Boris Johnson has warned that there are signs of a “second wave” of coronavirus in Europe – even as the UK continues to suffer more daily deaths from the virus than the entire EU combined.
The Prime Minister has found himself in a diplomatic row with Spain, after Downing Street warned against all but essential travel and insisting that travellers arriving in the UK from there spend a fortnight in quarantine after a spike in cases.
“I’m afraid you are starting to see in some places the signs of a second wave of the pandemic,” Johnson said.
Indicating that further action to restrict travel might be taken, he added: “It’s vital that when people are coming back from abroad, if they are coming back from a place where I’m afraid there is another outbreak, they must go into quarantine.
“That’s why we have taken the action that we have and we will continue, throughout the summer, to take such action where it is necessary.”
But the Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, pointed out that Britain arguably has a worse grip of the coronavirus than his own country.
He pointed out that the upsurge in coronavirus cases is focused in two regions, Catalonia and Aragon, adding: “In most of Spain, the incidence is very much inferior to even the numbers registered in the United Kingdom.”
More deaths than the whole EU
On Saturday, Britain reported 61 deaths from the Covid-19 – compared to 45 across the entire EU. Brits make up over a fifth of foreign visitors to Spain, which is heavily reliant on tourism.
Johnson said it was up to individuals to decide whether to take a holiday abroad this trouble. He said: “These are decisions for families, for individuals, about where they want to do.
“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 to stop … travellers coming back from those places seeding the disease here in the UK.”
Travel firm Tui UK cancelled all holidays to the Balearic Islands and Canary Islands after the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s (FCO) updated travel advice.
Tui’s decision runs from Tuesday 28 July up to and including Friday 31 July. Holidays to Spain’s mainland were already cancelled from Sunday 26 July up to and including Sunday 9 August.
The company said: “The UK Government must work closely with the travel industry as this level of uncertainty and confusion is damaging for business and disappointing for those looking forward to a well-deserved break.”