THE Balearic and Canary Islands will STAY on the UK’s quarantine list – despite a Spanish minister insisting they are safe for tourists.
A Downing Street spokesperson dashed hopes this afternoon that the tourist paradises could reopen for Brits after thousands of tourists were forced to cancel summer holidays.
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Currently, Brits face a 14-day quarantine when returning to the UK after a last-minute u-turn on travelling to Spain.
Despite pressure from Spanish tourism bosses and politicians, a No10 spokesperson said this lunchtime they were “not aware of any changes” to the travel quarantine that would happen regionally.
They added: “There were some challenges in trying to look at this on a regionalised basis. We have made the decision based on looking closely at the data.”
It comes as a Spanish minister told local media this morning that they had sent new statistics to No10 to prove that infection rates were low enough on the islands to justify changing quarantine rules.
Speaking to La Sexta television, the country’s tourism minister Reyes Maroto said: “(The islands) have a low incidence rate and today they have to review their indicators.
“It is a decision of the British authorities, but we have given them all the arguments so that they can trust that their tourists are safe in Spanish destinations.
“If it is not the decision we expect, we will continue working with them.”
President of the Canaries, Ángel Víctor Torres has said that he is confident Boris Johnson will wipe out the rule for the Canary islands in the upcoming days.
This decision, he said, was the absolute priority for the Canary government and he knew Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez had already held talks with Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Spain currently has an average of 60 coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants – one of the highest infection rates in Western Europe.
Badly hit regions include Navarra, Aragon, and Catalonia which have recorded more than 120 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over a two week period.
However, the Balearic and Canary Islands have seen much lower infection rates than the mainland.
Mr Torres said the Canaries wanted to be removed from the quarantine list and he understood there would be a “legislative” amendment in the UK this week to allow this.
He said the Canary Islands had one of the best records for low coronavirus cases and deaths and had detected the most contacts in its tracking system, as confirmed by the report of the National Network of Epidemiological Surveillance of July 15.
He confirmed he expected an announcement this week, with some Spanish newspapers now saying it could be as early as today.
“The government of the Canaries is confident that the negotiations with the United Kingdom will bear fruit and that this week the quarantine for travellers returning from the Islands can be lifted,” said Mr Torres.
The tourism minister Ms Maroto has also told The Telegraph that the country is “not considering” a reciprocal 14-day quarantine for British tourists, as they were learning to “co-exist” with the virus instead.
The Canary government is also calling for a new European tax to help pay for holidaymakers to take coronavirus tests before they leave and on their arrival in all airports, including Spain, as a temporary measure until a vaccine was found.
Calling on the European Aviation Safety Agency to introduce the new fee, Mr Torres said it “wouldn’t be an easy decision” but there were already other countries doing this and it should become the norm across Europe.
He has asked Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez to raise the idea with the Agency so that tests could be put into place in all European airports.
How the tax would be collected has not been specified. It could fall on the airlines or passed by them onto the traveller via ticket prices.
The Canary Islands, Mr Torres stressed, considered it essential to implement these tests for passengers to guarantee health safety whilst travelling and thus encourage the tourist market.
“These tests on passengers, which could be paid for with this European tax, would help keep the situation under control until there is an effective vaccine against the virus,” said the Canary president.
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