The Spanish government has specified that Spain will not open to international visitors before July 1, reversing the announcement by Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto on Thursday that restrictions on border crossings with Portugal and France will be lifted at from June 22.
“In the case of France and Portugal, I want to confirm that the restrictions on land borders will be lifted from June 22,” Maroto said at a press conference to foreign correspondents.
The government plans to open tourism to certain regions in the second half of June
However, two hours later, the central government issued a press release stating that “safe international movements will take place from July 1,” as Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez previously announced.
Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva said he was “surprised” by Maroto’s unilateral announcement of the reopening of the land border, Reuters reported.
Spanish authorities closed borders to everyone except Spanish, border workers and truck drivers from mid-March when the country was locked out to curb the epidemic of coronavirus.
The date of June 22 coincided with the end of the state of alarm in Spain, which was extended Wednesday by the Congress of Deputies for the sixth and last time. Maroto confirmed that upon completion of the extraordinary measure, “these [travel] restrictions will be lifted and movements between these important countries will be recovered. “
Maroto told reporters that Spain will likely lift the 14-day quarantine for people arriving by land from France and Portugal on that date, but added that it has not yet been approved.
“Today I cannot give you this certainty […] but if the conditions are in place to remove quarantines before July 1, we will do it, “she said.
The Minister explained that the decision to lift the quarantine measures would be taken on the principle of reciprocity and depending on the rate of contagion in the respective countries. The Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been a staunch defender of quarantine, which mainly affected Spaniards returning from abroad.
Indeed, Maroto’s statements contrast with those of Minister of Foreign Affairs Arancha González Laya, who argued that homogeneous, transparent and non-discriminatory criteria must be applied to restore freedom of movement. The government previously advocated opening the borders of all Schengen countries to other European countries, including the United Kingdom. The executive, however, has considered making exceptions to this rule based on a country’s coronavirus rate.
The Spanish government initially said it would not start lifting border restrictions until July 1. But last week, Maroto proposed to open travel lanes between different regions and regions of European Union countries with a similar level of control over the coronavirus. epidemic.
Maroto provided more details on this plan Thursday, explaining that they were working on tourism experimentation in certain regions in the second half of June, and that the tour operator TUI was to bring 6000 German tourists to visit the Balearic archipelago around the island of Mallorca.
France has already declared itself in favor of Europe opening its internal borders from June 15.
Portugal officially closed the border until June 15, but the government had previously said it assumed it would remain closed until the end of the month due to Spain’s own restrictions.
The Spanish tourism industry, which accounts for more than 12% of Spain’s gross domestic product (GDP), has been devastated by the coronavirus crisis. Not a single hotel was open in April, and no international visitors showed up, resulting in no tourism spending, according to the National Statistics Institute (INE). Although there has been a slight increase in hotel bookings for the summer, industry spokespersons say it will not be enough to save the season.
With information from Reuters, Europa Press and AFP.
English version by Melissa Kitson.