Spain proposes EU-wide coronavirus ‘green zones’ in bid to save summer tourism

The Spanish government has proposed an EU-wide plan to open up travel corridors between “green zones” where the coronavirus is under control in a bid to kickstart tourism ahead of the summer holidays.

Spain proposes  EU-wide coronavirus 'green zones' in bid to save summer tourism
Photo: AFP

Spain’s Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto announced the proposal at a press conference following a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, saying the idea had already had already been made to the European Commission.

The plan would see travel opened up between “green zones” – those areas where the epidemic is deemed to be under control – rather than between countries as a whole which would mean tourism could be resumed sooner.

Locals enjoy the beach in Palma on the Balearic Island of Mallorca. Photo: AFP

“The border controls and the restrictions on travel would have to be lifted in areas that have an epidemiological situation that is evolving positively,”Morato stated.

So in theory it could allow people to travel freely from one green zone to another such as between areas of Germany where the virus is under control and Mallorca, where many Germans have holiday homes.

READ ALSO: Tensions rise as Germans eager to return to holiday homes in Spain

The plan appears to follows a policy proposal made by Madrid’s ESADE business school earlier this month.  “The idea is simple: allowing the mobility of people between “green zones” of different European countries through a network of regions certified by European institutions,” the study reads.

Example of what green zoning could look like in an image from the Esade study. 

To qualify for the green label a region would have to prove that the virus is under control using the same system of criteria that Spain already has in place in order for regions to advance through the four phase de-escalation plan.

If such a plan is adopted it could see tourism open up in some places even before July 1st, the date when quarantine will be lifted for international visitors.

Those provinces in Spain that have the virus under control – including the popular holiday destinations of the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands – have already advanced to Phase 2 and should have passed Phase 3 and reached the “new normal” by mid June.  

Sources from the Spanish government told El Pais that it is working on the plan to allow arrivals from safe places before July 1st. “If there are areas that can earlier, it doesn’t make sense to wait and lose a whole week,” said these sources.

It was unclear whether the “green zone” plan would be in place throughout the summer and would see restrictions placed on those travelling in from areas that were still considered hotspots and fell in the “red zones”.

Spain had already announced that if all continues to progress well on containment of the virus within Spain, then quarantine requirements will be lifted from July 1st.

The Prime Minister said on Saturday that he hoped Spain would be welcoming international tourists again from July.

“We're sending everyone a message today: Spain will be waiting for you from July,” Sanchez said. 


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US to end Covid testing requirement for travellers from Europe

Authorities in the USA have announced the end of the Covid-testing requirement for arrivals from Europe, meaning that fully vaccinated people will soon be able to travel between Europe and the US without needing pre-travel tests.

US to end Covid testing requirement for travellers from Europe

Most of Europe had dropped the testing requirement for fully-vaccinated arrivals in the spring, but the US has maintained the requirement to show proof of a negative test for all arrivals.

However on Friday, the Biden administration announced that it would not renew the testing requirement.

The new rule is expected to come into effect at 12.01 Sunday EDT, until then passengers will still need to show a negative Covid test before they can board a plane to the US.

The US currently bars unvaccinated travellers from entry – although this does not apply to US citizens, US residents or those travelling for essential reasons – there was no announcement on lifting this restriction. 

The CDC said that testing requirements could be reinstated if new variants of Covid emerge, and added that it continues to recommend pre-travel testing. 

Covid travel rules vary between individual countries in Europe, but most countries now only require pre-departure tests for unvaccinated travellers. Check the rules of the country you are travelling to for full details. 

To be counted as ‘fully vaccinated’ travellers must have received both doses of an EMA-approved vaccine – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca (or a single dose of Janssen).

If their vaccination was more than nine months ago, they need a booster shot in order to be considered fully vaccinated – people who have had a booster do not need a second, even if their booster shot was more than nine months ago.