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Residents of Gibraltar now able to cross into Spain

by Brian Reyes and Maria Jesus Corrales

The Gibraltar Government has confirmed that British and EU residents of Gibraltar are now able to cross the frontier into Spain.

The change follows direct contact between the Chief Minister and the Spanish Minister for the Interior, and comes in the wake of confusion over mixed messages earlier this week about a return to normal border flow.

Once in Spain, Gibraltar residents must comply with the ongoing requirements of Phase 3 of the Spanish de-escalation rules from the State of Alert.

Residents of Spain are also now able to move freely across the border and no longer require work contracts, a spokesman for Spain’s Ministry of the Interior told this newspaper, but must abide by public health regulations and guidance on either side.

The decision by the Ministry of the Interior to permit entry into Spain for Gibraltar residents exempts them from the requirement to keep 14 days of quarantine.

Anyone wishing to cross will need a Gibraltar ID or residence card to show residence in Gibraltar.

“I am very grateful to Minister Fernando Grande- Marlaska for his support and intervention in respect of this matter,” said Chief Minister Fabian Picardo.

“I know many people will have been for many weeks now wanting to see loved ones and this decision now permits fluidity to be almost back to normal.”

“I urge people to familiarise themselves with the relevant rules under Spanish law for movement in Spain under Phase 3 of their de-escalation plans before going into Spain so they do not inadvertently breach the rules.”

On Monday, there was confusion after Spain’s Ministry for the Interior sent mixed messages over prospects for a return to normality at the border between Gibraltar and Spain.

The Spanish ministry signalled that residents of Gibraltar would be allowed to cross into Spain as the country eased its own lockdown restrictions and regions including Andalucia moved into a new phase of the exit strategy.

But the initial announcement was premature because while the policy had been agreed, the logistics of putting it into practice had not been finalised.

On Wednesday, with the details ironed out and instructions transmitted to immigration police on the Spanish side of the border, the measure finally came into force.

For weeks, Covid-19 restrictions on movement within Spain have had a knock-on impact on border flow that means only residents in Spain and cross-border workers are allowed to cross.

But Spain has not applied the stricter restrictions in place at its borders with France and Portugal to its frontiers with Gibraltar and Andorra, where the limitations on movement arise solely from the wider lockdown measures inside the country.

That means that as restrictions on movement are eased within Andalucia, which entered phase three of Spain’s exit strategy yesterday, this is now being reflected on who is able to cross into Spain from the Rock.

“A principle of reciprocity is being applied given that Spain is now in phase three [of the lockdown exit],” a spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior said.

“The restriction that was being applied was based on Article 7 of the state of emergency decree of March 14, in other words, phase zero [which restricted all but essential movement inside Spain].”

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article, including the headline, has been updated to clarify that the measure applies to residents of Gibraltar, not just EU residents.