Spain is fighting to save its embattled tourism industry after the UK government imposed a 14-day quarantine on all arrivals from the country.
Government officials insist the virus is under control and want certain areas to be exempt from the UK self-isolation order, including the Balearic Islands.
About 18 million Britons travelled to Spain in 2019 – almost a quarter of all arrivals in the country.
But junior health minister Helen Whately has defended the quarantine.
Ms Whately told the BBC that after all the “sacrifices” made during the lockdown, the UK could not take the risk of going back to a situation of rising virus rates across the country.
Spain’s rate of infection has jumped in recent days. While the outbreak remains under control in many parts of Spain, certain areas – in particular Catalonia in the north-east and the neighbouring region of Aragón – have seen a huge spike in infections.
According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC),the country recorded 39.4 cases per 100,000 inhabitantsover the last two weeks.
The UK and neighbouring France both have a figure of 14.6 infections per 100,000 residents.
What’s the latest from Spain?
Local authorities have issued stay-at-home orders for some four million residents in Catalonia, including in the regional capital Barcelona. On Monday, Catalonia’s President Quim Torra said even stricter lockdown measures could be imposed if infection numbers did not improve in the next 10 days.
“We are facing the 10 most important days of summer,” he said. The region recorded 5,487 infections last week compared to 3,485 the week before, Mr Torra told reporters, adding that the situation was “very critical”.
But Mr Torra also assured people that the region remained safe for tourists. Speaking in English, he said that “measures had been taken” and people “can visit most of the region safely”.
Spain imposed one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns in March to tackle coronavirus. The tight restrictions helped curb the infection rate, but also severely damaged the economy – in particular tourism.
Tourism accounts for about 11% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), and a huge number of visitors come from the UK.
As a result, the country has been desperate to bring back visitors to help revive struggling towns and resorts.