The majority of British expats want Spain’s government to impose extra restrictions on tourists from high-risk coronavirus countries to avoid a second wave of the pandemic and another lockdown.
NEWS that 20 per cent of current cases are imported shocked British expats across Spain. Of the 259 cases reported over the last week, approximately 54 of them have been imported, confirmed Fernando Simón, Director of the Centre for Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies today. Most were detected in tourists arriving to the Canary Islands over the past week, as well as several travellers coming through Madrid’s Barajas Airport who have needed hospital treatment.
Spain’s citizens including British expats now fear that another wave of Covid-19 infections is on its way and could result in another lockdown – especially if Spain opens its borders to travellers from high-risk coronavirus countries. Various regional premiers have already demanded that the government do more to prevent imported cases. Madrid’s Health Councillor Enrique Ruiz Escudero, for example, has emphasised the “urgent need” for more control measures and restrictions imposed on travellers arriving into Spain from high-risk countries. These include the restriction of flights from countries with a high Covid-19 rate, as well as passengers having to produce a negative PCR test that’s taken 48-hours before travelling to Spain. Andalucia’s government also wants similar measures to be put in place.
Many expats recall the sacrifices they had to make during the 98-day lockdown in Spain (which ended at the weekend) all too well, and don’t want another one reimposed because of ‘imported’ cases. “My wife stayed indoors for three months, and I shopped just once a week and restricted to our village only – and for what?” points out British expat Norman Shaw. “Yes the country did extremely well, but only because we residents did as we were told. And now… just let anyone in… no matter what the risk to Spanish residents. Of course they should [impose restrictions], otherwise, what was the point of our lockdown?”
The majority of expats living in Spain from all over Europe share Shaw’s view. According to a Euro Weekly News poll, practically 100 per cent agreed that “tighter restrictions must be imposed on travellers coming into Spain particularly those from high-risk coronavirus countries” – and that includes the British tourists. After witnessing the UK’s crowded beach scenes again, British expat Colin Bates stated: “Seriously, after seeing what happened today in the UK, I have to say yes to tighter restrictions.”
Some like Mark Havard suggest that Spain should simply carry out “additional checks and tests at the airport, and if positive to send them back.” Gordon Priestley agrees, but also points out that “Spain needs the tourists.” So opening Europe’s borders to a short list of countries with a similar infection rate is, in principle, a good idea. That is, of course, if the 27 EU members can agree on the “definitive country list,” as reported.
Of course, if restrictions aren’t tightened and numbers go up again this summer, we could go back to lockdown. We’re already seeing that happen in parts of Spain, Germany and Portugal, which have recently had to revert to lockdown conditions. Some expats like Josie Filmer believe it’s already too late as “lockdown is on its way again.” Let’s hope not.