MAJORCA, Ibiza and the Canary Islands have bid to be excluded from the 14-day quarantine the UK imposed on returning Brits from Spain.
Canary Islands president Angel Victor Torres has asked the Spanish government to try to negotiate ‘safe’ air corridors with the UK.
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Mr Torres is said to have asked Spain’s Tourism Minister Maria Reyes Maroto and Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya to lead the air corridor negotiations with Britain.
The Spanish government has reacted to the shock UK quarantine, announced late last night, by insisting its coronavirus outbreaks are “under control.”
A Spanish Foreign Office source quoted in El Mundo said: “The Spanish government considers the situation is under control.
“The outbreaks have been localised, isolated and brought under control.”
Balearic Islands’ government chiefs said overnight they were pinning their hopes on establishing ‘safe air corridors’ with the UK to save their summer season and the holiday hopes of thousands of Brits.
They confirmed they were working with the Spanish and UK governments to set up the scheme for islands like Majorca and Ibiza.
The announcement came after the Foreign Office ordered British tourists returning from Spain to self-isolate from midnight last night with just five hours notice.
After a spike in coronavirus cases in Spain, holidaymakers in the country – including island hotspots like Majorca and Ibiza – will now be forced to quarantine for two weeks upon returning home to the UK.
The Foreign Office has also warned against “all but essential travel” to mainland Spain – though this advice does not cover the Canary Islands or Balearic Islands.
The decision was described as a “hammer blow” by hotel bosses in Benidorm, although the town’s mayor Toni Perez insisted he would still encourage holidaymakers to come because it was a “safe” destination.
The Balearic Islands’ government said in a statement late last night after learning the region was not on the Foreign Office ‘black list’: “Great Britain has excluded the Balearic Islands from its recommendation to its citizens not to travel to Spain, something which means that travel insurance is still valid.
“The Balearic Islands’ government has been working over the last few hours to establish the basis for a safe air corridor with the UK, following the British government’s quarantine imposition for all holidaymakers returning from Spain.
“The British government’s decision has caused great concern in the Balearic Islands’ government, given that it will cause serious problems to tourist activity in our islands.
“One of the main arguments justifying the creation of a safe air corridor between the islands and the UK is the health situation here.
“The islands have had eight confirmed Covid-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the past fortnight, whereas in the UK the figure is 14,1 and in Spain as a whole, 37,9.”
Benidorm mayor Toni Perez reacted to the UK quarantine decision by admitting: “We very much regret it. In Benidorm we’ve worked a lot to minimise the risks and we haven’t got any problems here at the moment.
“It’s a very safe destination with beaches which are very well organised and businesses which have established protocols and are applying them.
“The problem in Spain is in certain areas, but in the end this decision affects us all and especially resorts like ours whose main market is British.
“We are going to continue working along the lines we have been up to now, knowing that what we’ve been doing has been done well and that we offer a safe destination thanks to the hard work of everyone here.”
He added: “These questions of quarantine are something we can’t control but Benidorm will continue to welcome those who want to come here and will continue to offer visitors including foreign tourists maximum health security.”
Toni Mayor, president of the Benidorm and Costa Blanca hotel association Hosbec, described the shock UK move as a “hammer blow.”
He said: “It couldn’t have come at a worse time. It was looking pretty good from August 1.
“Bookings were up including family bookings and around 85 per cent of our hotels were going to be open and we were looking forward to having at least something of a normal summer.
“This announcement is going to bring everything crashing down.
“The British tourists who are already here have got no other option but to stay and self-isolate when they return.
“But I fear a lot of those who were going to come are now going to cancel.
“There’s got to be a question mark over how many tour operators are going to carry on operating as planned.
“It’s not just places like Benidorm that’s going to suffer, other popular holiday destinations like the Canaries and Majorca are going to be hard hit too.
“The UK is 18million holidaymakers every year and the British are Spain’s number one holiday market.”
He added: “There were hotels in Benidorm which were going to open on August 1 with the increased number of British arrivals that will end up staying closed now, and others that had opened but could shut following this announcement.
“There’s bound to be question marks now about whether the Spanish government should have allowed discos and pubs to open so quickly.
“But the reality here is this pandemic has been a learning experience for all of us.
“It’s a very complicated situation. I think we can wave goodbye to any hopes of a normal summer now with this announcement.
“I’m obviously very concerned about the outlook for the future.”