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Coronavirus: Spain wants UK to reconsider 'unjust' quarantine rule

Pedro Sanchez has condemned the British government's decision to impose a quarantine on all travellers returning from Spain.

The Spanish prime minister said in an interview with local broadcaster Telecinco that the ruling is "inappropriate" and doesn't fit with Spain's current epidemiological situation.

He argued that places heavily dependent on British tourists, like the Balearics and the Canary Islands, as well as Valencia and Andalusia, were safe destinations, as most of the new COVID-19 cases were recorded in the north-eastern regions of Catalonia and Aragon.

He added that his government is in talks with the British authorities "to try to convince them" to reconsider the measure.

The UK government on July 25 advised against all but essential travel to mainland Spain and told travellers returning from the country from July 26 to self-isolate for 14 days.

British authorities removed Spain from its list of safe countries, or so-called travel corridors, on midnight on Saturday, as Spain reported a spike in COVID-19 cases and as Catalonia shut nightlife venues in an attempt to prevent a second wave of the virus.

“We can’t make apologies...we must be able to take swift, decisive action,” British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told Sky News on Sunday.

In response, Europe's largest holiday company TUI said on Sunday it would cancel all flights to mainland Spain until August 9.

On Monday, the British government updated its advice against all non-essential travel to Spain to include the Balearic and Canary Islands. This came despite far lower infection rates in these areas than in other parts of Spain and appeals from the regional authorities for exemptions from the new UK rule.

"I think it's very important to stop the spread but it's really annoying that there has absolutely been no warning," said Helena, who was flying back to the UK from Madrid on Sunday in comments to the Associated Press.

"It's an absolute nightmare for everyone involved for the holidaymakers who are planning on coming out, the people who are here," said Georgie Frost, a British personal finance journalist who is currently in Spain's southeastern Murcia region visiting her partner.

She told Euronews she is "fortunate" that she is not forking out on accommodation and she has her work equipment with her as she thought the situation could arise.

She is due to come back to the UK on August 11 but does not know whether she will extend her stay if the quarantine rule stays in place.

"I would find it very difficult as a person working in personal finance to tell anyone to book a holiday abroad.

"The only condition I would say to think about [booking a holiday] is in a situation like mine and if you have family here who you can stay with," she said.

UK travellers were caught off guard by the 14-day quarantine ruleJoan Mateu/Copyright 2020
 The Associated Press.

The tourism sector, which makes up for 12% of Spain's GDP, is already on its knees and is bound to be badly hit by the measure.

Some people on social media suggested they could circumvent the newly-reimposed quarantine rule by flying in from the British territory of Gibraltar, which is still on the government's safe places to fly to and from.
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