The European Commission, which is the executive arm of the European Union, on Monday called on Spain for “consistency” regarding its national and international travel restrictions linked to coronaviruses in the bloc of 27 countries. The call from Brussels came amid growing anger and confusion among Spaniards given that this Easter it will be possible for foreign tourists to vacation in Spain, while residents will not be allowed to travel. outside their regional borders.
The Commission also underlined that the risks of contagion are similar, whether the trips are made within or outside the borders of a country. “The recommendation [proposed by the Commission and adopted by the 27 EU countries] clearly states that, since transmission and risk are similar for national and cross-border travel, Member States should ensure that there is consistency between the measures applied to both types of travel, ”said the porter – EU speech for the rule of law, Christian Wigand. Monday.
Spanish regions have perimeter locks in place before Easter, but only the central government can limit the entry of tourists from the rest of Europe
The calls came after weeks of bewilderment and misunderstanding over the restrictions put in place before Easter week, especially as tourists are allowed to enter Spain from countries where the epidemiological situation is currently much worse .
The Spanish government, which is in charge of restrictions on international travel, defended the measures citing the difficulty of closing borders as well as the low risk due to the small number of tourists arriving. Additionally, those arriving by air or sea must present a negative PCR test before they can enter.
The Deputy Prime Minister and Head of Tourism of the Balearic Islands, Iago Negueruela, on Monday called on the Spanish government to screen all international visitors arriving to the islands “one by one”, in order to “ensure” that they are not infected. .
It was the regions of the country – which are in charge of not only their own health systems and the vaccination campaign, but also restrictions in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus – that implemented the perimeter locks before Easter. However, they cannot limit the entry of tourists from the rest of Europe – only the central government can.
Currently there are restrictions on flights from the UK, given the more contagious strain of the coronavirus that was first detected there, as well as on those from third countries outside the EU . For passengers arriving from other EU countries, the only obligation at this time is the presentation of a negative PCR on arrival at a port or airport. Travelers entering through a land border are not subject to the same requirement.
When asked about Spain, Wigand chose not to comment specifically on a single country. But he added the Commission’s position on internal displacement: the EU wants measures to be implemented at regional level, depending on the epidemiological situation in each area.
The Commission also argues that closing borders is not the most effective solution to control the pandemic. In fact, the executive has already warned several countries – including Germany and Belgium – to ban non-essential travel outside their territory, which it considers disproportionate. According to the spokesperson, the EU has powers over free movement within the Schengen area, but not the measures that each country adopts on its territory to control the spread of the coronavirus.
English version by Simon Hunter.