Spain worries neighbours

World's top tourist destination

30 July 2020 | Economics

We are a secure destination that has made preparations and strengthened itself to deal with the virus and any outbreaks. Maria Jesus Montero, Governments spokesperson: Spain

After Britain's quarantine move and a travel warning from France, Germany became the latest country to advise Tuesday against holidays in parts of Spain with a surge in virus cases.

Although many are desperate for a holiday after months of lockdown, governments are concerned about what they might bring home, with Berlin warning against travel to three areas of northern Spain, including the hugely popular Catalan coast.

The call followed warnings from France against travel to Catalonia and Britain's decision to quarantine anyone arriving from Spain for 14 days.

As one of the world's top tourist destinations, it has been a major blow to Spain which relies heavily on British tourism.

Prime minister Pedro Sanchez quickly hit back at the move, denouncing it as "unbalanced" and insisting that Spain's most popular tourist destinations "might even be safer" than the UK.

"We want to send a clear message. We are a secure destination that has made preparations and strengthened itself to deal with the virus and any outbreaks," said government spokeswoman Maria Jesus Montero.

But British prime minister Boris Johnson defended the decision in light of "the signs of a second wave of the pandemic" in Europe.

"I'm afraid if we do see signs of a second wave in other countries, it is really our job, our duty to act swiftly and decisively to stop re infecting and travellers coming back from those places and seeding the disease here in the UK," he said.

Madrid had wanted an exemption for areas like the Canary Islands or the Balearic Islands where there has been a very low incidence of the virus, but London refused.

In Spain, where the virus has claimed more than 28 400 lives, there has been a surge in cases in recent weeks.

According to Tuesday's count, an average of more than 1 800 new cases per day have been detected over the past seven days, two-thirds of them in the north-eastern regions of Catalonia and Aragon.

It's a figure which has more than tripled in two weeks, prompting Spain's autonomous regions to step up security measures.

The Madrid region moved to make mask-wearing obligatory at all times in public on Tuesday, even while having a drink at a bar terrace, where gatherings will now be limited to groups of 10.

Restricting numbers to a maximum of 10 guests has also been recommended for people entertaining at home. – Nampa/AFP