Spain Orders Two-Week Quarantine for Incoming Travelers

MADRID (Reuters) -
A volunteer firefighter disinfects a Madrid’s Emergency Service (SUMMA) ambulance after transferring a patient suffering from coronavirus  in Madrid, Spain. (Reuters/Sergio Perez)

Spain ordered a two-week quarantine for all travelers arriving from abroad from this Friday in a bid to curb the coronavirus as the country emerges from a national lockdown, a move that will further harm a tourist industry already reeling from the epidemic.

Incoming travelers will have to remain locked in and will only be allowed to go out for grocery shopping, to visit health centers, or in case of “situation of need,” an official order published on Tuesday said.

The quarantine will be enforced for all travelers coming to Spain between May 15 and at least May 24, when the state of emergency is due to end.

The order can be extended jointly with possible state of emergency extensions. Spain, which is just emerging from one of Europe’s strictest coronavirus lockdowns, has so far extended its restrictions four times since mid-March.

An extension of the order would severely hurt Spain’s tourism industry, which represents about 12% of gross domestic product. About 80 million tourists visit every year.

A quarantine maintained into the summer will have dire consequences on Spanish tourism. Shares of companies related to the Spanish tourism industry plummeted on Tuesday morning.

Shares of International Consolidated Airlines, which owns Iberia airline, were down 2.6% in morning trading, while shares of Melia Hotels, whose largest market is Spain, were down 4.7%. Airlines booking tech company Amadeus was falling 2.6%.

The measures applies to all travelers, including Spanish citizens returning to the country. Only truck drivers, airplane and ship crews, cross-border workers and health staff who are entering Spain to work are exempt from the quarantine.

The government had imposed restrictions on traveling from outside the open-border Shengen Area, which includes most of the European Union countries and other European states such as Norway.

Spain is one of the worst-hit countries by the pandemic with more than 26,000 fatalities recorded and more than 220,000 diagnosed cases. The country has started phasing out restrictions in the past 10 days.