Spain is unfairly blamed by UKLaurence Lemoine
Lately, the Covid crisis is amplifying the tensions between bordering countries, the current situation between Spain and UK on one hand and the “so said” eventual closing of the border between Spain and France on the other hand. This could give rise to smiles if hundreds of thousands of lives weren’t at stake.
Before “advising not to travel to Catalonia” as the French prime minister did a few days ago, or imposing 14 days quarantine as United Kingdom has, it would be preferable not to give way to panic and to check the statistics. Moreover, the figures of the “new cases” don’t mean anything if they’re not put into perspective in relation to actual performed tests.
Since last Sunday, United Kingdom has been imposing a quarantine to anyone who comes back from Spain, regardless of the region. As a consequence, some travel agencies have already cancelled their offers and some airlines, their flights. But these measures also affect regions that are well spared by the resurgence of contagions such as Canary and Balearic Islands, Andalusia and Valencia’s Region. In total, 11 out of 17 Spanish regions have better statistics than England or Belgium.
The Comunidad Valenciana only has 13,3 cases out of 100 000 inhabitants, which is 1,5 point down on England. This rate is even lower in Andalusia (11,0), Balearics (8,0) and Canary Islands (5,8). We must also take into account the fact that the new cases are between 25 and 40 years old and that there are less and less cases that need hospitalisation and therefore there are fewer and fewer deaths in the last several weeks. For example, since July 15th, 23 deaths in Spain whereas UK is at more than 900 deaths for the same period. So maybe, it’s Spain that should impose 14 days quarantine and not the contrary.
In this context, The Generalitat Valenciana’s president, Ximo Puig, asked the UK authorities to make an exception for Valencia’s Region, particularly the Costa Blanca, about the mandatory quarantine and the recommendation not to travel to Spain. In Andalusia, the vice-president Juan Marin recalled the importance of British tourism for his country and his region.
The British are one of Spain’s driving force for their tourism trade: in 2019, they were 18 million which is much more than German and French visitors (respectively 11,2 and 11,1 million).
WHAT ABOUT THE BORDER BETWEEN FRANCE AND SPAIN?
Concerning the rumours about closing the borders between France and Spain, once again, it’s preferable not to give way to panic and especially, to set things in their context: some blogs have come to like sensational headlines and quoted the French prime minister Jean Castex who answered with the conditional tense to a question which was just a hypothesis. No need to be an expert or a prime minister to know that “if coronavirus cases were starting to increase dangerously, then a border closure could be considered” …
We have not reached this stage, even if the evolution of the pandemic is worrying and unpredictable, both in France and Spain.