PEDRO Sanchez has caused ‘damage’ to the Costa del Sol and Costa Tropical by not allowing them to enter Phase 1 of the coronavirus deescalation plan on Monday. 

That’s the verdict of Junta de Andalucia president Juanma Moreno, who complained to the Spanish prime minister and his government after Malaga and Granada were barred from entering the next stage.

Moreno told Sanchez today that it was ‘difficult to understand’ how health districts like the Costa del Sol, with 1.6 PCR cases per 100,000 people, could not enter Phase 1, while other districts with ‘much higher incidences could’.

The decision, the Partido Popular leader said, is causing ‘unnecessary reputational damage’ to holiday resorts like Malaga’s Costa del Sol and the Costa Tropical in Granada.

Both regions are desperate to begin reopening as the summer season approaches.

In a meeting between the PSOE leader and the heads of the autonomous communities, Moreno said the Andalucian proposal to keep just three health districts in Phase 0 (Malaga city and Granada city and its metropolitan area) was based on solid evidence.

He asked Sanchez to make clear his motives for rejecting the proposal and to explain why Andalucia has been treated differently to other regions.

It comes after Valencia and even Catalunya, the second-hardest hit region, were allowed to separate by health districts when it came to entering Phase 1.

The Ministry of Health had mandated that a territory had to be capable of coping with a COVID-19 rebound to enter Phase 1. That meant 1.5 to two available ICU beds per 10,000 inhabitants and 37 to 40 free beds for acute patients.

The southernmost region was prepared early, being among the first to institute lockdown measures, and was prepared to deal with 15,000 hospitalisations. This even included a field hospital in Malaga which was never used.

But Andalucia has had just over 6,000 COVID-19 patients hospitalised and just 742 admitted into ICU. It means it is beyond ready for a hypothetical rebound in cases.

Additionally, the regional average of 9.35 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the past 15 days (recorded Friday), is four times lower than the national average.

Only three health districts surpassed 10 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants (Malaga city, Granada city and its metropolitan area).

Hence the Junta joined other regions in asking that they be allowed to hold back certain health districts.

Andalucia was denied this, while Castilla y Leon, Catalunya and Valencia were not.

Moreno and regional health minister Jesus Aguirre said they would be working to ensure the whole of Andalucia enters Phase 1.

Director of health emergencies Fernando Simon commented on Friday night that the evolution of the virus in Granada and Malaga was ‘very good’ and that their case could be reviewed in the coming week.

Residents have speculated that the real concern is that people will travel to the likes of the Costa del Sol and Costa Tropical as soon as possible. With the weather improving and people allowed to travel to their second residences, it is alleged that leaders fear a flocking of sunseekers to the popular holiday destinations.

Opposition parties in Andalucia have criticised Moreno’s complaints, saying the experts should be trusted.

PSOE Andalucia told the PP leader to ‘stop this competition of who enters the next phase.’

Regional coordinator of the left-wing IU Toni Valero said: “We do not have a reason to politically question the decisions of the experts, who are the ones saving lives.

“Let’s not be like bad students who want to pass the course without having passed the exams.”

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