Travel warnings and quarantines
France, Germany, Belgium, the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, Norway, Austria and Finland have issued travel warnings for its citizens to not visit parts of Spain where major coronavirus outbreaks are located, in some cases imposing quarantine or obligatory testing for its nationals returning from Spain.
In the UK’s case, a blanket 14-day quarantine for British tourists returning home from any of Spain’s regions was introduced on Saturday July 25th, and travel to all parts of the Iberian nation has been discouraged.
Find out more here.
Infection rate on the rise but still big regional disparities
As of July 30th, Spain is the second country in Europe with the highest 14-day infection rate – 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants – only second to Romania which has 69.4 per 100,000.
But a closer look at the ECDC’s stats reveal that there are big differences between regions.
In Aragón (354 per 100,000), Catalonia (137) and Navarre (144) it’s very high.
But in the Canary Islands the infection rate is 6.7 per 100,000, in Andalusia it’s 14 per 100,000 and in the Balearics it’s 12.96 per 100,000.
Spain’s badly-hit tourism industry was hoping it could ‘save the summer season’ by July or at least August, but news of the ongoing travel restrictions from European nations that supply the bulk of their tourists and revenue has led many hoteliers to consider closing their doors or not opening as planned.
A recent study found that hotel cancellations outweighed bookings at hotels in Spain, with 64 percent of reservations cancelled by tourists who have changed their minds about holidaying in the country. But that’s not say all hotels are closed.
Restrictions on nightlife
The reopening of bars and in particular nightclubs in Spain has been pinpointed by the Spanish Health Ministry as one of the chief reasons for the spike in cases since the state of alarm ended on June 21st.
Almost all regions have now reimposed restrictions on the capacity and opening hours of nightclubs – and in many cases such as Madrid, the Balearics and Catalonia forced them to close all together- meaning that tourists looking to party will have to make do with having beers outdoors in a bar terrace.
Heat and face masks
Summers in Spain are always hot but the compulsory use of face masks in all indoor and outdoor public spaces across the country (with a slight exception for the Canary Islands) will mean it can get hard to breathe when the mercury rises.
At the same time, it will be reassuring for many foreign visitors to know that Spaniards are on average more diligent with face mask usage than their European counterparts.
With more Spaniards taking their holidays in Spain than ever, millions of them are flocking to the country’s beaches as temperatures rise, which has led police to have to close off access to many “playas” once their maximum capacity has been reached.
This is taking place in particular over the weekend when people aren’t working, so to avoid disappointment the best advice is to head to the beach early in the morning or on a weekday. By contrast, some beaches at holiday hotspots popular with foreigners are reported to be relatively empty.
Potential flight changes and cancellations
Even if tourists are flying to parts of Spain where the infection rate is low, airlines are keeping a close eye on European governments’ travel restrictions for Spain to ascertain whether keeping flights running is viable for them after months of huge losses.
This has at least been the case with Europe’s largest tour operator TUI and low-cost airline Jet2, who following the UK’s abrupt 14-day quarantine announcement for British tourists returning from Spain, cancelled all their scheduled flights until mid-August.
Spain is still Spain
Although the quickly changing situation and some of the setbacks mentioned above are enough to make anyone have second thoughts about going on holiday to Spain right now, the country still offers plenty of what made it the second most visited nation in the world after France in 2019.
Friendly people, great weather, loads of coastline, varied culture, delicious food, good prices, to name a few of its top attractions.
It remains a personal decision for many tourists whether these pull factors and the need for a summer break outweigh the possible setbacks that may arise, but Spain is and always will be a fantastic country.