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Spain’s Canary and Balearic Islands could be added to UK’s green list in early June: Report

Spain started welcoming British travellers without restrictions on May 24th even though the country is still on the UK's ten-day quarantine "amber" list. But a UK minister quoted by the BBC has said the Canaries and the Balearics could soon be added to the green list and judged separately from mainland Spain.

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Image: 4634656 / Pixabay

A UK government minister has said that Spain’s popular holiday islands could soon be placed on England’s green list, according to an article in the BBC.

Although the minister was not named by the BBC, several other UK media sources have reported that Aviation Minister Robert Courts has said that UK tourists could be allowed to visit islands – including Spain’s or Greece’s – even if high infection rates prevent the entire country from being added to the UK’s quarantine-free “green” list.

If this happens, it will mean that British residents living in either of Spain’s archipelagos will be able to travel back to visit friends and family without having to quarantine upon arrival and holidaymakers won’t have to quarantine upon return from the holiday islands.

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has also indicated that this could be as soon as June 7th and confirmed that islands would be looked at separately when the travel rules are updated.

June 7th is also the date when Spain has announced that all vaccinated travellers will be able to enter the country.

As things stand, The UK Foreign Office “advises against all but essential travel to Spain, including the Balearic Islands but excluding the Canary Islands, based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risks”. That doesn’t mean that the Canaries is on the green list which offers quarantine free travel, however.

Tourism authorities in the Canary and Balearic islands had expect to be judged differently to the rest of mainland Spain ahead of the UK government’s announcement of its traffic light system for safe travel, but finally all of Spain was included as “amber” for travel from May 17th.

READ ALSO: Spain to allow all vaccinated travellers from around the world to visit from June 7th

Shapps told the transport select committee that he “asked The Joint Biosecurity Centre to consider islands within their criteria and where possible they would look to include if them if facts stacked up”.

However, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that no final decisions had been made yet.

He said that scientific analysis of each destination had to be made, including vaccination levels, infection levels and the ability to track how the virus is evolving.

At the moment this is a waiting game, he said, indicating that the status would change when other countries catch up with UK’s vaccination rate. “Part of this is having the patience to let this come through the system,” Shapps explained. 

According to the Telegraph, Prime Minister Boris Johnson also told the Conservative 1922 Committee on May 20th that “quite a few” countries were on the verge of being added to the green list in early June.

Spain is currently vaccinating those in their 50s and completing the inoculation for older age groups, which means that 8.3 million people, representing 18 percent of the population, have already been fully vaccinated.

Secretary of State for Tourism Fernando Valdés told Sky News that “Spain is making a great effort” with its vaccine rollout.

Earlier this month, Spain’s Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto said she was confident that the country would get “green light” status soon.

“Taking into account the advance of the vaccination programme which is happening according to plan and the accumulated incidence of coronavirus is going down, we are confident Spain will soon enter the green list,” she said.

“We are convinced British tourists will be able to holiday in our country this summer if that is their wish,” she added confidently.

A recent article in The Guardian also suggested that Valencian regional authorities are also pushing for the UK to factor in the region’s persistently low fortnightly infection rate – currently around 29 infections per 100,000 people – when deciding which countries – or in this case regions – will be in the next UK travel list evaluation in June. 

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TRAVEL

IN IMAGES: Spain’s ‘scrap cathedral’ lives on after creator’s death

For over 60 years, former monk Justo Gallego almost single-handedly built a cathedral out of scrap materials on the outskirts of Madrid. Here is a picture-based ode to his remarkable labour of love.

IN IMAGES: Spain's 'scrap cathedral' lives on after creator's death
File photo taken on August 3, 1999 shows Justo Gallego Martinez, then 73, posing in front of his cathedral. Photo: ERIC CABANIS / AFP

The 96-year-old died over the weekend, but left the unfinished complex in Mejorada del Campo to a charity run by a priest that has vowed to complete his labour of love.

Gallego began the project in 1961 when he was in his mid-30s on land inherited from his family after a bout of tuberculosis forced him to leave an order of Trappist monks.

Today, the “Cathedral of Justo” features a crypt, two cloisters and 12 towers spread over 4,700 square metres (50,600 square feet), although the central dome still does not have a cover.

He used bricks, wood and other material scavenged from old building sites, as well as through donations that began to arrive once the project became better known.

A woman prays at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
A woman prays at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

The building’s pillars are made from stacked oil drums while windows have been cobbled and glued together from shards of coloured glass.

“Recycling is fashionable now, but he used it 60 years ago when nobody talked about it,” said Juan Carlos Arroyo, an engineer and architect with engineering firm Calter.

Men work at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021 in Mejorada del Campo, 20km east of Madrid.
Men work at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021 in Mejorada del Campo, 20km east of Madrid. Photo: (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

The charity that is taking over the project, “Messengers of Peace”, hired the firm to assess the structural soundness of the building, which lacks a permit.

No blueprint

“The structure has withstood significant weather events throughout its construction,” Arroyo told AFP, predicting it will only need some “small surgical interventions”.

Renowned British architect Norman Foster visited the site in 2009 — when he came to Spain to collect a prize — telling Gallego that he should be the one getting the award, Arroyo added.

Religious murals on a walls of Justo's cathedral. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Religious murals on a walls of Justo’s cathedral. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

The sturdiness of the project is surprising given that Gallego had no formal training as a builder, and he worked without a blueprint.

In interviews, he repeatedly said that the details for the cathedral were “in his head” and “it all comes from above”.

Builders work on the dome of the Cathedral of Justo on November 26th. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Builders work on the dome of the Cathedral of Justo on November 26th. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

The complex stands in a street called Avenida Antoni Gaudi, named after the architect behind Barcelona’s iconic Sagrada Familia basilica which has been under construction since 1883.

But unlike the Sagrada Familia, the Cathedral of Justo Gallego as it is known is not recognised by the Roman Catholic Church as a place of worship.

Visit gaze at the stained glass and busts in of the cathedral's completed sections. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Visit gaze at the stained glass and busts in of the cathedral’s completed sections. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

‘Worth visiting’

Father Angel Garcia Rodriguez, the maverick priest who heads Messengers of Peace, wants to turn Gallego’s building into an inclusive space for all faiths and one that is used to help the poor.

“There are already too many cathedrals and too many churches, that sometimes lack people,” he said.

“It will not be a typical cathedral, but a social centre where people can come to pray or if they are facing difficulties,” he added.

A photo of Justo Gallego Martinez on display at his cathedral following his passing. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
A photo of Justo Gallego Martinez on display at his cathedral following his passing. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

Father Angel is famous in Spain for running a restaurant offering meals to the homeless and for running a church in central Madrid where pets are welcome and the faithful can confess via iPad.

Inside the Cathedral of Justo, volunteers continued working on the structure while a steady stream of visitors walked around the grounds admiring the building in the nondescript suburb.

“If the means are put in, especially materials and money, to finish it, then it will be a very beautiful place of worship,” said Ramon Calvo, 74, who was visiting the grounds with friends.

FIND OUT MORE: How to get to Justo’s Cathedral and more amazing images

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