Spain reopens border with Gibraltar
GIBRALTAR: Spanish authorities late on Monday reopened the border with Gibraltar, which was closed hours earlier after a virus-stricken luxury cruise ship docked in the tiny British colony.
The border was reopened without incident at 8:00 pm (1900 GMT) in the presence of Spanish Health Minister Ana Pastor, who announced that a cordon sanitaire would remain in place for the next 48 hours, officials said.
Pastor added, however, that there was “no risk” of any spread of the severe stomach bug that struck down about 500 passengers on board the ship.
The British cruise ship Aurora, on a trip around the Mediterranean, sailed to Gibraltar when Greek authorities refused to allow it to dock on Friday after the passengers came down with the bug.
After a 12-hour stop at the territory’s cruise ship harbour of North Mole, the plush ship late Monday again set sail, bound for the British port of Southampton.
A Spanish health ministry spokesman earlier told AFP that the border had been closed as “a preventative measure.”
Officials refused to allow 50 passengers to disembark from the ship as a precautionary measure, Gibraltar’s chief minister Peter Caruana said.
Gibraltar authorities said that only 11 people out of the 1,800 passengers and 800 crew on the Aurora were still suffering from the so-called Norovirus, which causes severe diarrhoea and vomiting.
It was the first time Spain has closed its border with Gibraltar, which is situated on the northern side of the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea, since 1969 under Spanish dictator General Franco. Free travel between the two sides was only fully restored in 1985.
British Foreign Minister Jack Straw expressed regret at Spain’s decision to close the border, calling the move “unnecessary and disproportionate.” —AFP