The Junta de Andalucía has asked Spain’s central government to strengthen controls at the border with Gibraltar in the face of the increase in infections by the new strain of coronavirus that was first identified in the UK.
The new variant is more easily transmitted and the regional government has claimed that it is already affecting the neighbouring municipality of La Línea de la Concepción in Cadiz province that has seen an increase in cases.
The Junta’s Jesús Aguirre, has written to Spain’s Minister of Health, Salvador Illa, has requested the national government to adopt the measures "it deems necessary."
Specifically, the Junta has asked for "the establishment of control measures in the transit of people at the border since, otherwise, we could find a greater expansion of the incidence of this new strain."
Gibraltar has this week introduced new restrictions on the Rock in response to a continual sharp rise in Covid-19 cases on the Rock. On Sunday afternoon chief minister Fabian Picardo announced a curfew from 10pm to 6am, starting that same evening, and all non-essential shops have had to close with effect from today, Monday, as well as hairdressers and beauty salons.
The new measures are for an initial two-week period, until 10 January, and came with a warning that a full lockdown and border restrictions could be brought into effect if this ‘circuit break’ or ‘firebreak’ is not sufficiently effective.
The R rate in Gibraltar is now 1.79, and figures issued on Sunday made bleak reading with 482 active cases of Covid-19 and 1,703 people in self-isolation including a large number of frontline workers, putting health care services under pressure. The chief minister said the virus is behaving differently now and is spreading twice as fast as it did before.