The Spanish government is planning on lifting the two-week coronavirus quarantine requirement for overseas arrivals on July 1. The decision was taken at an inter-ministerial meeting held today via video conference call.
Since May 15, the Spanish Health Ministry has required travelers arriving from outside the country to remain isolated for 14 days. The government had said that the measures would be scrapped once the state of alarm was lifted. But this weekend, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez suggested that the state of alarm – which has been in place since March 14, and has given the government extra powers to combat the spread of the virus – could be ended in some areas before others, a process that may begin as early as this week.
Before May 15, the isolation period had only been applied to repatriated Spaniards and residents of Spain traveling from Italy. The rules currently in place apply to all international travelers, with a few exceptions for specific types of workers.
The travel sector was particularly concerned about the quarantine period, which has also been adopted by other European countries such as the United Kingdom, for the effect that it would have on the arrival of overseas tourists this summer.
The Spanish government, however, has recently shifted its position on the summer season, having initially suggested it would have to be written off due to the coronavirus crisis. Given the positive progress of the epidemic in Spain, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced on Saturday during a televised address that the sector should start to get ready for the summer season, and that overseas tourists would be welcomed into the country under safe conditions from July. He also encouraged Spaniards to start planning domestic vacations from as early as June.
Writing via Twitter today, Foreign Minister Arancha González said that “the most difficult part [of the coronavirus crisis] is behind us. From July we will gradually reactivate international tourism, we will lift the quarantine and ensure safe health conditions.”
The announcement should give the tourism sector a further boost. Spain usually receives more than 80 million visitors a year from overseas, and the sector accounts for more than 12% of gross domestic product (GDP).
Deal on free movement
On Sunday, Finance Minister and government spokesperson María Jesús Montero said during a press conference that Spain would be seeking international consensus on the free movement of travelers “at least” with countries that send the highest number of tourists to the country, such as Portugal, France, the United Kingdom and Germany.
The minister added that the government would seek an agreement with countries from the Schengen area, rather than bilateral deals with a variety of countries.
English version by Simon Hunter.