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UK advises against travel to mainland Spain and imposes quarantine over COVID-19 concern

The UK government has advised against all but essential travel to mainland Spain and told travellers they will have to self-isolate for 14 days on return home in a move to stem the rise in coronavirus cases.

The UK will remove Spain from its list of safe countries, or so-called travel corridors, on midnight on Saturday. Those who return to the UK before midnight may avoid the 14-day quarantine rules.

The British foreign ministry also said Spain’s Canary and Balearic Islands were not covered by the advice to avoid travel, but would still be subject to the quarantine.

"The FCO advises against all non-essential travel to mainland Spain based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risks," Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office said.

"The measure comes as Spain reported a rise in COVID-19 cases and as Catalonia shuts nightlife venues to prevent a second wave."

The travel sector and Spain's tourism industry will be hit hard as it tries to recover from the economic blow dealt by the coronavirus pandemic.

The abrupt move by the UK comes as Norway said on Friday it would re-impose a 10-day quarantine requirement for people arriving from Spain from Saturday.

Meanwhile, French Prime Minister Jean Castex "strongly recommended" French citizens avoid going to Catalonia. The Franco-Catalan border nevertheless remains open.

Spain recorded 280 new cases of COVID-19 in 24 hours on Friday, three times more than two weeks ago.

It comes less than a month after the country ended its lockdown.

The country is one of Europe's hardest hit by the pandemic, with more than 28,000 people killed by the virus and over 272,000 infections, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Meanwhile Catalonia, Spain's northeastern region which is the country's tourism powerhouse, announced on Friday it would close late-night bars and nightclubs for 15 days.

Opening hours for bingo halls, gambling halls, and casinos have also been reduced as the region fears a second wave.

Catalonia, which is famed for its beaches and the city of Barcelona, reported 1,493 new coronavirus cases and three deaths on Saturday.

On July 17, the Catalan regional government urged some four million people – including all residents of Barcelona – to stay at home and avoid gatherings of more than 10 people

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