Wed | Aug 5, 2020

‘Second wave’ virus fears strike blow to tourism

Published:Wednesday | July 29, 2020 | 12:14 AM
Sunbathers enjoy the beach on the Balearic Island of Mallorca, Spain, on Tuesday.
Sunbathers enjoy the beach on the Balearic Island of Mallorca, Spain, on Tuesday.

LONDON (AP):

Concerns over a “second wave” of coronavirus infections brought on by returning vacationers are wreaking havoc across Europe’s tourism industry, particularly in Spain, following Britain’s effective ban on travel to the country.

In a move that reflects the continent’s piecemeal approach to keeping the virus at bay, the British government has recommended against all but essential travel to the whole of Spain, following an upswing in new infections.

As part of the new, stricter approach to travel to the country, all travellers arriving in Britain from that country will have to undergo a 14-day quarantine.

Signs of Second Wave

“I’m afraid you are starting to see in some places the signs of a second wave of the pandemic,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Tuesday in defending his government’s new travel advice.

“I’m afraid if we do see signs of a second wave in other countries, it is really our job, our duty, to act swiftly and decisively,” he added.

The move has not only dashed the hopes of many British holidaymakers for a getaway this summer, but also fanned renewed uncertainty within Europe’s tourism industry over how to plan ahead amid authorities’ responses to new COVID-19 outbreaks.

Johnson indicated that there could be further changes to the government’s travel advice for other holiday destinations in Europe.

Germany also tightened its travel advice for Spain, but did not go as far as the UK. Instead, it is advising against travel to the northeastern regions of Catalonia, Aragón and Navarra.

The head of Germany’s national disease control centre also warned of “really, really worrying” developments over the last two weeks amid a resurgence of virus outbreaks.

Robert Koch Institute chief Lothar Wieler pointed to “a lot of small outbreaks in various places at the same time” that are becoming more frequent.

Wieler urged his country’s citizens not to let their guard down and to stick to social distancing, hygiene and mask-wearing rules that “must never be questioned,” after new studies showed that people have become more complacent about COVID-19.

Britain’s new travel advice prompted holiday companies TUI UK and Jet2 to suspend flights to Spain, which is traditionally the most popular summer destination for British vacationers.

The UK has the highest official coronavirus death toll in Europe, with nearly 46,000 deaths. One of the reasons cited for that is that many travellers brought the virus back during the February school break after skiing trips in France, Italy and Spain.