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Spain quarantines overseas travellers as coronavirus death toll pace slows

A healthcare worker takes a passenger's temperature at the Adolfo Suarez Barajas Airport, after the Spanish government announced that from May 15th all people entering the country will have to go under quarantine for two weeks, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Madrid, Spain, May 15, 2020. REUTERS/Juan Medina

Spain started imposing a quarantine on incoming overseas travellers on Friday and added new restrictions to international traffic to prevent the spread of the coronavirus as the country's daily death toll drops.

From Friday, people arriving from abroad must spend two weeks self-quarantined at home. Additionally, the authorities extended existing restrictions to entry into Spain until June 15 and limited the access to five airports and eight sea ports.

The measure, which excludes cross-border workers, is not expected to have any impact at Gibraltar’s frontier with Spain, where flow is already restricted as a result of Spain’s lockdown measures.

Only residents in Spain are currently allowed to cross north and there is little prospect of any change to that restriction in the short-term.

Yesterday, as the quarantine came into affect, the few dozen passengers coming from abroad in the different Spanish airports were tested for fever and received a sheet of paper with instructions they must follow.

"We cannot leave our homes for 14 days, only to go to the doctor or supermarket, that we keep the security distance, always wear the mask when we go out, and that's about it." said Rosalie Gallego, a passenger who landed on Friday in Madrid on a flight from Havana.

The new restrictions imposed on travellers come as the numbers of new fatalities was down to 138 on Friday from more than 200 the day before. The daily number has been steadily falling since reaching 950 in early April.

Authorities have said the strict lockdown imposed in the country and the travel restrictions from abroad have contributed to curbing the contagion.

The number of diagnosed cases rose on Friday to 230,183, although the antibody testing of a sample of 60,000 people across Spain had pointed to as many as 2.3 million people have had the disease.

Over the past days, Spanish authorities have starting easing the rules at different paces in the separate regions. In some areas of the country, bars and restaurants have even been authorized to open terraces, while the lockdown in more severe in worst-hit areas such as Madrid and Barcelona, Spain's two largest cities.

The lockdown phase-out has raised concerns that a second-wave outbreak could hit the country. Those fears have justified the quarantine imposed on overseas travellers and the other restrictions to international travel, officials said.

However the move was not welcome in France.

French authorities said they would reciprocate and impose a quarantine to travellers coming from Spain.
Spanish Interior Minister Fernando Grandes Marlaska dismissed any tension with France.

"There is no unease, these are measures taken within the European Union framework," he told radio station Cadena Ser on Friday.