The reopening of Spain’s borders to European tourism from June 21 comes with an important caveat. The Spanish government is considering maintaining an obligatory quarantine period for citizens from the United Kingdom – who account for the highest number of yearly visitors to Spain – if the British government does not lift the same requirement for Spanish travelers. “We will be checking what the UK will be doing and we will be in dialogue with the UK to see whether or not we should be introducing reciprocity as they have different measures than the rest of the EU,” Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya told the BBC’s HARDTalk news show this week.
In mid-May, Spain implemented an obligatory two-week quarantine in a bid to avoid imported coronavirus cases at a time when the Spanish population was still confined to its province or territory. The government announced that this measure, which dissuades tourists from visiting the country, would be dropped once the borders reopen on June 21 to travelers coming from EU or Schengen-area countries. The government confirmed on Sunday that this would include citizens coming from the UK, given that the country still enjoys full rights as an EU state during its Brexit transition period, despite having officially left the bloc at the start of the year. If the UK keeps the quarantine requirement in place, Spain may respond in kind.
Aware of the importance of the UK for Spain’s tourism – before the pandemic, 18 million UK tourists arrived in Spain every year – González Laya did not say that the quarantine was going to be a definite requirement. “Hopefully by the time we open our borders, the UK would have moved forward also,” she told the BBC.
Sources from the UK said that for now the plan is to maintain the quarantine for all of those who enter the country from abroad, including British travelers and with certain exceptions. The British government has opened the door to changing this measure, “based on the most recent scientific evidence,” but not before June 29, according to the same sources. This would mean at least eight days of reciprocal quarantines for travelers from those countries.
Via its Facebook page, the British Embassy on Tuesday confirmed that a reciprocal quarantine may be put into place, but that “this decision has not yet been taken.” The embassy added that it would provide an update “once there is more information.”
The UK government is currently continuing “to advise British nationals against all but essential international travel.”
English version by Simon Hunter.