MADRID (Reuters) – Spain is working on plans to gradually open its borders to tourists from countries deemed more secure in the fight against the coronavirus, possibly starting from June 22, the tourism ministry said on Wednesday.
After losing more than 27,000 people and months of economic activity to the epidemic, Spain had previously designated July 1 as the date to reopen to foreign tourism, which accounts for 12% of its output.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s government is due to lift a state of emergency on June 21, meaning that Spaniards will be able to start to move more freely again as the epeidemic recedes.
A tourism ministry spokesman said it was likely the same would start to apply to some foreigners on Monday June 22 or possibly as early as Sunday June 21.
“We want to reactivate and accelerate international mobility but starting with areas in similar epidemiological situations,” said the spokesman, whose ministry is also responsible for trade and industry.
Separately, Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya said Germany would lift a recommendation to avoid travelling to Spain as soon as Spain lifts restrictions on visitors from abroad.
Officials have said Spain is keen for travel protocols to be agreed on at the European level.
The Balearic archipelago around the island of Ibiza and the Canary Islands off the northwest coast of Africa are the most advanced in their preparations to be offered as a safe destination, the tourism ministry spokesman said.
Spain has spoken to airlines and tour operators, primarily in Germany, which has reported many fewer deaths from the pandemic than those seen in smaller countries including Spain and Italy, he said.
Spain has also discussed with Britain’s Jet2 how to re-start business, but is limited by the situation in Britain, where the COVID-19 death toll has passed 49,000, including suspected cases, according to a Reuters tally.
(Reporting by Isla Binnie and Inti Landauro, editing by Andrei Khalip and Angus MacSwan)