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Anger among the British community: "Our government treats us like refugees"

Anne Hernández.
Anne Hernández. / SUR
  • Tens of thousands of UK nationals resident on the Costa del Sol are indigant at the British government's decision to force arrivals from Spain into quarantine

The more than 40,000 British nationals registered as resident in the province of Malaga have been expressing their indignation this week at the UK government's decision to order all travellers arriving from Spain to self-isolate for two weeks.

Many described the decision as "unfair" and complained that once again - referring back to the Brexit negotiations - Brits in Spain feel "forgotten".

These were words used by the spokesperson of the organisation Brexpats in Spain, Anne Hernández, who spoke on Monday of the situation of British residents in Spain and especially on the Costa del Sol in no uncertain terms. "They're treating us as if we were refugees," she said indignantly.

The spokesperson for the association - which has around 10,000 members living in Spain - also expressed her doubts as to the real reasons behind the measure.

She pointed out that Boris Johnson's government took nearly ten days to decide whether face masks should be made obligatory, but the news of the quarantine rule came barely four hours before it came into force.

"There's something strange here," she said, "which seems like it has little to do with a health measure." Hernández hinted at a possible financial interest in keeping tourism within the UK and preventing an exodus to Spain.

"Last week we've seen British tourists buying tickets for 15 pounds to come to the Costa del Sol. I think that someone there has decided that tourism should stay in the United Kingdom," said Hernández.

The spokesperson, who was much in demand this week from Spanish and foreign media to give her views as a British resident in Spain, gave the example of the US, to illustrate her view that the measure makes no sense.

"No one denies that the health crisis is much worse there than in Spain, however you can go from Florida (where there are thousands of infections every day) to London and not have to quarantine," she explained.

The retired university lecturer also brought up the case of a nurse who arrived in London after a few days in Malaga and they let her (even encouraged her) to go back to work. "If this were serious, how could they let her gone back into a hospital. It's ridiculous," said Hernández.

The measure is not just affecting Brits in Spain who might have been planning to travel to their home country, but also those whose livelihoods depend on UK tourists.

"There are bars, restaurants and shops that will be forced to close with this quarantine. Doesn't our government care about that?" said Hernández.

"Nobody can afford to spend 14 days at home. Not those who live there, nor the residents on the Costa. Jobs won't wait and people could lose theirs," added Hernández. "This is a disaster for everyone."