Spain’s Consulates-General in Italy have attended in recent days to close on 5,500 enquiries from Spaniards displaced or resident in the country between the catchment areas covered by Rome, Milan, Naples and Genoa.
Following the announcement of measures in the extraordinary edition of the Official State Gazette (Spanish acronym: BOE), the Consulates-General recorded a strong increase in emergency consular phone enquiries, electronic mails and requests for information through the social media.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation said it urges calm over the situation that many Spaniards are enduring abroad, and strongly recommends that they follow the indications of the local authorities and scrupulously respect the health measures.
Spain’s network of Consulates have stepped up the number of staff to field emergency phone calls by five, which are open 24 hours a day, as well as the different social media channels to remain in permanent contact with Spaniards displaced to other countries. Given the saturation and to guarantee better attention, only those directly affected are asked to use these channels. Travelers affected are encouraged to contact their travel agency or other transport operators with a view to resolving, quickly and with as little inconvenience possible, their situation.
“Given the complexity of this time, everyone must make an effort, and hence we stress the importance of following the travel recommendations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, as well as the general indications offered by the Ministry of Health,” the Spanish government said.
The Consulate-General in Rome, which covers the centre of the country and Sardinia, received as many as 1,600 enquiries on Tuesday alone from people requesting information on the suspension of direct flights to Spain.
A similar situation took place within the catchment area covered by Milan (northern region), where the number of people who have contacted the Consulate stands at 1,800, while a total of 1,400 enquiries were made at the office in Naples. The Consulate in Genoa received a little under 400 enquiries, the lowest number of all recorded, probably due to its proximity to the French border.
As regards one-off cases, the Spanish Consul in Rome personally attended to a group of 40 people at the gate of the Consulate until 6 pm, in addition to a total of 70 people attended on Wednesday at the counter.
The Consulate in Naples, in turn, has begun to record a gradual decline in the number of calls over the course of the day. It is thought that most of the Spaniards present in this catchment area, which includes the south of the country and Sicily, have left the area.