Now Johnson warns of Europe ‘second wave’ amid Spain row

Boris Johnson defends adding Spain to the quarantine list

BBC Scotland is reporting that PM Boris Johnson has warned there are signs of a “second wave” of coronavirus in Europe, as he defended a 14-day quarantine on travellers from Spain.

And Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said there was no way she herself would be booking a holiday in Spain because of the health risk situation there. No foreign holiday, no matter where. She would be staying in Scotland and doing the country a favour, which she hoped would be an example for other Scots to follow.

Johnston said the UK government had to be “swift” – and it would continue to take further action “where it is necessary”.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon echoed Mr Johnson’s concerns, saying “we are currently seeing a worrying resurgence of Covid” in European countries.

She warned potential travellers not to assume quarantine measures would remain the same at the time of booking a holiday as when they returned, adding: “I wouldn’t be booking a foreign holiday right now.”

It comes after the Spanish prime minister called the UK’s decision to change the rules for Spain “unjust”.

Pedro Sánchez said tourists in most regions in Spain would be safer from coronavirus than in the UK.

Speaking during a visit to Nottinghamshire, PM Johnson said: “What we have to do is take swift and decisive action where we think that the risks are starting to bubble up again.

Let’s be absolutely clear about what’s happening in Europe, amongst some of our European friends, I’m afraid you are starting to see in some places the signs of a second wave of the pandemic.”

It came as the UK reported a further 119 coronavirus deaths – taking the official number of deaths so far to 45,878 – but the daily figure is typically higher on Tuesdays due to delays in reporting deaths at the weekend.

An additional 581 positive cases have also been reported across the UK, a small dip on recent days.

Asked about reports that the 14-day period could be reduced – as reported by the Daily Telegraph – Mr Johnson said “we are always looking at ways in which we can mitigate the impact of the quarantine”.

“At the moment you have got to stick with the guidance that we are giving, we have given the guidance now about Spain and about some other places around the world.”

When asked whether the 14-day quarantine period could be cut, transport minister Baroness Vere said the government was “looking at a range of options” including “testing people on certain days” after they arrive.

Ministers are also “certainly looking” at the idea of restrictions on travel to regions rather than whole countries, she said during an urgent question in the House of Lords.

Mr Johnson said if the UK did see signs of a second wave in other countries, it was the government’s duty to stop travellers returning and spreading the disease.

“It’s vital that when people are coming back from abroad, if they are coming back from a place where I’m afraid there is another outbreak, they must go into quarantine,” he said.

“That’s why we have taken the action that we have and we will continue, throughout the summer, to take such action where it is necessary.”

The Department of Health said there had been a handful of suspected cases this month where a person had tested positive for the coronavirus after returning to the UK from Spain.

While the outbreak remains under control in many parts of Spain, certain areas – in particular Catalonia in the north-east, which includes the city Barcelona, and the neighbouring region of Aragón – have seen a huge spike in infections.

According to data from the Spanish government, as of Monday, the infection rates in the Balearic and Canary Islands were 9.22 and 7.06 per 100,000 respectively.

On Tuesday, the UK government added Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia, Slovenia and St Vincent and the Grenadines to the list of countries which are exempt from the quarantine rule.

Travellers returning to the UK from anywhere not on the list – including Spain – must now self-isolate for 14 days at a registered address.

People who do not self-isolate can be fined up to £1,000 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and those returning to Scotland could be fined £480, with fines up to £5,000 for persistent offenders.

Government sources told the BBC that there are no plans to introduce testing at airports, and the priority is to get walk-in centres up and running.

Some travel agents say they are struggling to understand the logic of the UK government’s advice.

And MP Chris Bryant, who chairs the all-party parliamentary group for Spain, said: “Why the Canaries – which are further away from Barcelona than Barcelona is to the UK – are on the list as well as mainland Spain, I simply don’t understand.

Labour said the government’s handling of the restrictions had been “chaotic”, and urged it to step in to protect jobs in the travel industry.

Travellers returning to the UK from anywhere not on the list – including Spain – must now self-isolate for 14 days at a registered address.

People who do not self-isolate can be fined up to £1,000 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and those returning to Scotland could be fined £480, with fines up to £5,000 for persistent offenders.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has called for the Scottish Government to compensate people facing a loss of income as a result of having to quarantine when they return from Spain.

Rennie said: “The decision to reimpose the quarantine on travellers just three days after it had been lifted was shambolic and avoidable as there was evidence of a surge in cases in Spain.

“Now we need some practical solutions to support those travelers who jumped at the opportunity to go to Spain only to find themselves facing a fortnight off work in isolation. For many this could mean a significant loss of income. 

“The people who need help are those who left for holiday to Spain last week because they were told by the Scottish Government there would be no requirement to quarantine on their return.

“The Scottish Government should put in place a hotline to help workers directly affected and whose employers cannot afford to have them off work.  The reduction in earnings imposed by going onto statutory sick pay can be huge at a time when household incomes are strained. The Scottish Government need to take responsibility for their error and ensure that people are supported.” 

Government sources told the BBC that there are no plans to introduce testing at airports, and the priority is to get walk-in centres up and running.


One thought on “Now Johnson warns of Europe ‘second wave’ amid Spain row

  1. Looking at some of the local pubs it’s as if the virus had never happened. Close contact, lack of social distancing, loud voices spraying aerosol droplets, it’s all there.

    Add to that the absolute determination of many to holiday in potential Coronavirus hotspots that the booze, beach and clubbing holidays in places like Spain provide, and it is not difficult to see how COVID could be back stalking our neighbourhood. Dumbarton and environs did after all have one of the highest death tolls and of course could do so again.

    Ah well, what can one say.

    Like

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