The battle for the destinations of this year’s vacationers moves to the heart of Europe. One day after the United Kingdom kept practically the entire EU – with the exceptions of the Balearic Islands and Malta – on its list of countries to which it advises against traveling, Union leaders discussed at their Brussels summit how to deal with the new threat of the delta strain of covid-19, much more contagious than those known so far and already predominant in the British Isles. While Germany leads the camp of those who defend imposing quarantines on Britons who step on EU soil, Spain has been against this initiative, which could further damage its already very deteriorated tourism sector.
“The Spanish Government is not in favor of drastic measures such as quarantines, but rather consensual decisions that allow as wide a mobility as possible as long as sanitary security measures are ensured,” say sources from the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism. The situation is getting complicated at times. While London carefully chooses the countries to which it does not want its citizens to travel to avoid catching the coronavirus, a growing number of countries ask that it be not the citizens of the United Kingdom who do not travel to their territory for the same reason.
“In Germany, people coming from Great Britain have to be quarantined. That, which does not happen in all the countries of the European Union, is what I would like to see, ”Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday. Berlin is not alone. Countries like France support this idea. But Spain, for whose government the return of tourists is one of its top economic priorities, rejects it outright.
Despite the importance of a market that in 2019, the last normal year before the coronavirus earthquake, sent 18 million tourists to Spain, 21% of all foreign visitors, the Government is aware of the risk that a disorderly arrival would pose. British. But in the ministry headed by Reyes Maroto, they call for caution. In the first place, because the citizens of the United Kingdom for now will only be able to travel freely to the Balearic Islands, so their number will not be too large. And second, because until five in the afternoon on Wednesday June 30, when the inclusion of the archipelago in the blue list British, there are still a few days to prepare a device and establish the necessary health security measures to prevent a new outbreak of the pandemic. Tourism prepares the health system in coordination with the Ministries of Health and the Interior.
In this sense, the Balearic president, Francina Armengol, has expressed herself, demanding evidence of covid-19 in origin from the British who visit the islands, as well as “strict and safe entry controls” in the Balearic ports and airports. The incidence of covid in the Balearic Islands this Friday exceeded 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in 14 days, but even so it is among the lowest in Spain. “It is necessary for the State to protect the good health situation of the Balearic Islands,” Armengol wrote on his Twitter account. And for this, Foreign Health, dependent on the Ministry of Health, must ensure “compliance with health restrictions in ports and airports.” Minister Maroto had already recognized on Thursday the difficult situation facing the United Kingdom, with an increase in the cumulative incidence and great concern around the delta variant (coming from India).
200,000 more seats on Ryanair to the Balearic Islands
The increased concern around the spread of new variants of the virus does not prevent airlines from preparing for the tighter restrictions. Ryanair announced this Thursday that it is expanding its offer of flights from the United Kingdom to Palma and Ibiza, as well as Malta, by 200,000 seats in July, August and September, according to the Europa Press agency. This decision comes 24 hours after the British announcement to include the Balearic Islands and Malta on its list of safe destinations.
The Irish airline has also asked the British Transport Minister, Grant Shapps, to add “immediately” to that list the Canary Islands, Cyprus and the Greek islands due to the great similarity in the contagion rates between these territories and those to which that London has given them the green light.