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Free holidays in Ibiza offered to healthcare heroes across Europe

A new charity initiative is offering free holidays to European healthcare workers and their families as thanks for their hard work and sacrifice during the COVID-19 crisis.

Free holidays in Ibiza offered to healthcare heroes across Europe
Photos: AFP

The Ibiza based charity, Together for Healthcare Heroes, is offering 10,000 free holidays for heroic healthcare workers in Ibiza and destinations across Europe. The initiative is supported by the city councils of Ibiza and hotel groups such as 7Pines Kempinski, Aguas de Ibiza, OD Hotels, Destino and Concept Group are already participating by donating rooms for the scheme.

The initiative will offer free week long stays in April, May or October 2021 “for healthcare heroes out of gratitude” for their efforts during the pandemic, according to the website,and will include medical professionals from countries including Germany, the UK, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Greece, Portugal, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Ireland, Croatia and Luxembourg.

The charity is appealing for hoteliers and luxury villa owners to donate their properties to the scheme, aiming for 1000 top class accommodations across Europe, and they hope to be able to offer trips to Ibiza, Formentera, Mykonos, Greek Isles, Sardinia, Sicily, Corsica, Algarve, South of France, UK, Ireland, Scandinavia, Swiss & French Alps and cities like London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin and Zurich.

Together for Healthcare Heroes hope to raise €4 million through crowdfunding to pay for the flights and insurances of 10,000 travellers, and to be able to offer at least 5000 European Healthcare Heroes and their families a free one-week stay for a total of 10,000 guests.

Prof. Olivier Borens, part of the Advisory Board comments: “The medical profession has faced one of the hardest years in history. I am very proud to be part of this initiative that recognises this and is celebrating all those working at the frontline of this pandemic crisis. They are bringing people together from all walks of life, all with one goal, to give thanks to Healthcare Heroes.”

The nomination process is currently being finalised ready for the full launch in the next couple of weeks, and a verification process will be put in place.

If you are a Healthcare Hero, or know somebody deserving who is, you can register your interest here. You will be notified as soon as the nomination process goes live and is accepting nominations. 

It is believed the holidays will be allocated on a lottery basis, a decision made after consulting doctors and nurses. These could be lotteries held internally, within individual hospitals, or centrally at T4HH initiative. 

By Conor Patrick Faulkner

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COVID-19

Spain rules out EU’s advice on compulsory Covid-19 vaccination 

Spain’s Health Ministry said Thursday there will be no mandatory vaccination in the country following the European Commission’s advice to Member States to “think about it” and Germany’s announcement that it will make vaccines compulsory in February.

Spain rules out EU's advice on compulsory Covid-19 vaccination 
A Spanish man being vaccinated poses with a custom-made T-shirt showing Spain's chief epidimiologist Fernando Simón striking a 'Dirty Harry/Clint Eastwood' pose over the words "What part of keep a two-metre distance don't you understand?' Photo: José Jordan

Spain’s Health Minister Carolina Darias on Thursday told journalists Covid-19 vaccines will continue to be voluntary in Spain given the “very high awareness of the population” with regard to the benefits of vaccination.

This follows the words of European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday, urging Member States to “think about mandatory vaccination” as more cases of the Omicron variant are detected across Europe. 

READ ALSO: Is Spain proving facts rather than force can convince the unvaccinated?

“I can understand that countries with low vaccine coverage are contemplating this and that Von der Leyen is considering opening up a debate, but in our country the situation is absolutely different,” Darias said at the press conference following her meeting with Spain’s Interterritorial Health Council.

According to the national health minister,  this was also “the general belief” of regional health leaders of each of Spain’s 17 autonomous communities she had just been in discussion with over Christmas Covid measures. 

READ MORE: Spain rules out new restrictions against Omicron variant

Almost 80 percent of Spain’s total population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19, a figure which is around 10 percent higher if looking at those who are eligible for the vaccine (over 12s). 

It has the highest vaccination rate among Europe’s most populous countries.

Germany announced tough new restrictions on Thursday in a bid to contain its fourth wave of Covid-19 aimed largely at the country’s unvaccinated people, with outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel speaking in favour of compulsory vaccinations, which the German parliament is due to vote on soon.

Austria has also already said it will make Covid-19 vaccines compulsory next February, Belgium is also considering it and Greece on Tuesday said it will make vaccination obligatory for those over 60.

But for Spain, strict Covid-19 vaccination rules have never been on the table, having said from the start that getting the Covid-19 jabs was voluntary. 

There’s also a huge legal implication to imposing such a rule which Spanish courts are unlikely to look on favourably. 

Stricter Covid restrictions and the country’s two states of alarm, the first resulting in a full national lockdown from March to May 2020, have both been deemed unconstitutional by Spain’s Constitutional Court. 

READ ALSO: Could Spain lock down its unvaccinated or make Covid vaccines compulsory?

The Covid-19 health pass to access indoor public spaces was also until recently consistently rejected by regional high courts for breaching fundamental rights, although judges have changed their stance favouring this Covid certificate over old Covid-19 restrictions that affect the whole population.

MAP: Which regions in Spain now require a Covid health pass for daily affairs?

“In Spain what we have to do is to continue vaccinating as we have done until now” Darias added. 

“Spaniards understand that vaccines are not only a right, they are an obligation because we protect others with them”.

What Spanish health authorities are still considering is whether to vaccinate their 5 to 11 year olds after the go-ahead from the European Medicines Agency, with regions such as Madrid claiming they will start vaccinating their young children in December despite there being no official confirmation from Spain’s Vaccine Committee yet.

READ MORE: Will Spain soon vaccinate its children under 12?

Spain’s infection rate continues to rise day by day, jumping 17 points up to 234 cases per 100,000 people on Thursday. There are now also five confirmed cases of the Omicron variant in the country, one through community transmission.

Hospital bed occupancy with Covid patients has also risen slightly nationwide to 3.3 percent, as has ICU Covid occupancy which now stands at 8.4 percent, but the Spanish government insists these figures are “almost three times lower” than during previous waves of the coronavirus pandemic.

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