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Tourism industry in Spain and UK calls for airport testing to recover safe travel

Passengers waiting to check in at Malaga Airport this week.
Passengers waiting to check in at Malaga Airport this week. / ÑITO SALAS
  • The Costa has called for the Spanish government to test passengers, while UK bosses put pressure on London to find alternatives to quarantine

The Costa del Sol tourism authority has called for the Spanish government to introduce Covid-19 testing at airports to restore confidence in the travel industry that is still trembling from the blow dealt by London on Saturday night when it announced that all travellers arriving from Spain would have to self-isolated for two weeks.

The authority’s president, Francisco Salado, also called for top-level diplomacy to prevent the British quarantine rule having a domino effect among other countries.

The call for testing comes after the Spanish tourist accommodation confedertion, CEHAT, offered to start giving foreign guests tests as they leave their hotels.

Heathrow backs testing

Meanwhile Covid-19 tests at airports are among the alternatives to quarantine suggested by the CEO of Heathrow, John Holland-Kaye, on Wednesday. He said airports should be allowed to test for coronavirus and suggested a double test, one at the airport on arrival and another “five or eight days later”.

Holland-Kaye was among the nearly 50 UK business leaders who signed a letter to British PM Boris Johnson criticising the blanket quarantine rule affecting Spain.

The letter, whose signatories include British Airways and Airlines UK chiefs Alex Cruz and Tim Alderslade, said that this latest blow could leave the sector “permanently scarred”.

“We are in a situation where the government is advising against travel to areas of Spain that have lower rates of Covid than the UK,” the letter said, asking for an emergency meeting with Johnson.

"Not an alternative"

The UK’s Secretary of State for Digital, Culture and Sport, Oliver Dowden, said that there was currently “no viable alternative to the 14 days of quarantine” and that the testing system suggested by the Heathrow boss was not a “silver bullet” to avoid a need for self-isolation.