UK excluded Spain from list of safe countries
The UK government on July 25 advised against all but essential travel to mainland Spain and told travellers returning from the country from July 26 to self-isolate for 14 days. British authorities removed Spain from its list of safe countries, or so-called travel corridors, on midnight on Saturday, as Spain reported a spike in COVID-19 cases and as Catalonia shut nightlife venues in an attempt to prevent a second wave of the virus, Euronews writes in the article Coronavirus: Spain wants UK to reconsider 'unjust' quarantine rule.
“We can’t make apologies...we must be able to take swift, decisive action,” British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told Sky News on Sunday. In response, Europe's largest holiday company TUI said on Sunday it would cancel all flights to mainland Spain until August 9. On Monday, the British government updated its advice against all non-essential travel to Spain to include the Balearic and Canary Islands. This came despite far lower infection rates in these areas than in other parts of Spain and appeals from the regional authorities for exemptions from the new UK rule.
"I think it's very important to stop the spread but it's really annoying that there has absolutely been no warning," said Helena, who was flying back to the UK from Madrid on Sunday in comments to the Associated Press.
"It's an absolute nightmare for everyone involved for the holidaymakers who are planning on coming out, the people who are here," said Georgie Frost, a British personal finance journalist who is currently in Spain's southeastern Murcia region visiting her partner. She told Euronews she is "fortunate" that she is not forking out on accommodation and she has her work equipment with her as she thought the situation could arise. She is due to come back to the UK on August 11 but does not know whether she will extend her stay if the quarantine rule stays in place.
The tourism sector, which makes up for 12% of Spain's GDP, is already on its knees and is bound to be badly hit by the measure.
Tourists are not the only ones who are being affected by the change in the British government guidance. Ian Rutter, a British citizen living in Andalusia, southern Spain, was set to fly back to the UK on Wednesday to join his grieving family after the death of his mother and brother in April. He was not able to travel during that period due to lockdown restrictions. "We couldn’t get back for the funerals and this was our chance to be together as a family to grieve," he told Euronews. "I doubt if the hotels we have reserved will want us in such circumstances". Rutter said that as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel helpline is only open from Monday to Friday he has "no idea" how to get advice on his situation.
Meanwhile, The UK’s transport secretary Grant Shapps, who is currently in Spain, will also have to self-isolate for 14 days upon his return.
Spain recorded 280 new cases of COVID-19 in 24 hours on Friday, three times more than two weeks ago. It comes less than a month after the country ended its lockdown. The country is one of Europe's hardest hit by the pandemic, with more than 28,000 people killed by the virus and over 272,000 infections, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO).
The Spanish government said on Sunday that the situation was "under control". "The outbreaks are located, have been isolated and controlled," the foreign ministry told the AFP news agency.