Spain firmly rejected Angela Merkel’s attempts to ensure EU-wide quarantine policies for British tourists, as British holidaymakers scrambled to book flights to new “green list” destinations, including the Spanish island of Mallorca and Ibiza.
The German Chancellor is worried that the delta variant that dominates the United Kingdom may be spread to Europe by British tourists, especially now that the Boris Johnson government has begun to allow British citizens to travel again.
Merkel said on Thursday: “In our country, if you are from the UK, you must be quarantined-this is not the case in every European country, this is what I want to see.”
But Spain insists that each EU country makes its own sovereign decision on who to accept, which is their legal right, and it is eager to reopen the tourism industry: the country’s tourist revenue fell by nearly 80% last year to less than 200 Billion euros. .
Spanish Minister of Tourism and Industry Reyes Maroto welcomes Add Balearic Islands From next Wednesday to the green list of the United Kingdom, it is allowed to travel without isolation when returning.
However, there are signs that Madrid may strengthen its current policy to allow British tourists to enter the county without any medical documentation, as domestic concerns about the Delta variant increase.
The head of government of the Balearic Islands Francina Amongor called on the Spanish health authorities to impose “strict and safe entry controls” on British tourists.
Regional government officials said that the same rules should be applied to British tourists and tourists from other high-infected areas-such as vaccination certificates or diagnostic tests. “We have been fighting for the arrival of the British for a long time, but they should come under the safest conditions,” one person said, adding that in-depth discussions with the national government will continue over the weekend.
French President Emmanuel Macron also supports the European Union’s “coordinated decision on opening its borders to third countries”, but there is no sign of a united front in Europe. The EU leaders’ summit on Thursday night only emphasized the need to continue vaccination work and “maintain vigilance and coordination with developments, especially the emergence and spread of mutations.”
European Commission President Ursula von der Lein said on Friday that the EU is concerned about “rapidly developing” variants and needs to maintain “very coordinated” measures to prevent its spread.
British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that countries such as Germany are “more worried” about letting tourists in because their vaccination rates are lower than those of countries such as Malta.
From next Wednesday, Sharps has added 16 countries or regions to the green list, including Malta, Madeira, Antigua and Barbados, but he declined to say whether he plans to spend a holiday abroad this year.
“No matter who booked to go anywhere this summer, travel insurance ensures that your flight can be changed and that the accommodation can be changed-all these things will be very, very important this year,” he told Sky News.
The tourism industry generally welcomes these changes, but urges ministers to go further. Among the 16 destinations added to the green list, only Malta can guarantee to remain on the green list until the next review on July 15.
Other destinations are included on the green “watch list”, which means they can be removed from the list at any time within the next three weeks.
Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary described the travel announcement as a “step in the right direction,” but said the new green watch list may confuse passengers.
Since the announcement, the prices of flights to some green-listed destinations have soared. According to Google’s data, the cheapest one-way flight from London to Ibiza on July 1st was £220, up from £60 a day earlier.
Airlines have added additional capacity to open destinations. EasyJet said on Friday that it has added 50,000 additional seats to the new green list destinations to meet demand.
However, transatlantic business travel is still effectively blocked, and arrivals from the United States and the United Kingdom are restricted.
“The United Kingdom has fallen behind the reopening of the European Union, and continued over-cautious practices will further affect the economic recovery,” said Virgin Atlantic CEO Xie Weisi.
Sharps confirmed that he hopes to open isolation-free travel to Amber Listed countries for those who have received two jabs later in the summer; government officials say this is unlikely to happen before August. Ministers are considering whether to exempt children.
Airline shares fell slightly on Friday morning. British Airways owners IAG and EasyJet both fell about 1%.