Britons heading to the Canary Islands are set to benefit from a major rule change which will come into practice tomorrow. Currently, mainland Spain is requiring all Britons to take a full PCR test within 72 hours of travel.
However, the Canary Island government argues that PCR tests are more expensive, take longer to provide results and are less accessible to the majority of people.
In a bid to ensure more people can access testing, as of December 10, the regional government in the Canary Islands will allow Britons to provide alternative tests in order to enter the country.
While PCR tests will still be accepted, British tourists will also be allowed to enter by offering a rapid antigen test which is reportedly a fraction of the price of PCRs.
The Canary Islands government is insisting it has the authority to make its own rules over who and how people are admitted to the islands and does not intend to enter into a head-on clash with the Spanish executive.
Tourism leaders have been voicing their concerns over making people pay up to £100 for a PCR as for a family of four, this would have added £400 to the cost of their holiday.
The objections in the Canaries were very strong, with hoteliers claiming the rule was putting a brake on the revival of the islands whose traditional winter season begins on December 1.
A statement issued by the Canary government today confirmed: “This decree is based on the powers derived from the State of Alarm – whose delegated competent authority is the regional president – in the condition of Ultraperipheral Region (RUP) that the Canary Islands have within the European Union; the Statute of Autonomy; the indications of the Public Health and microbiology technicians; and the accumulated experience with the tourist law decree that establishes the obligation to present a certificate of antigen test or PCR with a negative result in regulated accommodation establishments in the Canary Islands.
In Tenerife, an emergency curfew has been put in place between 11pm and 6am.
It is due to last until Saturday 9 December.
In addition, for the next fortnight, social gatherings have been slashed to just four rather than six on the other islands.
Canary president, Ángel Víctor Torres said they didn’t like to take drastic measures, adding: “These rules are not made against anyone but for the health of people.”
“Three weeks ago we took measures specifically for the island that served to contain the curve of the pandemic. However, with the arrival of December the situation has worsened and has rebounded,” he said.
“I ask for one more sacrifice in a very tough year because we are risking that hospitals do not collapse, that infections do not increase and that we do not have to take much more drastic measures. We risk the present and the future.”
Despite the need for emergency measures in some regions, the Canary Islands continue to be the only place in Spain where Britons can visit without the need to go into quarantine on their return to the UK.
Additional reporting by Rita Sobot.