June 16, 2020 / 8:01 AM / 25 days ago

Spain may quarantine British tourists, minister tells BBC

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain is considering imposing a quarantine on British travellers when it reopens its borders next week, in response to a similar policy at London’s end, its foreign minister said.

FILE PHOTO: Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya reacts during an interview with Reuters at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in Madrid, Spain May 28, 2020. REUTERS/Susana Vera/

Arancha Gonzalez Laya told the BBC she hoped Britain would lift its restriction, making a reciprocal Spanish one unnecessary.

“We will be in a dialogue with the UK to see whether or not we should be introducing reciprocity as they have different measures than the rest of the European Union,” she said in an advance excerpt from current affairs programme HARDtalk.

Spanish Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto said the two countries would take a decision in their mutual interest in coming days.

Britons account for more than a fifth of the roughly 80 million tourists Spain receives every year.

Britain’s Finance Minister Rishi Sunak said on Sunday the government could review the two-week quarantine regulation and was open to exceptions such as travel corridors.

Britain, with more than 41,000 documented coronavirus-linked deaths, and Spain, with more than 27,000, have been among the countries hardest hit by the pandemic. Both are easing lockdown restrictions, including border closures.

Hundreds of German tourists landed on Mallorca on Monday as part of a pilot programme before Spain officially re-opens to all fellow Europeans on June 21.

For now, arrivals are only subject to temperature checks, but Maroto raised the possibility of coronavirus tests if that proves inadequate.

In recent weeks, Spain has caused confusion abroad and exasperation in the travel industry by repeatedly changing the date and conditions for lifting the ban on foreign visitors it imposed in mid-March.

“I still don’t know what I will do with my staff and it’s June 16. We cannot work this way,” Jorge Marichal, CEO of Canary Islands hotel group Inversiones Marylanza, told a business event.

Tourism accounts for about 12 percent of economic activity and more than one in eight jobs in Spain.

Reporting by Inti Landauro and Ingrid Melander; Additional reporting by Nathan Allen and Emma Pinedo; Editing by Andrei Khalip and John Stonestreet

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