Current Affairs

UK government introduces quarantine for Spain arrivals following surge in COVID-19 cases there

The government has announced that all travellers arriving in the UK from Spain will have to quarantine for 14 days, following an increase in cases in Catalonia since the easing of Spain’s lockdown.

The government has stopped the ‘travel corridor’ which was operating between Spain and the UK from today, Sunday 26 July, and all travellers from Spain will now have to comply with these new conditions.

The news has been met with some shock, some pointing out that certain parts of Spain, including Ibiza and the Canary Islands, have very few COVID-19 cases.

Britons will now have to reconsider planned holidays to Spain and decide whether the sun is worth the 14-day quarantine that follows.

The UK Foreign Office has now updated its advice:

“Spain was removed from the exempt list on Sunday 26 July 2020. If you arrive in England from Spain on or after 26 July you will need to self-isolate.”

The Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, told the BBC that the government “can’t make apologies” for introducing the quarantine, which came into effect just 6 hours after the announcement last night. It was also revealed that the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, is currently in Spain with his family. Many have criticised the U-turn, arguing that the new rules are unfair on holidaymakers who had not realised that they would have to enter quarantine upon their return to the UK.

On 25 July, there were 1,493 new cases of coronavirus reported within 24 hours in Catalonia. This has prompted a renewed closure of beaches and nightclubs to try and curb the spread through the populous province. Barcelona is the largest city in Catalonia and is a tourist hotspot; new cases will lead to a reduction in tourism and further damage a struggling Catalonian economy.

There are now concerns that these outbreaks will spread to Madrid, Spain’s capital, and lead to a ‘second wave’ of COVID-19. In Madrid, life has almost returned to normality with pools reopened, and nightclubs operating in a restricted capacity. However, there are some key signs that the coronavirus is still on everyone’s minds: masks are mandatory when entering shops; hand sanitiser is provided in every restaurant, shop and supermarket; there are limited capacities in all shops; restaurants have socially distanced tables, and everyone wears a mask in public.

There are concerns that these measures will not be enough to control the spread of the virus and that British tourists have caused this spike in cases. There were incidents reported in Magaluf that drunken British holidaymakers were ignoring the local guidelines, eschewing social distancing and discarding their facemasks.

Phoebe Jowett Smith

Phoebe is a student at Jesus College, she studies Spanish and Arabic and is about to start her third year, after spending her second year living in the Middle East.