Spain hopes France will keep border open despite Catalonia’s surge in Covid-19 cases

Spain’s Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto believes a resurgence in coronavirus cases in Catalonia shouldn't prompt the closure of its border with France.

Spain hopes France will keep border open despite Catalonia's surge in Covid-19 cases
Photo: AFP

Maroto said on Wednesday that a rise in coronavirus cases in Catalonia was coming under control, Reuters reported.

Despite new curbs being imposed on hundreds of thousands of residents in the region the minister hoped there would be no need for France to close the border. 

French Prime Minister Jean Castex on Sunday did not rule out closing the border prompting concern in Spain where the epidemic has devastated the usual thriving tourism industry.

Tourism accounts for about 12% of Spain’s economic output.

“With the latest data we have in Aragon and Catalonia we are a bit more optimistic. Catalonia has already reduced the number of infections over the last three days,” Maroto told an event organised by Europa Press news agency. 

“Let’s hope that with this better data we don’t have to close a border that for us is very important for mobility with our European partners.” 

The French are particularly alarmed at clusters popping up in Catalonia.

READ ALSO: Spain's Covid-19 infection rate triples in just over two weeks

“We are monitoring this very closely, here in particular, because it is a real issue that we also need to discuss with the Spanish authorities,” French PM Castex said in response to a question about the possible closure of borders.

The border was reopened on June 21 after three months of strict confinement on the Spanish side to contain the pandemic.

Authorities in Barcelona have cut the number of people allowed onto the city’s beaches and urged four million residents to stay at home. Despite the advice crowds flocked to beach resorts at the weekend. 

Health Minister Salvador Illa told parliament there are 224 active coronavirus clusters in Spain, mostly linked to parties, family events and fruit harvesting. 

He said the situation in Catalonia and Aragon was worrying: “We shouldn’t be afraid of the virus but we also shouldn’t lose respect for it,” Illa told lawmakers.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Spain is the only EU country (apart from Luxembourg) where the number of coronavirus cases is on the up, a rise of 103 percent in its cumulative infection incidence over a 14-day period. 

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Macron demands France take ‘protective measures’ against Covid rise in China

French President Emmanuel Macron has asked his government to take "protective measures" as China sees an explosion of Covid-19 cases. The EU was also set to meet on Thursday to discuss measures.

Macron demands France take 'protective measures' against Covid rise in China

Macron has made it clear he is following developments in China very closely and has asked his government to put in place appropriate measures.

Those measures were yet to be announced on Thursday morning but the French government could follow the path of Italy and impose all travellers from China to provide a negative Covid-19 test before arriving in the country.

The French government said it was “ready to study all the useful measures that could be implemented in conjunction with France’s European partners and within the legal framework that exists today”.

On August 1, 2022 France adopted new rules to combat Covid-19 after scrapping its state of emergency. The text gave the government the right – until January 31st 2023 – to require travellers aged 12 and over to present a negative Covid-19 test prior to entering the territory in the event of a “new variant likely to constitute a serious health threat.” 

In Brussels the European Commission was to hold a meeting on Thursday to “discuss possible measures for a coordinated approach” by EU states in response to the explosion of Covid-19 cases in China.

Italy said on Wednesday it was reinstating mandatory coronavirus tests for arrivals from China following an explosion in cases there, with Milan’s Malpensa airport finding around half of all passengers tested were positive.

Coronavirus infections have surged in China as it unwinds tight controls that had torpedoed the economy and sparked nationwide protests.

China on Monday scrapped quarantine for inbound travellers from January 8th onwards, dismantling the last remaining piece of its stringent zero-Covid policy and ending some of the world’s harshest border restrictions.