Spanish border guards began to carry out stricter checks on people leaving Gibraltar on Monday, 18 March , and refused entry to many non-Gibraltarians. The police demanded that any non-EU national, including British passport holders, provide evidence of their onward travel and accommodation reservations in Spain before allowing them to cross.
The extra Schengen border measures came as a surprise, including, it seems, to the Gibraltar government. On Monday afternoon the chief minister, Fabian Picardo, tweeted that the government had received reports that the measures were suddenly being applied, and that they would be taking the matter up with the Spanish and UK governments.
The controls appear to have been carried out on people crossing the border on foot, not in a vehicle. One British woman who is resident in Gibraltar decided to see what was happening on Monday evening, and spoke to SUR in English afterwards.
She said holders of Gibraltarian blue card residence permits and other third country nationals were being denied entry to Spain without a hotel booking and travel ticket, and when she spoke to a National Police officer carrying out the checks he said the measure came into effect on Monday and is "permanent". He also said he didn't understand it either.
The more stringent Schengen entry controls do not seem to apply to third country nationals who are officially resident in Spain, or to Gibraltarians with red residence cards.
Ironically, the British resident of Gibraltar that we spoke to said the police did allow her to cross the border after she told them firmly that she was making her way to a property she owns in another part of Spain and had not pre-booked her travel. This was despite the fact that she was carrying only a handbag and no luggage.
It is hard to analyse the situation within the context of the negotiations regarding Gibraltar's future relationship with the EU, which are believed to be close to agreement and would almost certainly mean that Gibraltar had tailor-made access to the Schengen area.
The Gibraltar government is expected to provide more details about the more stringent border checks later.