SPAIN is set to lift its ban on free movement this weekend in what will likely cause a surge in domestic tourism.
The country’s restriction on travel between provinces and regions was first announced on March 14.
But that will cease to be in effect when the state of alarm comes to an end at 00.00 on June 21.
It means from midnight on Saturday night, Spain will officially have entered the so-called ‘new normal’, bringing with it the freedom to travel across the country.
No regional government will have the authority to deny entry to their territories to any citizen or habitual resident.
They equally will not have the authority to deny anyone permission to leave a territory or region, no matter how high the incidence rate of COVID-19.
It means people could travel to and from higher risk areas such as parts of Madrid or Catalunya – despite them both currently going through Phase 2 of the de-escalation plan.
It comes after 33% of Spaniards said in a survey last month that they would travel to Andalucia for a holiday as soon as they were permitted to do so.
The survey asked a series of questions, asking the respondents to imagine ‘the state of alarm has already been lifted and there are no restrictions on travelling (inside and outside Spain)’ and that ‘the pandemic is ongoing and remains dormant.’
In such a scenario, 80% of people said they would travel as soon as they were allowed to, with 77.5% opting to travel within Spain.
Some 33% of those chose Andalucia as their preferred destination, followed by the Balearic Islands (9.7%) and Valencia (9.3%).
It means potentially millions of domestic travellers will be itching to head south when the restrictions are lifted this Sunday.
This could raise fears of a second outbreak, with the Costa del Sol and Benidorm hugely popular with Spaniards from Madrid and central Spain, where there are still higher numbers of COVID-19.
At the start of the pandemic, hordes of families came from Madrid to the Costa del Sol and other parts of Andalucia and are believed to have contributed to the southernmost region’s coronavirus incidence.
In March, one Madrid man disobeyed orders to not travel when he took a train to his second home in Murcia, despite having COVID-19 symptoms.
However the regional governments have said they are prepared to welcome tourists, with beaches installing strict guidelines and protocols.
These include much fewer sun loungers, social distancing, mask use and, at least in Andalucia, beach patrols to ensure guidelines are followed.