BRITISH and foreign tourists will most likely be able to return to Spain ‘safely’ in July.
That is the calculation of government minister Teresa Ribera, who is heading up the country’s coronavirus de-escalation plan.
Speakinig to Efe this morning, Ribera warned that opening Spain up too early would be ‘irresponsible’ and put people’s lives at risk.
“We have to be very careful that a person entering the country is not at risk and that they are arriving to a safe destination, while also ensuring they do not pose a risk to the local population,” Ribera said.
But she added: “Our idea is that we focus on safe origins and destinations, rather than thinking about the month of July or June.”
It suggests that those wanting to enter Spain may have to come from a country with a similar or lower incidence of coronavirus – as hinted at by a recent European Council proposal.
That means Brits may have to wait longer than other countries before being allowed back if their COVID-19 figures are not deemed up to scratch.
In the likes of Mallorca, special arrangements are already being drawn up with Germany to bring back tourists as soon as possible.
Ribera, who is also the Ecology Minister, said the arrival of foreign tourists will ‘probably come at the end of the de-escalation process,’ warning of a resurgence in cases being imported from aboard if done too early, as has occurred in parts of China, South Korea and Singapore.
“We don’t want that for our population,” she said, “The great data from the Canary Islands, Balearics and Andalucia give us a sense of security today, but there is no movement between provinces and potentially infected people cannot enter.
“If borders are opened massively, we could be acting very irresponsibly.”
But when will the end of the de-escalation period actually be?
The end of Phase 3 and entry into the so-called ‘new normal’ – at least for some of the country – would arrive on June 21.
For three islands in the Canaries and Formentera, that date will arrive on June 7 while in the likes of Malaga and Granada, it would be on June 28.
But Ribera said today that the de-escalation plan must be carried out alongside the state of alarm. This she said, is essential for the government to have the special powers to limit movement between regions which are in different phases of de-escalation.
Currently, the state of alarm is set to end on June 7 after the Government received permission to extend it by another two weeks from the Congress of Deputies on Wednesday.
It suggests the government is banking on securing a sixth extension to the state alarm to see out its four-phase de-escalation plan – something that might prove a struggle. Ribera believes the government has enough support to see it through. When asked if the de-escalation would continue if the state of alarm could not be extended, she said it was ‘not necessary to imagine scenarios which have not happened.’
Regardless, it means the government is hoping to have the state of alarm in place until June 28.
That means that the quarantine on international travellers, which is in place ‘until the state of alarm ends’, would make a holiday for Brits and foreigners practically inconceivable before that date, given that they would have to self-isolate in their accommodation for two weeks.
So if the Government gets its way, international tourists will not arrive until July.
Of course everything is subject to change depending on the evolution of the virus, while regions may make special deals with foreign countries in a bid to welcome visitors sooner.
So what is certain?
Currently, the only order written in stone relating to foreign travel is the update published in the official state bulletin on May 15.
That dictates that foreign travellers cannot enter Spain – with exceptions – until after June 15.
If the government cannot extend the state of alarm past June 7, then, in theory, foreign tourists could begin to arrive after June 15.
But with such uncertainty and with the Government wanting to extend the state of alarm further, it would not be advisable to make travel plans before July.