Spain quarantine measures roil travel industry, vacation plans; US stimulus in focus


The Atlantic Council’s Coronavirus Alert is a regular summary of policy, economic, and business events around the emergency. To stay updated, sign up to the Coronavirus Alert here.

In top stories today:

  • New UK quarantine measures on travelers returning from Spain roiled Europe’s travel industry and disrupted summer vacationers’ plans. Coronavirus cases increased from Hong Kong to Australia, while talks about a new US package of economic stimulus measures garner attention in the week ahead.
  • Back with a vengeance in places where it had all but vanished. That’s how The Wall Street Journal sums up a surge in cases in Hong Kong, Japan, and Australia. Hong Kong tightened measures on July 27 to halt the spread of infections, with gatherings of more than two people prohibited, a complete ban on restaurant dining, and compulsory face masks in all public places including outside, CNBC reported.
  • Spanish government officials insisted coronavirus is under control after the UK imposed a fourteen-day quarantine on all arrivals from the country, the BBC said. Spain’s Catalonia region, which includes the city of Barcelona, faces a critical situation with coronavirus outbreaks, regional President Joaquim Torra told reporters on July 27, Bloomberg reported.
  • The statistics say… Spain recorded 39.4 cases per 100,000 residents in the past two weeks, especially in Catalonia in the northeast and neighboring Aragón, compared with 14.6 infections per 100,000 for France and the United Kingdom, the BBC reported.
  • About 600,000 UK tourists are set to fly into Spain this week, according to estimates based on flight-tracking data from travel public-relations group PC Agency, the Financial Times reported.
  • QUOTE: “We took the decision as swiftly as we could, and we cannot make apologies for doing so,” UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in an interview with Sky News on July 26, Bloomberg reported.
  • Germany faces a “very concerning” trend of infections after an outbreak at a farm in Bavaria, Bloomberg cited the country’s public health authority as saying. “UK keeps eye on France, Germany after slapping coronavirus quarantine on Spain” reads a Reuters headline.
  • People who show symptoms and keep going to work—that’s the biggest driver of new infections in Australia’s biggest current outbreak of infections, The Associated Press cited Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews as saying. The state, including the city of Melbourne that’s nearly midway through a six-week lockdown, recorded a record 532 cases on July 27, the news service added.
  • QUOTE: “We reported only two cases on June 9, less than six weeks ago, and this shows how quickly outbreaks can occur and spread,” said Australia’s deputy chief medical officer Michael Kidd, The Wall Street Journal reported.
  • Countries will need to do more to contain the spread of coronavirus within their own borders as bans on international travel cannot stay in place indefinitely, the World Health Organization’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on July 27, Reuters reported.
  • QUOTE: “It is going to be almost impossible for individual countries to keep their borders shut for the foreseeable future,” Tedros said, Reuters reported. “Economies have to open up, people have to work, trade has to resume.”
  • EVENT: German Parliamentary State Secretary Thomas Silberhorn discusses Germany’s agenda for European defense initiatives during its EU Presidency, the country’s current operations abroad from Afghanistan to Mali, and transatlantic security cooperation. Join us at 4:00 p.m. EDT on Monday, July 27. Details are here.
  • Public schools in South Africa will close for four weeks from July 27 after reopening partially in early June as the country contends with one of the fastest-growing outbreaks in the world, The Wall Street Journal reported. The peak of infections could extend into September, according to models, the Journal added.
  • The statistics say… South Africa, the continent’s most developed economy, has 434,200 confirmed cases, the fifth-highest in the world behind the United States, Brazil, India, and Russia, the Journal said.
  • QUOTE: “The consequences of not acting are all too predictable: hunger, violence, political instability, and migration. The cost of action is relatively small,” wrote the Financial Times editorial board in a piece entitled “Africa needs more help with its pandemic response.” “Some of the world’s poorest countries have shown they are far from helpless. But they could do with a hand. The world needs to pay them more attention. It is both the right and the wise thing to do.”
  • Vietnam confirmed its first community infections since April on July 25, with another three cases the following day, and all in or around the tourist hotspot of Danang, CNBC reported. Officials will now evacuate 80,000 people from the coastal city, most of them local tourists, a process that will take at least four days, CNBC added. Vietnam had kept its tally of cases to 420 with no deaths, thanks to strict quarantine and widespread testing, the news outlet reported.
  • Coronavirus cases in India increased by 20 percent in the past week to 1.4 million, making it the country with the fastest growth in new cases worldwide, trailing only the United States and Brazil, Bloomberg reported, citing its own tracker of infections. The states of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka are the hardest hit, the newswire said.


