SPAIN is trying to win back British holidaymakers by seeking EU backing for a coronavirus count that could improve its chances of securing ‘safe’ air bridges with countries like the UK.
Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya is lobbying Brussels for support for a system focusing on each region’s Covid-19 contagion, and other breakdown data like the number of hospitalisations and intensive care admissions.
Spanish government spokesman Maria Jesus Montero revealed the campaign at a press conference following a Cabinet meeting.
She went public with Madrid’s attempts to launch a new push to promote air bridges that could lead to regions with a lower rate of Covid-19 contagion being given the green light by London and other northern European capitals.
The move is being seen as a last-ditch attempt to save Spanish tourism this year and allow as many hotels as possible to remain open in autumn and winter.
The Canary Islands, currently battling a second wave of coronavirus which has led to the closure of beaches and a ban on bathing in El Hierro, would be the region that could most benefit as its high season runs from November to March.
Health chiefs in the islands announced 219 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, the lowest figure since August 24 after a string of record rises.
Gran Canaria, with 3,058 active cases of Covid-19 which is 69 per cent of the total, is the worst affected island.
Canary Islands’ president Angel Victor Torres said yesterday he was confident of being able to reverse the current health situation this month with a view to saving the winter season.
He told a radio interviewer: “The Canary Islands has great possibilities but we have some key weeks in September to reverse the situation.”
He added: “The tourism results in the last part of the year will be closely linked to the situation in the islands, but it will also depend on whether people want to leave their countries and travel, and the key to that will be how other countries deal with the Covid-19 crisis.”
Officials in the Balearic Islands yesterday confirmed the deaths of five people with coronavirus, the highest death rate since the start of the region’s second coronavirus wave.
But the rise in the number of new cases recorded for the previous 24 hours dropped to 174, giving health chiefs there hope the peak had been reached.
Figures laid bare by local paper Diario de Mallorca showed just how bad the second wave had been, highlighting the fact that the 2,470 new Covid-19 cases in the last week of August in the Balearic Islands had nearly matched the 2,612 cases registered in the six month to the start of August.
The paper said, referring to the UK’s decision in July to make British holidaymakers returning from islands like Majorca and Ibiza self-isolate: “The region has equalled in a single week the number of positives registered in the first six months of the coronavirus crisis.
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“That figure alone justifies the radical reaction of the UK and Germany to effectively ban tourism to Majorca.”
The Spanish government has said it is continuing to talk to countries like Britain to persuade them to overturn their quarantine rules for areas less affected by Covid-19.
Respected news website Mallorcadiario.com said: “The objective is to avoid situations like those that occurred in July when the UK imposed quarantine on its holidaymakers irrespective of the place they had come from and without taking into account the individual situations of the island territories.”