SPAIN may open up to tourism step-by-step and on a regional level depending on how well an area is coping with COVID-19, it has been revealed.
The Government has not ruled out the possibility of an ‘asymmetric’ opening of borders, given that some autonomous communities and provinces are much farther ahead than others in the nationwide de-escalation plan.
Valencia, for example, is in Phase 1, while much of Andalucia is in Phase 2 and parts of the Canary Islands are hoping to enter Phase 3 from Monday.
“We do not exclude the possibility that such an opening may be made asymmetrically, just as the de-escalation is asymmetrical,” said Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya in an interview on RNE.
He added that the most important task right now is to establish the criteria that will allow for a province or region to open to tourists, both nationally and internationally.
This, he said, is something being drawn up by the government and with other European countries.
“I could imagine an asymmetric opening of mobility within the Schengen area, but what is important is the criteria,” he said.
Laya said the European Commission has recommended limiting the opening of borders to a regional level, rather than provincial.
It means it is unlikely that Sevilla province would open up tourists before Malaga.
The former is currently one phase ahead in the de-escalation plan, meaning it will arrive to the ‘new normal’ first.
However it could mean that regions such as Andalucia and Valencia will open to tourists at different times, given that the latter is a phase behind much of the former.
“What is most important is to define under what conditions tourism is considered safe,” added Laya.
He said these must be agreed at the EU level and not unilaterally, to avoid ‘fragmentation’ and ‘discrimination’ between nation states.
But his comments risk adding confusion over when tourists can arrive to Spain given that the prime minister has already told international travellers to begin planning their holidays from July onward.
The Government has also announced it will be lifting the quarantine on international arrivals from the same date.