Spain reopens borders to European tourists

FILE PHOTO: People sit on the beach in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, May 25, 2020. /AP

Spain reopened its borders to European tourists on Sunday in a bid to kickstart its economy which took a battering due to the weeks-long COVID-19 lockdown.

The country dropped a 14-day quarantine for visitors from Britain and countries in Europe’s visa-free Schengen travel zone to boost its vital tourism sector.

Spain also ended it national state of emergency after three months of lockdown, allowing its 47 million residents to freely travel around the country for the first time since March 14.

But there was only a trickle of travelers at Madrid-Barajas Airport, which on a normal June day would be bustling.

“This freedom that we now have, not having to justify our journey to see our family and friends, this was something that we were really looking forward to,” AP quotes Pedro Delgado, 23, after arriving in the Spanish capital from Spain’s Canary Islands.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez urged people to exercise maximum public health precautions, saying that even though Europe is stabilizing, the virus is running rampant on other continents.

“The warning is clear,” Sánchez said. “The virus can return and it can hit us again in a second wave, and we have to do whatever we can to avoid that at all cost.”