Spain and the UK in COVID-19 quarantine row
Rahul Pathak in Madrid

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has gone on the offensive following Britain's decision to reimpose a 14-day quarantine for tourists arriving from the mediterranean hotspot.

He said Britons are safer on the beaches of the Balearic and Canary Islands than back home in the UK.

"Take the case of the Canary Islands, the Balearic Islands, the regions of Valencia and Andalusia, which, I insist, collectively have fewer cases of the virus right now than the UK has," Sanchez said in a TV interview on Monday.

"Therefore, in epidemiological terms, it would be safer to be in those destinations than in the UK," he added.


Spain's frustration

Sanchez, like many others in Spain, thinks the British decision is unfair, as the recent outbreaks have centered around the Catalonia, Aragon, and Navarra, regions in mainland Spain – far away from the popular tourist destinations in the Balearic and Canary islands.

Despite this, Britain continues to insist that people arriving from anywhere in Spain, even areas with no coronavirus cases, should self-isolate for two weeks upon their return.

Speaking on Tuesday, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "At the moment, we've got to stick with the guidance that we're giving. We've given guidance now about Spain and about some other places around the world."

He added: "I'm afraid if we do see signs of a second wave in other countries, it is really our job, our duty, to act swiftly and decisively, to stop reinfecting ... to stop travelers coming back from those places, seeding the disease here in the UK."


A tough few months ahead

The relatively low rates of infection on the Balearic and Canary islands had raised hopes of a travel corridor with the UK.

However, the British Foreign Office has updated its advice against non-essential travel to Spain to include the islands, hugely frustrating those working in the tourism industry.

CGTN Europe spoke to the tourism director for the local government in Ibiza, Juan Miguel Costa, who said there were going to be some tough months ahead.

"Some hotels and businesses opened just a week or 10 days ago. They were hoping for the month of August to be full of British tourists and now they will have to close again," Costa said.

"That is a really heavy burden, not only for the business itself but also for the workers and everyone here. Bear in mind, we didn't have any income throughout the summer. It will be a really hard winter," he added.

The Spanish government is still hopeful there can be some negotiation on the quarantine restrictions imposed by the UK government that affect the whole of Spain.


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