BRITS travelling to the Canary Islands may have to take a coronavirus test 72 hours before they leave their own country – or upon arrival, tourism chiefs have warned.
New enforcements will see holidaymakers, who test positive for the virus, risk being sent back home to the UK or put into quarantine for two weeks.
Spanish regions are currently clashing over their views on health requirements once the country officially “reopens for business” in the words of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on July 1.
Some, like the Canary Islands, say a coronavirus test at source is imperative but others, like the Balearics, are taking a different view, even though both have had a very low incidence of coronavirus deaths and infections.
On Monday and Tuesday, the first of 10,900 Germans will start to arrive in Mallorca and Ibiza to “test drive” coronavirus protocols from the airports through to the hotels and restaurants but they will not be required to take a test.
Instead, temperatures will be taken on arrival and they will have to fill in detailed health questionnaires and remain in contact with the authorities in case they develop symptoms or have been in contact with someone who tests positive.
The Canary Islands have recorded 161 deaths and 2,379 positives and today recorded no deaths and no new infections and wants to be known as one of the safest venues.
The regional government says no chances will be taken with people’s health, either holidaymakers or locals, as this is considered to be one of the most important considerations in choosing a destination.
The Canaries have yet to decide whether to go with most other parts of Spain and end the State of Emergency on June 21 as allowed by the central government.
Regions have been given their own powers to dictate local circumstances.
Spokesman for the regional government, Julio Pérez said the governing council has had a “prolonged debate” on “how to establish health controls at ports and airports” for foreigners.
This will eventually include millions of Brits once they are allowed back into Spain as the UK is the biggest market for the Canaries, especially Tenerife.
The islands have already indicated that they will not hurry matters, despite multi-million pound losses for the industry, as one mistake could be even more costly.
The Canaries also have time on their side as unlike many other Spanish holiday destinations, the most popular season is not the summer but between October and May due to the very good climate during these months.
When many resorts are ending their busiest season, the Canaries are just beginning.
The regional executive would prefer that tourists come from home with the test done and negative but if they did not, they plan to do so when they arrive in the Canary Islands.
The ideal situation, said Mr. Perez, is that they arrive with a test at origin made in the 72 hours prior to the trip.
Any positive tourist would have to quarantine on the islands or return to their country.
Mr. Pérez said that this Thursday, thermographic cameras have been installed in four airports in the Canary Islands and that it remains to be determined “how it works, how the controls are carried out and who does them.”
The hotel trade in the Canaries backs coronavirus testing although who would pay has yet to be decided and it could prove a costly exercise.
Flights to Spain are likely going to cost more than usual as airlines will be forced to pay for tourists’ coronavirus tests.
Spain’s airport authority AENA is going to pass on the multi-million pound costs of all coronavirus checks and new systems, raising fears of even higher air fares and more collapses.