France’s prime minister Friday strongly recommended French citizens not travel to the Spanish region of Catalonia after a surge in COVID-19 cases there in recent weeks.
Prime Minister Jean Castex made the comments to reporters at Charles de Gaulle Airport just north of Paris. He said the French government is in discussion with Spanish and Catalan authorities, to limit the number of travelers coming into France from Spain as well. He said the border between the two countries would remain open for now.
Nearly 8,000 cases were diagnosed in Catalonia in the 14 days leading up to Thursday — almost half of the 16,410 detected throughout Spain during that time — despite guidelines for residents of regional capital Barcelona to stay at home.
Castex also told reporters France would begin compulsory testing of people arriving at French airports and seaports from 16 countries outside the European Union where the infection rate is high. Those who test positive will be required to enter quarantine.
The 16 countries include the United States, Brazil, Algeria, Bahrain, Israel, India, South Africa, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Panama, Peru, Serbia, Turkey and Madagascar.
Castex said around 3,000 arrivals from these countries are expected to be tested at the Charles de Gaulle Airport. He said the testing would be conducted as quickly as possible with the help of the Paris Hospital Service. The prime minister did not specify if people would have to wait at the airport for the results of their tests.