  • Senate Republicans are expected to present a one trillion dollar package of economic stimulus measures on July 27, a starting point for talks with Democrats as the previous pandemic unemployment benefits are set to expire at the end of the month, severing a lifeline for workers who lost their jobs, Reuters reported.
  • US Federal Reserve officials, who meet on July 28 and July 29, face growing doubts about a sustained economic recovery in the United States without a more sustained response to the rise in coronavirus infections, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing their speeches and interviews this month. “What tools can the Fed use to support the recovery?” runs the headline to a Financial Times explainer piece.
  • The Financial Times publishes another explainer article including a series of graphics to gauge the global economy’s return to pre-pandemic levels, drawing on data about job vacancies to pollution, retail footfall to the recovery of China’s economy.
  • As lockdowns ease across Europe many stores in and near residential areas are set to benefit as consumers are not keen on venturing far from home, leaving the region’s renowned shopping districts from Berlin’s Kurfürstendamm to London’s West End struggling, Reuters reported.
  • Psychological fatigue with social distancing, especially among young adults who are less fearful of the virus and suffer more both economically and socially by staying at home—that, Bloomberg reported, is emerging as a major issue in curbing a pandemic that’s now in its eighth month. From Spain to Japan, infections among Millennials and Generation Z are driving an increase in cases that do not appear to be abating despite the re-imposition of restrictions, the newswire reported.
  • “The US has more COVID-19 testing than most. So why is it falling so short?” a Reuters headline asks. Labs’ reliance on automated equipment that means they have to use proprietary chemical kits and other equipment made by just a handful of companies is at the heart of the crisis, the newswire said.


  • Low-cost airline Ryanair posted a loss of 185 million euros in its first fiscal quarter through June, slightly exceeding analyst estimates, and said it expects traffic to decline by 60 percent in the fiscal year 2020-2021, CNBC reported. It couldn’t give guidance on the outlook for the rest of the year because of uncertainty around coronavirus, CNBC added.
  • Shares in the European travel and tourism industry fell by more than 3 percent in the first hour of trading on concern about the increase in coronavirus cases in the region, with Tui, easyJet and International Airlines Group—the owner of British Airways—down by about 10 percent, CNBC reported.
  • QUOTE: “We cannot rule out that there will not be further pay cuts and job losses if things get worse, not better,” referring to a second wave of coronavirus infections in the fall, said Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary, the Financial Times reported.
  • Property managers are rushing to make costly upgrades of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems before buildings reopen as research shows that coronavirus may spread via shared air, Bloomberg reported. Companies including Honeywell, Carrier Global, and Trane Technologies are among the beneficiaries of surging demand, the newswire added.
  • QUOTE: “I’m a living example of what this virus can do and how it is serious,” said Stephen Cameron, 42, the Scottish pilot, who spent more than two months on a ventilator in Vietnam and, as the country’s sickest patient became known nationwide as Patient 91, the BBC reported. “I don’t think the [National Health Service] could cope if there was a wave of people who needed the amount of care and life support that I needed.”
  • EVENT: A panel of public and private sector experts discusses the prospect of offshore wind development amid a post-pandemic clean energy recovery. Join us for this event at 10:00 a.m. EDT on Monday, July 27. Details are here.