Spain ordered a two-week quarantine on all travellers arriving from abroad from this Friday in a bid to prevent visitors from sparking a second wave of the coronavirus, a move that will further harm a tourism sector already reeling from the epidemic.
One of the world’s worst-hit countries, Spain has largely brought the outbreak under control within its borders and has begun to relax its tight lockdown regime.
The main risk now lies in importing new cases from abroad, Health Emergency Coordinator Fernando Simon told a news briefing.
“We have to do prevention efforts until other countries reach the level of control that we have achieved,” he said.
An official order published on Tuesday said the quarantine would apply to all travellers arriving between May 15-May 24, when the country’s state of emergency is due to end.
Vsitors must remain indoors, only allowed out for groceries, to visit health centres or in a “situation of need.”
Truck drivers, airplane and ship crews, cross-border workers and health staff working in Spain will be exempt.
The government had previously imposed restrictions on travelling from outside the open-border Schengen Area, which includes most of the European Union countries and other European states such as Norway.
The order can be prolonged with possible state of emergency extensions. Spain has so far extended its restrictions four times since mid-March.
Spain has embarked on a four-step plan to wind down its lockdown and aims to return to normality by the end of June. About half the population moved into Phase 1 on Monday, with cafes and bars allowed to reopen their outdoor seating with capacity restrictions.
However, the move did not go smoothly everywhere, as crowds formed outside some bars, in an infringement of social-distancing rules, forcing police to shut down the establishments in some cases.
On Tuesday, the Guardia Civil police force said it had reported to the national government Sunday’s Iberia flight to the Canary Islands from Madrid for breaking coronavirus safety rules on social distancing. After complaints from some passengers, police in the Canaries discovered the aircraft was more than 70% full.