Fresh Tsunami of Cancellations Washes Over Tourism-Dependent Spain amid Fears Borders Will Slam Shut Again.
The UK government this weekend delivered a hammer blow to Spain’s already battered tourism industry. On Saturday night — just two weeks after the government had dropped its two-week quarantine for travelers arriving or returning from a bevvy of European countries, including Spain — it backtracked once again: from midnight that night, it announced that all travelers arriving from Spain, where Covid cases are once again spiking, will face a 14-day quarantine.
On Tuesday morning, the UK changed policy once again. Travelers arriving from high-risk countries such as Spain will be tested for Covid eight days after they land. If they test negative, they will be able to come out of isolation two days later. If they test positive, they will have to remain in quarantine for the whole two weeks.
The quarantine rules are a nightmare for the approximately 1.8 million British holidaymakers either currently in Spain or about to go. Those already in the country now have to go through the rigmarole of informing their employers — assuming they still have one — that they will not be able to come back to work for between 10 to 14 additional days. They will also have to cancel any social engagements they had planned for the post-vacation period.
British tourists accounted for just over one in five of the 83 million visitors to Spain in 2019. Now, many of the tourists who were planning to come this summer will be staying at home or going elsewhere. Aside from reinstating the quarantine for arrivals from Spain, the UK government has also advised citizens to avoid all non-essential travel, not just to mainland Spain but also to its island archipelagos, which is likely to trigger a fresh tsunami of cancellations. The UK’s largest tour operator, TUI, has already axed all holidays to mainland Spain for the next two weeks.
That’s bad news, not just for Spain but for the whole of Europe. The sharp resurgence of Covid cases in Spain deals a heavy blow to any lingering hopes that the spread of the virus might be contained until at least Autumn, allowing tourism-dependent countries like Spain, Italy, France and Greece, to at least salvage something from the Summer tourist season. The UK has warned that it stands ready to apply similar “handbrake restrictions” to other countries in order to stop the spread of coronavirus.
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