurants that may also impact on many frontier workers in the catering trade.

“Noting the terms of the said decree, Her Majesty's Government of Gibraltar therefore recommends that residents of Gibraltar should not travel into Spain, on foot, in a vehicle or by any other means, unless such travel is for essential purposes,” No.6 said in a statement.

It added that all Gibraltar residents who need to visit Spain for reasons which are essential should familiarise themselves with the terms of the state of emergency declared in that country.

"We share a land frontier with Spain and it is important therefore that those of our citizens who live in Spain should be aware of the terms of the state of emergency which have now been decreed in Spain,” said Chief Minister Fabian Picardo.

“We are clarifying with Spanish colleagues that those coming to work in Gibraltar will be able to do so in the normal way, but workers in the catering sector will need to get confirmation from their employers of whether or not the businesses that they work for will be operating next week.”

“I believe that the measures being taken by the Spanish government are, no doubt, being taken on the proper public health advice and are designed for a country of Spain's characteristics.”

“We must respect them and as a neighbour we must assist them in these measures having the required effect.”

“We should entirely avoid travelling to Spain for any reason that is not essential and, if in Spain, any Gibraltarian must ensure we adhere to the terms of the decree made by the Spanish President today.”

“The virus knows no frontiers and we will continue our own work, based on our public health professionals' advice, to implement the best plan for Gibraltar to slow down the inevitable spread of the virus in Gibraltar and in that way help the most vulnerable in our community.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article has been updated to reflect the fact that the restrictions on travel come into force immediately. There had been confusion initially as to whether the restrictions would apply immediately or as from Monday 8am.