Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez has criticised the government’s decision to quarantine those travelling from the country, pointing out that the numbers in his country remain lower than cases in Britain.
Sanchez described the decision as an ‘error’ and ‘unjust’, pointing out that the upsurge in coronavirus cases is focused in two regions, Catalonia and Aragon.
Speaking to Telecinco, he said: ‘In my opinion the error, and what is disproportionate about the UK’s response, is to consider the total accumulated incidents as if they represented the country as a whole.
‘Why? Because 64% of the new cases of newly infected are focussed in two territories.
‘In the great majority of the Spanish territory, it is very low, lower in fact than the rate in the UK.’
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Sanchez also hinted the decision could have been political as Brexit talks continue.
He continued: ‘We are two governments that are friends and government who have many, not only commercial, connections so economic and political connections.
‘There are also negotiations that are happening that will be very important in the coming months for the relationship of the UK with the European Union.
‘So I insist that before we have a go at each other, we must try to find a balance.’
But local government minister Simon Clarke told BBC Breakfast: ‘We respectfully disagree with the Spanish government’s position on this.
‘We obviously continue to work closely with them and we wish them every success in managing this outbreak, but we’ve seen a very sharp increase in cases in Spain.
‘A 75% increase in cases reported between the middle of last week and the end of last week. That’s why we took the action that we have.
‘Clearly, you do have to make decisions on a country-wide basis. There is going to be internal transfer within Spain and it’s important that we do our utmost to protect the public.’
Labour’s shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon said: ‘The government’s handling of this issue has been nothing short of chaotic. The airline industry and passengers need clarity.
‘The government must focus support on the sectors that desperately need it, like aviation, aerospace and its supply chain, which supports almost a quarter of a million jobs, with strict climate conditions and ensuring the gains are shared with the public.’