Germany has updated its travel advice for some of Spain's most popular tourist spots after a spike in coronavirus cases. Authorities are concerned Germans returning from holidays could cause a surge in new cases.
Germany's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday issued a notice warning against tourist travel to three Spanish regions due to "renewed high levels of infections and local lockdowns."
The updated advice applies to Aragon, Navarra, and Catalonia — including the popular coastal city of Barcelona and Costa Brava.
In a statement, Catalonia's government said it regretted the new advisory.
"We do not get into evaluating the decisions by other countries but we obviously don't share it. The Catalan government is responsible … and we are working to protect the life and health of people that live here or are visiting us," Catalonia's foreign affairs chief Bernat Sole said.
Aragon's regional government called Berlin's travel recommendation "discriminatory."
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Germany's Foreign Ministry stopped short of issuing a formal travel warning or adding the three Spanish regions to a list of high-risk areas. Under new rules, travelers returning from high-risk zones must undergo a mandatory virus test upon returning to Germany.
Germany lifted its travel warning for Spain on June 21, as European countries gradually reopened their borders following a monthslong shutdown. At the same time, hard-hit Spain ended a state of emergency imposed due to the pandemic. However, a recent rise in cases has prompted most Spanish regions to enforce rules for masks, and in some areas such as Barcelona, orders for people to stay home.
A blow for Spanish tourism?
Germany isn't the only country raising concerns about travel to Spain. Norway has imposed a 10-day quarantine for people returning from the Iberian peninsula, and France has urged citizens not to go to Catalonia. Over the weekend, the UK also announced that people returning from Spain would have to isolate for two weeks.
British Junior Minister Simon Clarke defended that decision on Tuesday, saying Britain's travel advice was guided by science and Spain's infection rate had increased.
"Obviously we continue to work very closely with Spanish authorities and wish them every success in getting this situation under control as quickly as possible," he told Sky.
His comments came after Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez described the move as a mistake, arguing that much of Spain had a lower infection rate than the UK.
nm/rc (AFP, dpa)