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Spain’s Balearic Islands to request PCR test or vaccination certificate from British tourists 

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced on Monday that UK tourists visiting Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza or Formentera will have to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test or that they’ve been fully vaccinated.

Spain's Balearic Islands to request PCR test or vaccine certificate from British tourists 
Photo: Jaime Reina/AFP

Sánchez made the announcement on Spanish radio station Cadena Ser, stating that his government will “apply the same conditions to British tourists who go to the Balearic Islands” as to other international travellers. 

“They will need a complete vaccination certificate or negative PCR test. 

“The measure will come into force in 72 hours”, Sánchez added, meaning Thursday July 1st.

Numerous Spanish news sources have reported that the Spanish Prime Minister’s announcement actually extends to all of the country’s 17 regions, even though he specifically stated the Balearic Islands.  

The news also comes just days after the UK government included the Mediterranean archipelago on its “green” travel list, which allows returning British tourists to avoid the ten-day quarantine mandatory for travel to all other regions in Spain as they’re on the “amber” list.

The announcement is reported to have caused a spike of 3,000 percent in holiday bookings by budding travellers looking to fly to the archipelago which includes the islands of Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera.

UK holidaymakers travelling to Spain have not had to present a negative PCR test or show proof of their Covid-19 health status since May 24th, but now travellers who had hoped to go to the Balearics and avoid quarantine upon return will have to at least carry paper or digital proof that they’ve had a PCR test within the last 72 hours or completed their vaccination treatment more than 14 days before travel.

The Balearic Islands have also been at the centre of a huge Covid-19 cluster which occurred after an end-of-year student trip in Mallorca, with hundreds of youths testing positive for Covid-19 across at least eight Spanish regions. 

“British tourists have to be tested upon return to the United Kingdom so we have also told the national government that we want controls with proof of testing on arrival or a certificate of complete vaccination,” spokesperson Iago Negueruela told Cadena Ser last Friday, hinting that there would “be no problem” for Madrid to adopt this measure.

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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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