Gibraltar introduces new Covid-19 measures and liaises with the Junta over restrictions

Gibraltar airport.
Gibraltar airport. / SUR
  • It appears that the Spain/Gibraltar border is treated as international rather than regional, so Andalucía cannot restrict movement across it

There was some initial confusion in Gibraltar and the Campo de Gibraltar area of Spain yesterday, after the Junta de Andalucía announced on Wednesday evening that the boundaries of the region were to close at midnight on Thursday. Nobody seemed sure how that might affect the Gibraltar border.

Earlier on Wednesday, Gibraltar's chief minister Fabian Picardo and the president of the Junta, Juanma Moreno, held a telephone conversation in which Picardo explained the new measures he had announced for Gibraltar on Tuesday afternoon and Moreno gave details of what he was planning to announce later that day.

The Andalusian restrictions include locking down the cities and provinces of Granada, Seville and Jaén and mini-lockdowns in other towns, villages and areas throughout the region. In a press release following this conversation, the Gibraltar leader said: "We discussed the frontier crossing and I received assurances about essential traffic and workers being able to continue to enter and exit Andalucía as I confirmed also our random testing facility for cross frontier workers."

This sounded as if the situation would be similar to that of the State of Alarm and lockdownin Spain in the spring, when essential workers were permitted to cross the border into Gibraltar if they showed their contracts of employment.

However, on Thursday it appeared that the Gibraltar border is considered an international border, not a regional one, in which case only the Spanish government has the power to restrict movement across it. This means that as long as people from Gibraltar comply with the regulations when in Spain, they can cross freely as usual, and vice versa, and people from Spain can cross the border to catch flights from Gibraltar airport.

In the meantime, with active Covid-19 cases continuing to rise, the Gibraltar goverment has stepped up testing, made masks obligatory in busy areas of the town centre such as Casemates, Main Street and Irish Town, among others, and is banning "loitering" at Chatham Counterguard between 11pm and 1am on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.