Do not travel to the Barcelona region unless absolutely necessary. That is the advice that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs gives to the Dutch on Monday. Belgium and the United Kingdom previously issued negative travel advice for Spain. Which indicators determine which travel advice is set?
Belgium has even marked several Spanish regions with red: travel under no circumstances. Earlier in the day, the Netherlands did not see sufficient reason to follow the example of its neighbors, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told NU.nl.
For the Belgians and British, recent flares of the virus in Spanish regions were the reason for ordering their inhabitants to stay at home. The Spanish government is strongly opposed to this. For example, the UK has been called upon to allow travel to the Balearic and Canary Islands. Some 18 million British people travel to the southern European country every year.
According to the spokesman for Foreign Affairs, there is contact with other countries, but adjusting travel advice always remains the decision of one country.
During the corona pandemic, “certainly at the beginning of the crisis”, frequent consultations with EU Member States were held on travel advice to stem the corona outbreak, the spokesman said. In addition, rules that apply in one country can surprise tourists from other countries.
The spokesperson mentions as an example that if a Dutchman returns from his holiday from Spain and wants to go to Belgium shortly afterwards, the person must be quarantined with the southern neighbors. “Those are the rules that apply there: if you have been in Spain, you must be quarantined.”
The ministry is at the controls
The ministry is ultimately responsible for travel advice. When a country closes its borders before Dutch people or residents can be exposed to life-threatening situations, travel advice can be tightened.
The ministry collects information describing the situation on the spot through local government agencies such as embassies and contacts with travel organizations and companies.
Because the corona pandemic is a virus or health situation, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) plays an important role. The health experts receive the data collected by the ministry, collect data themselves and base this on whether the travel advice with regard to a country should be tightened, an advice that the ministry often adopts.
Young people on the beach of Barcelona. (Photo: Pro Shots)
Positive tests and clusters are indicators
The number of recently conducted corona tests in a country, the number of people who tested positive and clusters formed are important indicators. “Partly because of this, it was advised to tighten the travel advice with regard to Croatia, but not Spain,” said a spokesman for RIVM.
Relaxation of travel advice is also only relevant if RIVM has given a blessing. “The travel advice must fit in with other advice that calls for not going abroad. You don’t want to give the virus free rein. But at some point it became clear that traveling to Spain was possible again.”