Britain favours Spanish quarantine decision
MADRID/LONDON (SPAIN/UK) – British foreign minister Dominic Raab on Sunday stood firm on his government’s decision to enforce a two-week coronavirus quarantine on travellers returning from Spain. This led to an outburst of anger and confusion among tourists.
The move to get Spain on a safe-travel list was announced late on Saturday and came into effect from midnight.
Raab defended the imposition of the quarantine as a “real-time response” and said it was due to a rise in Spanish coronavirus cases reported on Friday.
He said on Sky News, “We can’t make apologies…we must be able to take swift, decisive action.”
The opposition Labour Party’s health policy chief, Jonathan Ashworth, bashed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government for its handling of the measure.
The move will drastically affect the Spanish tourism sector even as it is starting to show signs of recovery from months of coronavirus lockdowns and travel restrictions.
Emily Harrison, who was taking a flight to London at Madrid’s Barajas airport, had to face the prospect of having to self-isolate for two weeks.
Harrison, from Essex, said, “It’s really bad because it’s just come all of a sudden, it’s not given very much time to prepare so everyone is now panicking.”
“We had a wedding to go to and we had plans to visit friends and family who we haven’t seen in a very long time and now we are going to have to cancel all those plans, so it’s really quite upsetting.”
Spain had been on a list of countries that the British government had said were safe for travellers to visit – meaning tourists returning home would not have to go into quarantine.
“We’re quite frustrated by it to be honest, because it actually feels safer in Spain,” British tourist Carolyne Lansell said.
A Spanish Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said on Saturday evening that Spain “respects decisions of the United Kingdom”.
The British decision follows the steps taken by Norway on Friday to impose a 10-day quarantine again for people arriving from Spain. France has advised people not to travel to Spain’s northeastern region of Catalonia.
Tourism in Spain accounts for 12% of GDP. Britons contributed more than 20% of foreign visitors to Spain last year.
Angel Tavares, head of European Economics at Oxford Economics consulting, “This decision is an absolute disaster for the recovery, there’s no other way to see this.”
The British foreign ministry has advised against all but agreed to only essential travel to mainland Spain.
(Photos syndicated via Reuters)
This story has been edited by BH staff and is published from a syndicated field.