As Spain enters the final phase of lifting its lockdown, the country is testing reopening part of its tourism sector before they officially reopen borders to Shengen Area tourism — referring to the border-free zone in Europe between 26 European countries — later this month. Spain and Germany have teamed up to test a one-week pilot program that’ll allow around 10,900 German tourists to visit Spain’s Balearic Islands of Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera.
Germany was chosen for the tourism test due to its epidemiological similarity with regards to COVID-19 to the islands (although Germany has a fairly low level of testing capability, even when compared to Spain). The program is called the “Safe Corridor” scheme and aims to analyze the risks of opening up the tourism sector and Spain’s ability to deal with an outbreak if it does occur.
The trips from Germany to Spain sold out in 36 hours when they went on sale just last week. Germans started arriving on 47 flights yesterday, June 15th, and have to stay at least five days. The program has some guidelines that’ll allow both countries to monitor the possibility of spreading COVID-19.
According to The Guardian, the German tourists will have to “fill out a public health form, have their temperature taken on arrival at the airport, and give the authorities their contact details and the address of their accommodation.” The Spanish authorities will not require a COVID-19 test before travel or observe the current, mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival to Spain. If someone falls ill, Spain has set up a special team to test for COVID and, if needed, isolate any ill person.
The Spanish government said they’re conducting this test “to see how the model for the lifting of temporary controls on internal borders and the return to freedom of movement is working.” The idea is to run a test before they officially reopen to international travel in July, allowing the authorities to figure out what they can handle in real-life and not just on paper.
Spain gets 12 percent of its GDP from the tourism sector alone. That can easily be dismissed as just a number, but in reality, that number has a massive effect on people who run everything from restaurants to hotels to tours to farms (and so much more) around the country. When you isolate the Balearic Islands, that number jumps to 35 percent.
Spain’s Canary Islands are planning on running a similar program in the second half of June that’ll see another 10,000 Germans arrive for a one-week holiday. This will serve as a similar test — to better judge the viability of actually reopening Spain’s international borders in July.
(Via The Guardian)