As coronavirus sweeps Spain the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has updated its travel information, now urging Britons in the country to return to the UK. It comes following the decision by Spanish authorities to issue a State of Emergency (“Estado de Alarma”) on 14 March.
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The latest advice on the FCO website reads: “Cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) have been confirmed in Spain.
“The Spanish authorities have put in place a series of measures to limit the spread of the virus.
“If you’re currently in Spain, follow the advice of local authorities. Anybody planning to travel to Spain should consult their airline or tour operator.
“British travellers who are currently in Spain and who wish to return to the UK are advised to make travel plans to do so as soon as possible.
“Spain declared a State of Emergency (“Estado de Alarma”) on 14 March, which introduces a series of measures including significant restrictions on movement throughout the country in response to the coronavirus outbreak.”
The Spanish government is now implementing extreme measures in a bid to slow the spread of the virus and the consequent strain on its public health system.
One of these measures includes the closure of all hotels and accommodation.
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The FCO advises: “If you’re currently on holiday in Spain, check with your tour operator or accommodation provider for further information.
“If you’re travelling and wish to return to the UK, contact your tour operator, checking the website of their airlines or ferry companies for further advice.
“The Spanish authorities may ask British travellers to move hotels before 24 March and have underlined that no-one will be left without accommodation.”
The measures do not apply to long term accommodation, such as long-stay campsites, as long as clients can cater for themselves, in their own spaces.
Communal areas, such as food halls or shower blocks, will now be forced to close.
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Public gatherings are now also banned, as well as nonessential shops. Those selling food will remain open and all citizens are being asked to stay at home unless carrying our necessary tasks.
Transport services are running on a reduced level.
Travel to airports to leave Spain is still permitted, but travellers may be asked to provide evidence that they are departing Spain.
The FCO adds: “From Tuesday 17 March until the end of the State of Emergency, land borders are closed for entry to Spain, with the following exceptions: Spanish nationals, Spain residents, frontier workers and those able to prove that they need to enter for essential reasons.
“The land borders remain open for those leaving Spain. British nationals can still drive through France to return to the UK, but they will need to complete an ‘attestation’ (declaration) specifying the reason for being outside.”
The FCO has been monitoring the decisions of the Spanish authorities over recent weeks and providing advice based on the most up-to-date decisions.
The State of Emergency was decided upon as the number of confirmed cases surpassed 13,000.
Secretary of State Dominic Raab explained to the British public yesterday that the FCO’s advice for Britons to avoid “all but essential travel” for 30 days was in response to a number of countries taking out extreme decisions “without notice”.
“In some countries or particularly cases where there haven’t yet been any reported cases of COVID-19 local authorities are nonetheless imposing restrictions on movement, and again doing so with little or sometimes no notice whatsoever,” he said. In light of those circumstances we want to reduce the risk of leaving vulnerable British travellers or tourists stranded overseas.”
Meanwhile, Travel Expert Simon Calder has warned of the negative impact these decisions could have on the future of the global economy.
Appearing on ITV’s This Morning he said the consequences of what he describes as “empty pointless” decisions of some governments will “cause social and economic problems.”
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