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New Spanish measures not expected to impact on cross-border movement essential to Gib

The Gibraltar Government said it does not expect any impact on vital cross-border movement of goods and people after Spain further tightened its lockdown measures and announced all non-essential workers must now stay at home.

Until now, Spain’s lockdown allowed people to leave home to go to work, as well as to carry out essential tasks such as shopping for food and medicines.

In the two weeks since it came into force, cross-border movement of people and goods has dropped to minimal level as a result of separate restrictions imposed on either side of the border.

That means those who are crossing for work reasons are operating in essential sectors covered by both Spain’s lockdown decree and the regulations imposed by the Gibraltar Government here.

Since last week's halt on construction work in Gibraltar, for example, the number of pedestrians crossing the border has dropped to 19,000 over the past week, down 88.5% from 172,000 in the comparable period last year. Vehicle traffic has likewise dropped year-on-year by 75% over the past week.

Speaking at the 4pm press conference in No.6 Convent Place, Dr Joseph Garcia, the Deputy Chief Minister, said the Gibraltar Government had received assurances from Spanish authorities “at a local level” that the new measures would not impact on those currently able to cross.

“Our information is that this is not expected to impact on Gibraltar in any way,” Dr Garcia said.

“At the moment, we are not expecting any impact.”

The tighter measures were announced in Spain as the country’s death toll rose by 838 from Saturday to Sunday to 6,528. Spain also saw infections rise to 78,797 from 72,248 the day before and is second only to Italy in fatalities.

In a televised address to the nation on Saturday night, Mr Sanchez announced that all non-essential workers must stay at home for two weeks, his government's latest measure in the fight against coronavirus.

He said workers would receive their usual salaries but would have to make up lost hours at a later date. The measure would last from March 30 to April 9.

The lockdown decree published a fortnight ago by the Spanish Government allowed a number of exceptions for essential businesses including supermarkets, pharmacies, food stores and other such sectors, which were allowed to remain open despite the rules.

A government official told El Pais those sectors would still be allowed to continue operating under the latest tighter measures.

The expectation here is that this leeway will in turn be reflected for workers employed in those areas on this side of the border.

Unions in Spain welcomed the measures and business groups CEOE and CEPYME said that while they would comply with the new rule, "it will generate an unprecedented huge impact on the Spanish economy, especially in sectors such as industry".

The slowdown "may lead to a deeper crisis in the economy that could become social", they warned in a statement.

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