France Advises Citizens to Avoid Spain’s Catalonia

July 24, 2020 Updated: July 24, 2020

PARIS/MADRID—French Prime Minister Jean Castex advised people on Friday not to travel to the neighboring northeastern Spanish region of Catalonia in a bid to help contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Castex’s recommendation was the latest blow to Spain’s beleaguered tourism sector after Norway announced that travelers returning from the country would have to undergo a 10-day quarantine.

The French border with Spain remains open, but Castex said he was in talks with Madrid to reduce traffic flow.

“Concerning the situation in Catalonia, which is displaying worsened indicators for infection, we strongly encourage French citizens to avoid going there until the health situation improves,” Castex told reporters.

In Catalonia, 8,563 cases were diagnosed in the 14 days up to Thursday—almost half of the 17,842 detected throughout Spain—despite guidelines for residents of regional capital Barcelona to stay at home.

A source in Catalonia’s regional government said that the region, where wearing a mask is mandatory in public, was taking more stringent steps than France.

“We are holding everyone to a much higher degree of security than is asked elsewhere in Europe, such as in France,” the source said.

The Spanish prime minister’s office declined to comment.

Castex, who was speaking on the sidelines of a visit to Charles-de-Gaulle international airport, north of Paris, also said the government planned to reinforce controls at borders.

People arriving from 16 countries outside the European Union where the infection rate is deemed to be high will be subject to compulsory testing on arrival at French airports and sea ports. Those who test positive will be required to enter quarantine.

By Christian Lowe and Nathan Allen