Pedro Sanchez in UK quarantine: Spain Prime hits out at ‘error’.
The UK government decision to impose a 14-day quarantine on everyone arriving from Spain was “unjust”, the country’s prime minister has said.
Pedro Sánchez said tourists in most Spanish regions would be safer from coronavirus than in the UK, and he was hoping Britain would rethink its move.
He said talks were ongoing after the UK also advised against all but essential travel to the whole of Spain.
Labour said the government’s handling of the restrictions had been “chaotic”.
But the UK government said it has no plans to change its decision to reintroduce the quarantine measures – with Boris Johnson’s official spokesman warning that “no travel is risk-free during this pandemic”.
Asked about the risk to holidays to other destinations, junior government minister Simon Clarke said the possibility of the rules changing “has to be factored in”.
“By all means go on holiday but understand that there is a chance you may be asked to self-isolate upon your return,” he said.
On Monday, the Foreign Office also extended its travel advice for Spain, now telling people to avoid non-essential journeys to the Canary and Balearic Islands, as well as mainland Spain.
But some travel agents say they are struggling to understand the logic of the UK government’s advice, because the islands have lower coronavirus infection rates.
In an interview with the Telecinco TV network, Mr Sánchez said his government was “talking with British authorities to try to get them to reconsider” the decision.
The UK had made an “error” by considering the infection rate for the whole country, he said.
He added that “64.5% of the new cases registered are in two territories” and in most of Spain the prevalence of Covid-19 was “very much inferior to the numbers registered in the United Kingdom”.
The rate of infection in Spain is 35.1 cases per 100,000 people, while the UK is at 14.7, according to the latest figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
While the outbreak remains under control in many parts of Spain, certain areas – in particular Catalonia in the north-east and the neighbouring region of Aragón – have seen a huge spike in infections.
Data up to 19 July suggested there were lower rates of infection in the Balearic and Canary Islands than in mainland Spain.
“Why the Canaries – which are further away from Barcelona than Barcelona is the UK – are on the list as well as mainland Spain, I simply don’t understand,” said Labour MP Chris Bryant, who chairs the all-party parliamentary group for Spain.
“And there are many, many regions of Spain which have much lower infection rates than many areas in the UK. I think this has been terribly badly handled.”