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Tensions Between London and Madrid over Sudden Quarantine — Is There a Way Out?

According to an investigation by the quality Spanish newspaper El Pais published on Sunday, the country’s COVID-19 death toll could be nearly 60% higher than the officially announced number of 28,432.

The official count could underestimate the virus’ toll due to the lack of extensive testing, mainly in the early stages of the outbreak. El Pais journalists counted regional statistics of all the alleged and confirmed fatalities from the novel virus to find out there were a total of 44,868 deaths.

If the numbers are accurate, this will make Spain’s outbreak the second deadliest in Europe after Britain’s. Spain’s Ministry of Health has not yet commented on the publication.

In the last few weeks, Spain has witnessed a sharp increase in the confirmed COVID-19 cases, prompting more regions to impose rules for facial covering everywhere.

In some regions, the local governments even recommended wearing face masks at home during large family gatherings. One of the most popular touristic places, Barcelona, called for people to remain at home.

United Kingdom was among the first European countries to respond to the large jump in coronavirus cases in Spain. On Sunday, British foreign minister Dominic Raab confirmed that all travelers returning from Spain would be a subject of a 14-day quarantine.

Asked why the decision was taken without notice, Raab stated that the British government got the data on Friday and had to come up with ”a real-time response.” Raab also noted that London would not apologize to Madrid for reacting accordingly to protect its citizens.

The government also advised against all but essential travels to Spain, leaving the popular islands out of the advice but including the quarantine measure.

According to Antonio Perez, mayor of the Spanish resort of Benidorm, that is hugely dependent on British tourists, the news is ”a tough blow.” Tourism in Spain counts for 12% of the GDP. Britons made up the largest group of foreign visitors.

Spanish foreign minister, Arancha Gonzalez Laya, said that the country is in urgent talks with the British government to convince it to exclude the Balearic and Canary Islands from the quarantine period.

”Spain is safe for the Spaniards and for the tourist,” Laya said on Sunday, adding that the government will take similar measures to other countries based on epidemiologic data, but there would not be any retaliation.

What do you think? Do you support or oppose the Spanish statement that London should exclude the touristic islands from the quarantine measure to help the struggling hospitality sector?