Spain lays down plans for late June tourism opening

Spain will open up land borders with France and Portugal on 22 June and will start welcoming tourists to some islands and areas with the Covid-19 infection under control around the same time, Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto said on Thursday cited by the news wires. Spain's land frontiers have been shut to everyone but Spaniards, cross-border workers and truck drivers since mid-March, but with deaths and infections sharply down, the country is trying to gradually restore freedom of movement.

“This is very important because it will allow us to recover some tourists on land routes,” Maroto said. Spain is the world’s second most visited nation where the sector accounts for about 12% of the economy. According to the minister, arrivals by land from France and Portugal would not be put under mandatory 14-day quarantine, but added that was yet to be approved.

She also said that tour operator TUI was due to bring 6,000 Germans to visit the Balearic archipelago around the island of Mallorca. This and another scheme in the Canary islands off the northwest of Africa were expected to take place during the second half of June, before borders fully open on 1 July. The two island regions are “in a good position from the point of view of controlling the pandemic” Maroto pointed out.

These early visitors’ temperatures will be tested, and they will be asked to fill in a questionnaire about their health and where they will stay for tracking, the minister said. They will also use a contact-tracing mobile telephone app. France has previously said it favours Europe opening internal borders from 15 June, while Portugal assumed its border with Spain would be shut until the end of the month.

But Portugal’s Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva declared on Thursday he was “surprised” that Spain announced the reopening of its border with Portugal on 22 June, and that he would seek clarification from the Spanish government. “It is naturally Portugal who decides about the opening of the Portuguese border,” he told news agency Lusa, stating that the announcement did not conform to the usual “close cooperation” between the two governments on the shared border.

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