Quarantine for British tourists returning from Spain

Prompted by a surge in infection rates, the British government has introduced a two-week quarantine for tourists returning from Spain. Tui UK, the country's biggest tour operator, reacted by cancelling all flights to the Spanish mainland. This is a major blow for Spain's tourism industry, as British holidaymakers account for 20 percent of foreign visitors, making them the largest group by nationality. Was the move inevitable?

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The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

A rash decision

Haste prevailed over common sense in the decision to put all travelers from Spain under quarantine, The Daily Telegraph criticises:

“Most Spanish regions have fewer infections than here and the spikes are mainly around Barcelona and Aragon. Does it make sense, therefore, to require holidaymakers to isolate when they return from, say, the Balearics or the Canary Islands, where there are hardly any Covid cases? After all, the aim of travel corridors was to obviate the need for a blanket approach . ... Given the number of Brits who have headed for Spain in good faith in recent days, was it not possible to differentiate between the areas where the infection is rising and those that are almost Covid-free?”

The Times (GB) /

Resolute action is necessary

The public outcry over the rapidly imposed measure is unfair, The Times argues:

“The government has sustained criticism in the coronavirus crisis for acting too late. This time it acted decisively on being presented with evidence that it was necessary. In overcoming a once-in-a-generation threat to public health, extraordinary measures are necessary. The government should be prepared to enact them, the opposition to support them, and the public to adhere to them. ... When a pandemic spreads at the rate of roughly a million new cases a week, then unprecedented policies are required to contend with the threat. Holiday-makers did not expect the quarantine policy to be implemented and deserve sympathy. ... But this is what may happen in a health emergency.”

La Vanguardia (ES) /

Spain needs a campaign

The Spanish government is trying to negotiate an exemption for Spanish islands where the infection rates are still low. The Catalonian daily La Vanguardia says this is not enough:

“The central government, the Catalan authorities and the other regional governments must immediately launch a campaign to make it clear to the international public that Spain has the local Covid-19 outbreaks under control, that all the necessary preventive measures are being taken and that apart from the general risk that exists worldwide and that people have to live with until there is a vaccine, the country is a safe holiday destination. Because so much is at stake for the economy and for employment, it must try to rescue anything of the tourist season that can still be rescued.”