Spain on Monday announced that it is closing its borders in a bid to deal with the coronavirus crisis. From midnight tonight, only Spanish citizens and residents will be able to enter the country via land borders, as well as non-Spaniards who cite reasons of force majeure. Freight will still be able to enter the country in order to guarantee the supply of goods.
The announcement was made on Monday afternoon by Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska, who explained that border controls would be reintroduced later tonight. The measure came shortly after the European Commission proposed a ban on non-European Union citizens from entering the 27-country bloc for a period of 30 days. This measure will have to be approved by heads of state and government before it goes ahead.
Spain today registered a thousand new cases of coronavirus in just 24 hours. The Health Ministry today reported that there are 9,191 infections in the country, and that 309 people have died from the Covid-19 disease. Fatalities reported by Spain’s regions today bring the total death toll to 334.
“The prime minister has already stated that this week it is very likely that we will reach 10,000 infections, but our objective is to flatten the curve,” Grande-Marlaska said on Monday. “The Spanish government has agreed to reestablish Spanish land border controls. The measure has been taken within the Covid-19 containment framework.”
Marlaska added that the measure would not affect foreign diplomatic personnel and pointed out that the step had been adopted in accordance with other EU countries. National Police, the Civil Guard, regional police in the Basque Country, Navarre and Catalonia, and the armed forces will be drafted in to establish the controls.
“This is a necessary initiative to pursue the ultimate objective of the government and society as a whole, which is to slow the spread of the coronavirus,” said Grande-Marlaska. “The Spanish are going to act to protect the health of all of our citizens and to beat the virus.”
Grande-Marlaska made clear that Spaniards in the United Kingdom would have no problem returning to Spain, despite the fact that the country left the European Union earlier this year, in a process commonly known as “Brexit.” “We are in the transitory period of Brexit ahead of the definitive relationship between the EU and the United Kingdom,” he said, adding: “We are concerned about the health of the citizens who are in Spain, with no distinctions made on the basis of ethnicity or religion.”
The minister concluded his press conference by saying that “everyone must have confidence in the institutions. We are all working together: the government of Spain, the regions, local administrations, the state security forces and the armed forces. With this momentum, we will shortly flatten the curve of infections caused by the virus.”
English version by Simon Hunter.