Madrid, May 12 (Reuters) – Spain ordered a two-week quarantine for all travellers coming into the country from Friday (May 15) in a bid to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus after as the country emerges from one of the Europe’s strictest lockdowns, 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 exit for grocery shopping, go to health centres and in case of “situation of need”, an official order published on Tuesday said.
The quarantine has been 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 quarantine order can be extended jointly with possible state of emergency extensions.
Spain 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 per cent 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.
Shares of International Consolidated Airlines, which owns Iberia airline, were down 2.6 per cent, in morning trading, while shares of Melia Hotels, whose largest market is Spain, were down 4.7 per cent. Airlines booking tech company Amadeus was falling 2.6 per cent.
The measures applied 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.