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And yesterday easyJet had its first UK flight for weeks as it begins ramping up routes. Spain announced it will reopen its borders to most European visitors from June 21, the only exception being the border with Portugal, which reopens on July 1. Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez brought forward the resumption of the tourist season by 10 days, saying that “the recovery of tourist activity is key for this government”.
The embassy account @ BritslivinginSpain tweeted: “The Spanish government has confirmed to us that the UK is included within the group of countries to whom these border relaxations will apply. The UK government continues to advise British nationals against all but essential international travel.”
Yesterday saw a number of European countries reopen borders – including Germany and France – after three months of lockdown.
While Britons can now enter Germany with no restrictions, France has imposed a 14-day quarantine in a tit-for-tat move because of our rules.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office continues to advise against all but non-essential international travel, which will invalidate most travel insurance policies if ignored.
People flying back to the UK from any country will be subject to a 14-day quarantine upon return.
But it appears Britons are keen to get back to Spain, with travel agents reporting it as among their top holiday destinations for both this year and 2021.
Online booking site Opodo reported that, based on all bookings made last month, two of its top five destinations were in Spain.
Alicante and Malaga were popular choices, as well as Lisbon in Portugal.
Bookings to Bucharest, Romania, and Bangkok, Thailand, were also made for dates between this June and next March.
Meanwhile, online travel agent Travel Republic said bookings to Ibiza for next year had seen a 184 percent rise.
Bookings to Corfu in Greece were up by 70 percent and the Costa Brava, in northeastern Spain, was up 30 percent.
The Balaeric island of Mallorca also saw a 21 percent year-on-year rise, and bookings to Benidorm were up 20 percent.
Some British expats already in Spain were pictured enjoying Benidorm’s beaches for the first time in three months today as they re-opened with designated areas for the over-70s.
The new rules also include a cap on visitors and a reservation system which will be rolled out further into the summer season.
The capacity of the main beaches has been cut from 40,000 people a day to 25,000 in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
The resort’s Levante and Poniente beaches have been divided into 20 sectors, with plots which can be occupied by one to four people – or five if one of them is under six.
Meanwhile, 10,900 German tourists have been encouraged to fly via a “safe travel corridor” to the Balearic Islands in a project to test if tourists will import a second wave of coronavirus.
The first German travellers, all wearing face masks, landed in Mallorca from Dusseldorf yesterday afternoon after filling out a health questionnaire in Germany.
On arrival they queued at a distance from each other to have their temperatures read and paperwork checked by Spanish border staff also wearing masks.
One German traveller, Russi Batliwala, who has a holiday home in Mallorca, said that he felt sorry for British tourists having to wait for their day in the sun.
He said: “They got another two or three weeks yet. They come up with a new version of homesick. Homesick used to be you wanted to go home and now they are sick of being at home.”
The president of the Balearic Islands, Francina Armengol, said: “We will be the first region in Spain to open to international tourism under safe conditions.”
He added the Germans had been chosen because of their low death rate during the pandemic and as it is where most of Spain’s tourists come from.
Germany has seen fewer than 9,000 coronavirus-related deaths – far lower than Britain, Spain, Italy or France – despite having the largest population in Europe and nine borders.
Yesterday budget airline easyJet flew for the first time in almost three months in UK skies – with a Gatwick to Glasgow trip.
Boss Johan Lundgren says his 344-strong fleet has every measure in place to protect flyers from the risk of coronavirus infection – from the hospital-grade air filter system which cuts out 99.97 percent of airborne germs to guidance about regular handwashing.
He said: “I hope we will all get a summer holiday this year – I’m very excited about this first phase.”
EasyJet’s initial schedule involves mainly domestic travel and flights to France.
But it plans to reopen half of its 1,022 routes by the end of next month, increasing to 75 percent of its routes by August although there will be fewer flights.
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