The ban on holidaying to Spain is perfectly logical

As someone who was hoping to have a holiday in the Balearic Islands this summer, I can share in the widespread frustration over the Government's decision to put Spain on a travel blacklist, compelling British tourists to self-isolate for 14 days on their return. At first, the islands, which include Mallorca and Ibiza, were omitted from the Foreign Office list that advises against anything but non-essential travel, and then the next day they were. Unpack your swimsuit and Ambre Solaire - you're going nowhere.

At face value, there doesn't appear to be any logic in the blanket ban on travel to Spain and its islands, given that the serious spikes in coronavirus there are largely localised to the areas of Catalonia (where the situation is becoming critical), Galicia and Aragon.

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The Balearic Islands, for example, have a significantly lower infection rate than Britain: you'd be at more risk of contracting Covid in PallMall than Palma. But the Government has, in this instance at least, acted properly and in accordance with their previous advice. At the end of June, when it was announced that around 50 countries were "safe" to visit over the summer, an official spokesman said this: "We will not hesitate to put on the brakes if any risks re-emerge, and this system will enable us to take swift action to re-introduce self-isolation measures if new outbreaks occur overseas. "

People wait to enter a beach that was closed by police due to crowding in Barcelona, Spain (Photo: AP/Emilio Morenatti)

As we have seen the infection rate in Spain rise, it should hardly have come as a surprise that the Government did indeed take "swift action". It was clearly a mistake that the Balearics and Canaries were not included immediately in the ban, but given the enormous amount of traffic from the Spanish mainland to the islands over the peak holiday period, it was surely sensible to extend the "non-essential travel" advisory. Over the past two weeks, Spain has recorded 39.4 new infections per 100,000 people, and this compares with 14.6 for Britain.

And the trend in Spain continues upward. Those people who - correctly - complained that our government was too slow to react at the start of our outbreak cannot now accuse it of acting peremptorily. The chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, said intransigence wasn't an option in response to the rise in new infections in Spain, together with the fact that 10 Britons had just tested positive on return from Spain.

This was "statistically significant," said Professor Whitty. It is easy to understand why people are confused by the various injunctions that have emanated from Westminster. Some are designed to protect us: others to protect the economy.

So we are told to work from home for the good of our health, but then urged to go to the office for the sake of restaurants and shops. We have to wear face masks in shops but not in restaurants. It's all right to sit next to someone for two hours on a plane, but not at an open-air venue.

All very baffling, and that's why some people are making their own risk/benefit calculations. At least the ban on holiday travel to Spain is logical. Other countries may soon join it on the banned list.

Ah well, Scotland it is, then.

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