Britons' hopes of a summer holiday in Spain crushed by Tourism Minister

Lucy Aspden
benidorm

The country is preparing to host tourist trials and open its borders on July 1 but Britons remain unwelcome

Spain’s Tourism Minister has left the hopes of thousands of Britons yearning to return to the Costas in tatters today when she said the UK’s coronavirus infection rate “still had to improve” before they’d be allowed to visit.

It comes as the Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, announced today that he will ask parliament to agree to a two-week extension of the state of emergency lockdown, until  June 21, according to newspaper El Pais. 

Despite this Spain is preparing to open its borders, welcome international tourists from certain countries, and drop the current 14-day quarantine rule from July 1. But the odds of Britons being allowed in by then time now looks even less likely as the UK death toll rose by 215 on May 30, compared to four in Spain on the same day.

“For us it is important to guarantee that people arrive healthy and leave healthy,” Tourism Minister Maria Reyes Maroto told Spanish media.

The news comes as the Balearic government put forward proposals for a scheme which, if successful, could see holidaymakers arriving in the country tested for coronavirus and then put into quarantine for up to six hours in their hotels as they await results. 

It plans to carry out a pilot to test the procedure, as well as other Covid-19 safety protocols, on 5,000 visiting German nationals in mid-June, before the country opens its borders further. Four hotels in Mallorca, in Platja de Palma and Alcúdia, have reportedly agreed to take part from June 16, as well as another in Ibiza and a one in Formentera. 

Reyes Maroto confirmed that Germany and Nordic countries such as Norway and Denmark look likely to be the first to be welcomed back to Spain. “At this moment, their epidemiological situations are very good,” she said.

Balearic island

Other regional government leaders are expected to be approached about the idea of running a pilot test for visitors, with popular spots such as the Costa Blanca and Costa del Sol pegged to be considered. 

Britain's hopes of being involved in such schemes have been dashed following Reyes Marotos comments. The same belief could mean discussions between the UK and Spanish governments about the possibility of an "air bridge" between the two nations could also be scrapped. Spain's health emergency chief Fernando Simon said earlier this week, before deciding which holidaymakers to let in, authorities "will take into account the incidence of the virus in the country of origin of foreign visitors". 

The death toll in Spain stood at 27,125 on Saturday, with a total 239,228 – the rate of infection has dramatically dropped since the country brought in some of the most stringent lockdown rules in the world.

Different parts of Spain are at different stages of easing out of those measures. In major hubs such as Madrid and Barcelona restrictions remain tightly monitored. Elsewhere, Benidorm mayor Toni Perez has confirmed beaches there will remain closed until mid-June while those in southern Marbella have the permission to open from tomorrow, allowing Spaniards the chance to sunbathe and swim in the sea for the first time in over two and a half months.

Four of Spain’s smallest islands, Formentera in the Balearics and La Gomera, La Graciosa and El Hierro in the Canaries, are much further along the process of returning to life beyond lockdown. The islands enter phase three of the four-stage plan tomorrow. This will allow bars and restaurants to open their outdoor terraces at an increased 75 per cent capacity with tables 1.5 metres apart, shopping malls and cinemas to operate at a limited capacity and groups of up to 20 people to meet.