LONDON: All travellers arriving in the United Kingdom from Spain from Sunday will have to quarantine themselves for 14 days to ensure they do not spread coronavirus, Scotland’s government said.
The measure, coming into force from midnight (2300 GMT on Saturday), will deal a major blow to Spain, which is trying to recoup its tourism season after the sector took a battering from COVID-19 lockdowns and travel restrictions earlier in the year.
It will also hit airlines and travel companies struggling to get back to business.
“Spain will be removed from the list of countries exempt from quarantine requirements due to an increased number of cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the last few days,” Scotland’s government said in a statement.
All travellers to UK from Spain to face quarantine, Scotland says
“The decision, also made by the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland and Wales as well as the UK Government, has been made to reduce the risk of the transmission of the virus by those travelling from Spain,” it added.
The United Kingdom’s four constituent nations – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – each set their own COVID-19 policies, but follow similar rules in most cases.
Britain’s health and transport ministries had no immediate comment.
The Spanish Foreign ministry and the office of the Spanish prime minister were not immediately available for comment.
The British move follows steps this week by several European countries after cases of coronavirus began to rise again in recent weeks in Spain.
On Friday Norway said it will re-impose a 10-day quarantine requirement for people arriving from Spain from Saturday, while France advised people not to travel to the northeastern region of Catalonia.
The Sunday Times’ political editor, Tim Shipman, said on Twitter earlier on Saturday that a “second wave of Covid-19 there has prompted (the) decision to kick Spain off the safe country list”.
The safe country list is a list of countries that the UK government has said are safe for travellers to visit – meaning people do not have to go into quarantine on return home. Such quarantines are likely to put people off taking a holiday in “non-safe” countries.
Britons make a big contribution to Spain’s tourism sector, which in turn accounts for some 12% of GDP, according to the Spanish National Statistics Institute.
Last year 83.7 million tourists travelled to Spain, of whom 18.08 million were British, making them the largest group by nationality, according to the institute.
A ‘SAFE’ COUNTRY
On Friday, Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya insisted her country was safe to visit.
She told CNN television that like many countries around the world that have managed to control the disease, Spain “has outbreaks but the governments — both national and regional — are working to isolate cases as soon as they appear”.
Spain was one of the worst hit countries in Europe by the pandemic, with more than 290,000 cases, and more than 28,000 deaths. It imposed very strict lockdown measures to contain the spread, gradually easing them earlier this summer.
But there have been outbreaks in recent weeks, with Catalonia one of the hotspots.
Catalonia, which includes many popular tourist resorts as well as the city of Barcelona, reported 1,493 new coronavirus cases and three deaths on Saturday. The regional government has urged residents of Barcelona to stay at home.
Regional officials have also ordered all discos in Catalonia to shut from Saturday for the next 15 days, while bars, restaurants and casinos must shut by midnight.
Britain itself has been the worst hit country in Europe by the pandemic, with more than 328,000 cases and an official death toll of more than 45,600.
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