The Balearic and Canary islands will remain on the UK’s quarantine list despite a Spanish minister insisting they were safe and pleading for their removal today.
Arrivals from islands including Ibiza, Majorca, Tenerife and Gran Canaria have been under orders to self-isolate for 14 days since last week, when they joined the Spanish mainland on the UK’s red travel list.
Madrid’s tourism minister, Reyes Maroto, said this morning that her Government has sent Boris Johnson’s administration fresh data that showed it was safe to restart quarantine-free travel to both sets of islands.
Such a move would provide a boost for the thousands of Brits with holidays in the islands already booked but afraid that quarantine will affect their jobs on their return.
But No10 dashed hopes of a swift change this afternoon, with the PM’s spokesman saying there was no change to the quarantine advice.
He told reporters that ‘were some challenges in trying to look at this on a regionalised basis’ and made a decision ‘based on looking closely at the data’.
That suggests that the island chains are likely to remain under quarantine until it is lifted on the Spanish mainland.
Spain is leading Western Europe’s major countries with an average of 60 coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
While the country’s south and the Canary and Balearic islands remain in good shape, the regions of Navarra, Aragon, and Catalonia have registered more than 120 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over a 14-day period.
This makes Spain’s northeast the biggest European hot spot along with parts of Romania, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.
Spanish Tourism and Industry Minister, Reyes Maroto, pictured in Madrid, Spain, 30 May 2020
Tourists in Benidorm last week, who are now subject to quarantine restrictions when they return to the UK
British Citizens arrive at the Malaga-Costa del Sol Airport after the UK imposed a quarantine on all travellers from Spain
Travellers could lose their holidays AND cash as airlines refuse to cancel flights to Spain
Airlines are refusing to cancel flights to Spain – despite the Government advising against all but essential travel.
The move means hundreds of thousands of British families are in limbo and at risk of losing thousands of pounds.
It also puts the airline industry at odds with the Government because it is ignoring a public safety edict.
The Government issued the travel warning after the emergence of a second wave of coronavirus in parts of Spain.
Customers would normally expect travel firms to cancel the flights and offer refunds.
But all the major carriers, which have suffered massive losses after the collapse of air travel, continue to offer the flights.
This means families will potentially lose their holidays and their money.
In an interview with La Sexta television, Ms Maroto said the islands have a ‘low incidence rate’ and that the UK should review its conditions for travel.
‘It is a decision of the British authorities, but we have given them all the arguments so that they can trust that their tourists are safe in Spanish destinations,’ she said.
‘If it is not the decision we expect, we will continue working with them.
‘For us, the best news is to have the destination open with the United Kingdom, which is our main issuing market.
‘We have the best protocols and are highly valued by the tourists themselves, who have transferred to their government that they feel safe in Spain. ‘
Last week, moments after the FCO hardened its stance on travel to Spain – forcing Britons returning to self-quarantine for two weeks.
It prompted prime minister Pedro Sanchez to blast the restrictions as ‘unjust’, claiming tourists would be safer in his country than the UK.
Tourists braced to enter quarantine spoke of their worries that the fortnight self-isolation could cost them paid work. It also struck fear in Spain, who felt the move could cut-off the country’s summer-holiday season.
An exclusive poll conducted by MailOnline revealed that a quarter of Britons were planning to alter their holiday plans after the shock decision to reimpose quarantine restrictions on Spain.
Some 25 per cent said they were considering changes and more than a third (34 per cent) said they were now less likely to book a foreign holiday at all amid fears that other popular destinations could follow in having punitive restrictions put in place.
Holidaymakers were given just five hours notice on Saturday night that those returning from Spain would have to self-isolate for 14 days following a spike in cases.
On June 22, the day after Spain ended a national state of emergency and restored free movement around the country, the health ministry registered 125 new cases in 24 hours. Six weeks later, the daily count has jumped, hitting 1,525 on Friday.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has claimed that tourists are safer in his country than the UK. These are the worst coronavirus hotspots in each country and the number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 people
The Spanish government and Britain’s travel industry trade body, the Association of British Travel Agents, argue it is not necessary for the Canaries and Balearics to be included in the quarantine, pointing out that infection rates on these islands are low
How do the worst infected areas in Spain compare to the UK?
According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) over the last two weeks Spain has 35.1 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
This compares to 14.7 for the UK and 14.6 for nearby France.
The three worst affected areas in the UK currently are Blackburn with Darwen, Leicester and Oldham.
Blackburn with Darwen which has a rate of 75.2 per 100,000 people which is currently worst in the UK.
Leicester, which currently has a government imposed local lockdown, has 56 per 100,000 and Oldham has 50.5 per 100,000.
Spain also has specific areas that are seeing spikes in coronavirus cases, with the region of Catalonia particularly badly affected and well as Aragon and Navarre.
The current rate for Aragon is 160.1 cases per 100,000, which is significantly higher than any region in the UK.
Navarre has 79.2 cases per 100,000 and Catalonia has 63.1 cases per 100,000.
The data is from the data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control).
Sanchez criticised the government’s sudden decision to force Britons returning from Spain to stay at home for two weeks and called on the government to reconsider its decision.
Tourists braced to enter quarantine are worried the fortnight self-isolating could cost them paid work and there are fears the newly-imposed rules could kill off the summer holiday season.
Speaking moments after the Foreign Office hardened its stance and advised against non-essential travel to the whole of Spain, including the Balearic Islands and Canary Islands, Mr Sanchez told Spanish TV station Telecinco on Monday night: ‘I think the UK’s decision is an incorrect one.
‘Spain is made up of a number of regions that have a cumulative rate of contagion that is lower than the European average as well as the UK average.
‘The Spanish tourist industry has acted very responsibly over the past few months and has transferred a message of security with regards to the health emergency we are experiencing.
‘It’s true that on a global level the coronavirus pandemic continues to show a very worrying development and at European level as well, but in Spain the spread of the virus is not occurring in a uniform way.
‘Sixty-two per cent of the new cases are occurring in two regions but in the majority of the country, the cumulative incidence of the virus is lower than the European average and the UK average.’
Under proposals being fine-tuned by Matt Hancock, returning travellers who test negative eight days after they land will be given the green light to break quarantine early two days later.
The additional two days is a buffer in case any symptoms arise, according to the Daily Telegraph which first revealed the planned reduction.
A source told MailOnline that trimming the quarantine period from 14 days to 10 is a ‘live discussion’.
Mr Sanchez added: ‘We are talking to the British authorities to try to get them to reconsider a decision which we think is mistaken if we take into account the epidemiological situation in Spain as a whole and specifically some of our tourist areas such as the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands as well as the Valencian Community or Andalucia.
‘In epidemiological terms, it would be safer to be in these areas than in the UK.
‘We are going to carry on talking because we are friends and we have many commercial and economic links as well as geopolitical links.
‘Rather than reproaches what we have to do is try and find a point of equilibrium that above all involves the UK making its decision based on the cumulative evolution of the virus in these regions which are tourist areas.’
It comes after the government extended travel restrictions to the Spanish islands and warned that other holiday destinations could follow.
The Foreign Office is now warning against ‘all but essential’ travel to the Balearics and Canaries, having already done so for the mainland.
Travel firm Jet2 responded to yesterday’s diktat by cancelling flights to all Spanish destinations and told passengers not to go to the airport.
Downing Street warned: ‘Unfortunately no travel is risk-free during this pandemic.’ Sources said there were ‘no immediate plans’ to change travel and quarantine advice to other countries.
But Croatia and Belgium are thought to be of concern, and ministers are also monitoring France and Germany.