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Spain orders two-week quarantine for incoming travellers from Friday, but no impact at Gib border

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By Chronicle Staff and agencies

Spain ordered a two-week quarantine for all travellers 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 travellers will have to remain locked in and will only be allowed to go out for grocery shopping, to visit health centres, or in case of "situation of need", an official order published on Tuesday said.

But the move is aimed at travellers arriving by sea and air and is not expected to have any impact on border flow between Gibraltar and La Linea, which is already subject to strict restrictions.

Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said the measure, which specifically also excludes cross-border workers, “is of no practical application whatsoever to Gibraltar”.

“Gibraltar was carved out from the application of the suspension of the movement of people in and out of Spain through land frontiers, as Andorra was carved out in order to permit continued transit in particular affects cross frontier workers,” he said.

“Spain has rules in place which only allowed you at a particular time to move to go to a place of work or to go to shop etc if you were a resident of Spain.”

“Those rules haven’t changed, so you can only enter Spain at the moment if you are a resident of Spain or indeed if you’re going to carry out a job which relates to the transport industry or some other necessary industry.”

And with an eye on the coming weeks and months, he added: “We’re communicating with the Spanish authorities as to when the lifting of restrictions on movement in and out of Spain through land frontiers occurs so that Gibraltar will have the benefit of that.”

The quarantine measure will be enforced for all travellers 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, enjoying a range of attractions from beach holidays on coastal resorts to exploring historic cities such as Toledo and Granada.

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.

The measures applies to all travellers, 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 travelling 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.