Monday, August 10, 2020

Spain added to UK’s quarantine list as coronavirus cases surge in Catalonia

Spain added to UK's quarantine list as coronavirus cases surge in Catalonia

Spain has been added to Britain’s quarantine list after a surge of coronavirus cases were recorded in the European country.

Travellers returning to any of the UK nations from Spain, as well as the Canary and Balearic Islands, after midnight tonight will have to self-isolate for two weeks.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf also announced on Saturday that Scotland will remove Spain from its quarantine list.

A spokesperson said: “The Joint Biosecurity Centre together with Public Health England have updated their coronavirus assessments of Spain based on the latest data. As a result, Spain has been removed from the lists of countries from which passengers arriving in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are exempted from the need to self-isolate.

“Protecting public health is our absolute priority and 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. Both our list of quarantine exemptions and the FCO travel advice are being updated to reflect these latest risk assessments.”

Labour’s shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds called on the Government to provide details on how families stuck in Spain will receive support.

He said: “The news will be deeply concerning for families who are in caught Spain or are planning travel – the Government needs to come forward now with full details of how people affected will be supported.”

Chloe Harris, 23 from Kent, booked a last-minute trip to Lanzarote and arrived on the Spanish island on Saturday morning.

She told the PA news agency: “At the moment we are just waiting to hear whether the quarantine will affect the Spanish islands or if it is just going to be the mainland.

“When I heard the news I was quite shocked because I thought they would have given us some warning. Even just some warning that this was something they were going to consider.

“We only booked the trip on Wednesday and we are only here for a few days. We had done our research and we knew that the island has only had a small number of Covid cases.

“I think a lot of people are going to rush to the airport, but because we are only here for four days, and we only arrived this morning, it doesn’t seem worth it. We are just going to wait and hear if the island is included in the quarantine.

“I would probably be fine to continue working from home and quarantine from home, although I would have to stop going into the office. However, my friend who I travelled with is due to start a new job on August 3 and so that’s going to be difficult to explain to her employer.”

People enjoy the sunny weather at Barceloneta beach, after Catalonia’s regional authorities and the city council announced restrictions to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (REUTERS)

The current list of “safe” countries is currently said to be reviewed every three weeks.

According to reports in the Telegraph, ministers intend to replace the review with one in which countries are added or excluded at short notice depending on spikes or drops in cases.

It comes after Catalonia became the latest region to crack down on nightlife in a bit to halt new infection clusters.

The wealthy north-east region – home to Barcelona – ordered all nightclubs to close for 15 days and put a midnight curfew on bars in the greater Barcelona area and other towns around Lleida that have become contagion hot zones.

Spain has reported more than 900 new daily infections for the last two days as authorities warn that the country that lost 28,000 lives before getting its outbreak under control could be facing the start of a second major outbreak.

The expected announcement about the removal of a so-called “air bridge” with Spain comes only a day after a further five countries were added to the quarantine-free list for people travelling to England.

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Anyone coming from Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia, Slovenia and St Vincent and the Grenadines will not be required to isolate for two weeks on arrival, the Government confirmed on Friday.

Popular holiday destinations including Portugal, Thailand and the United States remain notable absentees.

The Government said people should continue to check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s travel advice and their insurance policies before embarking on any overseas travel.

Ministers had previously warned that travel corridors could be closed if coronavirus rates escalated in other nations.

Travellers, even those from exempt destinations, are still required to complete a passenger locator form when they arrive in the UK.

Additional reporting by the Press Association.

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