The Spanish Government has offered help to Portugal “within its possibilities” in the face of the situation in the neighboring country, where the data on deaths and infections by Covid-19 are at maximum levels, which has led to the temporary limitation of movement in the border between the two countries. Sources from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs consulted by Europa Press have indicated that the department headed by Arancha González Laya has contacted the Portuguese ambassador in Madrid, Joao Mira-Gomes, “to make available help within the possibilities” of Spain, without for the moment there has been an express request from the Portuguese authorities.
According to the sources, the Government is also aware that at least two autonomous communities have also transferred to the Portuguese Executive their willingness to help to the extent of their possibilities, without it being known for now whether this offer has been accepted. The Portuguese Embassy in Madrid they have confirmed to Europa Press that “Spain has offered help to Portugal due to the pandemic situation and support modalities are being studied”, without offering further details regarding the assistance offered. Nor has González Laya been more explicit when asked in an interview on the program ‘Al Rojo Vivo’ on LaSexta.
Thus, he stressed that the two countries have worked and are working “side by side” concerning the pandemic and that there is “direct contact every day at all levels”, including between the President of the Government, Pedro Sanchez, and the Portuguese Prime Minister, Antonio Costa. “Sometimes Portugal helps us, other times we support Portugal, this is what we have been doing and that is how we will continue to do so,” the Foreign Minister has limited herself to saying, arguing that even if this assistance does not appear on Twitter or the front pages of newspapers it is framed in the “natural relationship” that the two countries have as neighbors.
This Sunday, the Chancellor of Austria, Sebastian Kurz, offered to transfer to his country some patients in intensive care, not necessarily affected by the coronavirus, and relieve pressure on the Portuguese health system, on the verge of collapse. Besides, it has also been confirmed that the German Army will send medical teams to Portugal, according to the Portuguese Ministry of Defense.
Meanwhile, Spain and Portugal reintroduced internal controls at the common border at midnight on Sunday until February 10 to help curb infections. However, Spanish citizens and their spouse or partner, residents in Spain, residents of other Member States or the Schengen Associated States who go to their usual place of residence, duly accredited and those who go to transit or stay in Spanish territory for any exclusive labor reason, which will include cross-border workers, health workers, and transport workers.
Besides, the transit of those persons who document causes of force majeure or situation of need, or for humanitarian reasons, and foreign personnel accredited as members of diplomatic missions, consular offices, and international organizations located in Spain, is contemplated, provided that they are of displacements linked to the performance of their official functions, as well as the participants in State trips and the members of the Security Forces and Armed Forces to exercise their functions. The entrances and exits of the Spanish territory through the internal land border with Portugal can only be made through the authorized passages and during the hours established.