No deal Brexit planning means Gibraltar is prepared for coronavirus shutdown
Fabian Picardo, Chief Minister of the British overseas territory, who rolled out wide-ranging measures to curb the spread of the illness on Monday, including instructing people over the age of 70 to stay in their homes. But Mr Picardo also said the Rock’s proactive approach to Brexit stood it in good stead in the face of the current global crisis. An HM Government of Gibraltar spokesman told Express.co.uk: “For many months we have been worst-case planning for a possible no-deal Brexit.
“These plans involved such issues as the stockpiling of medical supplies and the possible actions to be taken in the event of a less fluid frontier.
“Ironically, these plans have given us a head start as the current situation brings increased pressures on our hospital and as we see Spain’s state of emergency slowing the flow of cross-frontier workers.”
Arrangements already in place could enable Gibraltar to retain key workers who normally cross the border from Spain daily, the spokesman said.
He added: “Under our plans for a No Deal Brexit, we were ready to provide temporary accommodation for key personnel who could not easily cross the border. These plans may now come in extremely handy.”
In accordance with no deal Brexit planning, committees have already been set up to deal with every aspect of life on the Rock, with a clear command structure in place.
In addition, in response to a request for assistance, more than 800 people have so far come forward offering voluntary help.”
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In a statement broadcast on the Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) earlier this week, Mr Picardo said: “I want to thank our Supermarket and grocery providers for having secured our supply chains and ensured that Gibraltar has and will have the supplies its needs at this exceptional time.
“There was never any need to panic buy and our supply chains will remain robust throughout this period.
“In any event,the Government has contingency plans in place in the event that they were to become necessary.
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“Preparing for an expected hard Brexit that has not yet materialised has prepared us well for these unexpected circumstances.”
Mr Picardo met with Spain’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Arancha Gonzalez Laya, on Wednesday to coordinate their strategies for coping with the pandemic in an unusual display of solidarity.
He later told reporters: “We had the opportunity of reflecting on the actions being taken to slow down the spread of the coronavirus in Europe.
“The minister has been very clear to me that she is looking to work to ensure that we continue to have the fluidity of persons and goods necessary that we need to have and she’s been positive and supportive throughout in her communication.
“I thanked her also for reaching out to me at this difficult and sensitive time.
“We’ve been clear together that enemy here is the virus which knows no borders and which we’re going to approach in that way.”
Speaking in November, Mr Picardo’s deputy, Dr Joseph Garcia, told Express.co.uk: “As soon as the referendum happened on 26, 2016, by September, we had a detailed economic impact assessment as to the effect of Brexit in every single area of the economy, the private sector and indeed the public sector.
“It gave us a good base on which to build going forward.
“We have made very detailed preparations for a no-deal Brexit.
“So for example, one thing that was identified very early on was that the main single issue affecting Gibraltar would be the land frontier with Spain, and how that frontier would operate once we left the European Union.
“In a sense it’s easier for us than the UK because we are not in the customs union and we have never been in it, we don’t manufacture anything and we have no agriculture, and then no fishing industry, so it makes it less complicated for us than it is perhaps for the United Kingdom.”
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