Blow for holidaymakers
Spanish quarantine rules extended to islands
Barcelona has closed clubs and bars
UPDATE 27 JULY 6.30pm: The UK is now advising against all non-essential travel to the Balearic and Canary Islands after Spain recorded a rise in coronavirus cases.
Amid expectations that the islands may be exempt, Foreign Office guidance was changed to include both mainland Spain and popular destinations such as Ibiza and Tenerife.
A spokesperson said the decision was made in light of a separate requirement for travellers to self-isolate on their return to the UK from Spain.
Downing Street said: “No travel is risk free.”
Spain’s foreign minister has insisted the country is safe for tourists after the UK abruptly ordered people arriving from the country from midnight on Saturday to go into quarantine.
Infections have risen sharply in Spain recently as restrictions were eased. Some regions have now imposed measures including making face masks mandatory.
However, the Spanish authorities said outbreaks of new Covid-19 cases are isolated and under control.
“Spain is safe for Spaniards and for tourists,” the foreign minister Arancha González Laya said.
The UK government and the devolved administrations agreed jointly to reimpose the restrictions.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted that the decision was made after reviewing the latest data showed a second wave could be imminent after outbreaks in the northeast of the country.
A UK Department for Transport spokesman said: “We have taken this decision to limit any potential spread to the UK. We’ve always been clear that we would act immediately to remove a country where necessary.”
People currently on holiday in Spain should follow the local rules, return home as normal, and check the Foreign Office’s travel advice website for further information.
The UK’s biggest tour operator, Tui, has cancelled all mainland Spanish holidays until 9 August. British Airways is still operating flights, but said the move was “throwing thousands of Britons’ travel plans into chaos”.
Spain was initially left off a list of countries that forged “air bridges” with the UK.
The restriction on those returning to Scotland from Spain was lifted on 8 July, but last week Ms Sturgeon warned anyone planning a holiday overseas, particularly to Spain, that there was no guarantee they wouldn’t be hit with renewed restrictions.
The Department for Transport is urging employers to be “understanding of those returning from Spain who now will need to self-isolate”.
Spain has so far seen more than 28,000 coronavirus deaths. On Thursday, it saw the biggest biggest daily increase in infections since its lockdown ended.
Catalonia has ordered all nightclubs to close for two weeks and put a midnight curfew on bars in the greater Barcelona area.
France has warned its citizens not to travel to Catalonia while Norway has said it will start quarantining people arriving from Spain.
The Airport Operators Association said the new measures will “further damage what is already a fragile restart of the aviation sector which continues to face the biggest challenge in its history”.
Budget airline EasyJet said it was “disappointed” and would operate a full schedule in the coming days.
Willie Rennie: ‘shambolic’ (pic: Terry Murden)
Scottish Liberal Democrats leader Willie Rennie has written to the First Minister in the aftermath of Saturday evening’s decision demanding she publish the science that caused the Scottish Government to relax the quarantine on Thursday and re-impose it on Saturday given that information about a surge in cases in Spain was publicly available all week.
“The numbers were going up, yet they lifted the quarantine,” said Mr Rennie.
“This is now a shambolic situation and there is a big question as to how Scottish ministers have made such poor quality decisions.
“If it was not safe to lift the quarantine measures three weeks ago how had it been judged safe to do so earlier this week?
“Holidaymakers who left for Spain in the last few days on the expectation they would return without quarantine will be in a very difficult position with their employers.”