Shares of airlines and travel agencies – already on their knees due to coronavirus lockdowns – fell as Spain pleaded for Britain to exclude the Balearic and Canary Islands from quarantine.
The British move, leaked ahead of an official announcement on Saturday, has shaken the plans of hundreds of thousands of British tourists and raised the specter of limits on more countries.
“We need to keep the situation under review and I think that’s what the public expects of us,” young Health Minister Helen Whately told Sky News when asked that Germany and France could be on the verge of quarantine.
“If we see the rates increasing in a country where at the moment there is no need to quarantine, if we see the rates increasing, we will have to take action because we cannot take the risk of the coronavirus spreading again across the UK, ”she said.
In Europe, Russia reported 40,762 new cases last week, Spain 12,166, France 5,858, the UK 4,662 and Germany 3,932, according to Johns Hopkins University.
As the coronavirus wreaks even more economic chaos, a second wave of travel restrictions could destroy swathes of European tourism businesses.
Germany, France and the UK are by far the biggest consumers of tourism in Europe, while 9,835 flights are expected to leave the UK for Spain between July 26 and August 31.
Airlines and travel shares fell: EasyJet fell 14%, the biggest drop in one-day intraday percentage since March, when the rapid spread of COVID-19 forced flights to a virtual halt. British Airways owner IAG fell 8% and travel company TUI fell 11%.
Ryanair Group chief executive Michael O’Leary said the UK quarantine was “an overreaction, mismanaged”. Ryanair does not plan to reduce its flight capacity to Spain.
“I have no doubt that we will see more localized outbreaks and we need to be flexible enough to deal with them as they arise in the coming weeks and months,” CFO Neil Sorahan told Reuters in an interview. following the publication of quarterly financial results.
THE ISLANDS TOO MUCH?
Spain, long a favorite of British tourists, said it was safe for tourists and was trying to convince London it should exclude the Balearic and Canary Islands from the quarantine measure.
“For some islands the fares are indeed on the rise, there is also travel between the islands and the mainland, so we had to put in place a clear policy that would best protect the UK,” Whately said at the BBC.
But The Sun newspaper reported that British ministers were considering removing quarantine measures for people coming from the Canary Islands and the Balearics after an outcry from tourists and the travel industry.
TUI UK, which is part of the TUI vacation company, has said it will cancel all holidays in mainland Spain until August 9, while maintaining flights to the Balearic and Canary Islands.
“What we would really like – and I think we will need it as the world changes – is nuanced politics,” TUI Managing Director Andrew Flintham told the BBC.
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