Spain may quarantine UK visitors, minister tells BBC

Reuters , Tuesday 16 Jun 2020

FILE PHOTO: Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya reacts during an interview with Reuters at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in Madrid, Spain May 28, 2020. REUTERS

Spain is considering imposing a quarantine on British travellers when it reopens its borders next week, the foreign minister said, in response to a similar policy at London's end.

Arancha Gonzalez Laya told the BBC she hoped Britain would lift its restriction, making a reciprocal Spanish one unnecessary.

"We will be in a dialogue with the UK to see whether or not we should be introducing reciprocity as they have different measures than the rest of the European Union," she said in an advance excerpt from current affairs programme HARDtalk.

Britain, with more than 41,000 documented coronavirus-linked deaths, and Spain, with more than 27,000, have been two of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic.

Both, along with other European countries, are now easing lockdown restrictions, including border closures.

Spanish officials gave no mention of any quarantine curbs on Sunday, when the government moved forward the date for allowing European visitors back into the country to June 21 from July 1.

In recent weeks, Spain has caused confusion in neighbouring countries and exasperation in the travel industry by repeatedly changing the date and conditions for lifting the ban on foreign visitors it imposed in mid-March.

"I still don't know what I will do with my staff and it's June 16," Jorge Marichal, CEO of Canary Islands hotel group Inversiones Marylanza, said at a business event.

"We cannot work this way."

Spain counts on tourism for about 12 percent of its economy and more than one in eight jobs, making it essential to try and salvage some of the summer holiday season.

Britain's Finance Minister Rishi Sunak said on Sunday the quarantine was among measures it would review, saying the government could make changes such as introducing travel corridors with specific countries.

Spain's foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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