Spanish government insists coronavirus is under control after UK introduces quarantine

‘Spain is safe, it is safe for Spaniards, it is safe for tourists,’ says foreign minister

Kate Ng
Sunday 26 July 2020 17:32
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Travellers returning to the UK from Spain on the last-minute quarantine rules

Following Britain’s sudden re-imposition of a two-week quarantine on traveller returning from Spain, the Spanish government has insisted the coronavirus outbreak there is under control and the country is safe for tourists and locals.

Spain’s foreign minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya told reporters on Sunday that “most new cases are asymptomatic” and the ministry is in talks with the UK to exclude travellers returning from the Balearic islands and the Canary islands from the quarantine measures.

“As in every other country, we are seeing outbreaks, which are perfectly under control,” she said. “Most new cases are asymptomatic. This shows the great effort in identifying and controlling them.”

The Foreign Office removed Spain from a safe-travel list on Saturday evening with almost immediate effect, and advised against all but essential travel to mainland Spain.

It comes after coronavirus cases in Spain have tripled in the last two weeks, rising from 8.8 cases per 100,000 earlier this month to 27.4 per 100,000. 971 new infections were recorded on Thursday, the biggest daily increase since the country’s lockdown lifted, with a further 922 on Friday.

On the World Health Organisation’s ranking of countries with most infections, Spain is 12th on the list with 272,421 cumulative cases, whilst the UK is three spaces above it with 298,685 infections.

Dominic Raab warned British tourists they will face “uncertainty” around their summer holidays and admitted the government could not “guarantee” other countries or territories would not be removed from the list if there were new surges in Covid-19 transmission rates.

The decision has been criticised as “shambolic”, with ministers concerned British tourists have been left “confused and distressed” over their summer plans, which many have only just managed to get back on track.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge programme: “There are holidaymakers in Spain at the moment confused and distressed, there are people about to go on holiday to Spain and the islands like Tenerife who are confused, and they don’t know whether their employers will allow them to take two weeks’ quarantine – the government is just saying, ‘we hope that employers co-operate’.

“Well, to be frank, I hope I win the lottery on Saturday but that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.”

Last week, Norway reimposed a 10-day quarantine for travellers arriving from Spain, while France advised people not to travel to Catalonia.

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