UK removes Spain from travel corridor as virus surges

Britain has abruptly imposed a two-week quarantine on all travellers arriving from Spain after a surge of coronavirus cases, a dramatic and sudden reversal to the opening of the European continent to tourism after months of lockdown, SIA reports quoting foreign media.

The quarantine requirement took effect from 2300 GMT on Saturday, making it almost impossible for travellers to avoid it by rushing home. The British foreign ministry also advised against all but essential travel to mainland Spain, a move likely to prompt tour operators to cancel package holidays and trigger claims against insurers.

Spain's Canary and Balearic Islands are not covered by the advice to avoid travel to the mainland, but holidaymakers returning to Britain from the islands will still be subject to quarantine on return. Britain's government urged employers to be "understanding" towards staff who are unable to return to work for two weeks after coming back from holiday. Transport minister Grant Shapps himself will be subject to quarantine, after a spokesman confirmed that he is currently on holiday in Spain.

The British move followed steps this week by other European countries. On Friday Norway said it would re-impose a 10-day quarantine requirement for people arriving from Spain, while France advised people not to travel to Spain's northeastern region of Catalonia.

But the total collapse of tourism from Britain would have far more impact. Britons made up more than 20 percent of foreign visitors to Spain last year, the largest group by nationality. Tourism normally accounts for 12 percent of Spain's economy. Spain had been on a list of countries that the British government had said were safe for travellers to visit – meaning tourists returning home would not have to go into quarantine. The announcement of such lists just weeks ago had allowed Europe's tourism sector to begin to revive after the near total shut-down prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

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