World Spain opens borders to all vaccinated travellers
Memorial Day: How COVID-19 restrictions will affect the holiday weekend
As Americans prepare for their second Memorial Day weekend under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s events may look like a return to normal with many restrictions easing due to the distribution of vaccines throughout the country. With almost half of adults in America vaccinated against the virus, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky on Tuesday gave an optimistic outlook for events and gatherings over the holiday weekend.
Video: Spain to allow all vaccinated travellers in from June 7 (AFP)
Spain opens its borders to vaccinated travellers from all over the world on Monday, hoping an influx of visitors will revitalise its all-important tourism sector which has been battered by the coronavirus pandemic.
"Spain is a safe destination," Health Minister Carolina Darias insisted, adding that the country was "in the process of reclaiming its global leadership in tourism".
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Fully vaccinated kids don't need to wear masks indoors or outside, the agency said.However, children who are not fully vaccinated should still wear masks outside when they are in a crowd or in sustained close contact with others indoors, the CDC said. Also, 3 to 6 feet of social distancing is still required for unvaccinated kids but not for those who are vaccinated. The guidelines were updated after the CDC said on May 13 that fully vaccinated Americans were no longer required to wear masks outdoors and in most indoor settings.
Non-vaccinated Europeans -- who can currently enter Spain with a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours -- will from Monday be able to take a cheaper antigen test instead.
But in a setback, the United Kingdom, a huge tourism market for the country, has not yet removed Spain from its list of at-risk countries, meaning British travellers will have to quarantine on their return home as well as pay for expensive Covid-19 tests.
The British normally make up the largest contingent of tourists to Spain -- in 2019 over one-fifth of Spain's 83.5 million arrivals were from the United Kingdom.
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Data shows that the number of nursing home deaths related to COVID-19 is down from 10,675 in the first two weeks of January to 472 in the first two weeks of May. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned that low rates of vaccination among health care workers in nursing homes raises the risk of outbreaks. While the outbreaks are less common than earlier in the pandemic, they have disrupted plans for in-person meetings for the first time since the pandemic began over a year ago, leading to frustration from vaccinated family members and patients.
Regardless, those in the tourism sector are still hoping for a summer surge of visitors.
Jose Luis Prieto, president of Spain's travel agents' union (Unav) is hoping for a "spectacular recovery" starting from Monday.
According to him, over the last few weeks tour operators in Britain, France and Germany -- Spain's three main markets -- have been receiving a large number of enquiries.
Across the country, from the Costa del Sol to the Canary Islands, hotels and restaurants are reopening after months of closure, and airlines have restarted routes dropped during the height of the pandemic.
Malaga airport was expecting around 20 different flights on Monday morning alone, from places around Europe such as Berlin, Lille, Frankfurt and London.
Spain will also begin allowing cruise boats into its ports again from Monday.
- 'Disappointing' British decision -
The 6 reasons Americans aren’t getting vaccinated
This is the challenge America has to overcome to get back to a post-pandemic normal.America’s vaccine campaign has collapsed from its previous highs. While at one point in mid-April more than 3 million people received the shot each day, now only around 1.2 million are now — a rate that’s less than half of what it was at the peak. So the US might not make President Joe Biden’s goal to vaccinate 70 percent of adults by July Fourth: At the current rates, roughly 175 million adults will get at least their first shots by Independence Day, falling short of the nearly 180 million needed.
Britain's decision to keep Spain on its amber list was, however, "disappointing", the health minister said.
Spain had put several measures in place to lure British tourists to its shores, such as allowing them to enter without having to present a PCR test from late May.
The Spanish tourism minister said Friday that she did not understand the British government's refusal to allow certain areas of Spain where Covid-19 cases are low, like the Canary Islands, on to its green list.
Against the backdrop of uncertainty, major travel operator TUI has cancelled all its flights to Spain until June 13.
London will not revisit its decision for another three weeks, precious time for those in the hospitality sector hoping to recover some of the losses of 2020, when visitor arrivals dropped by 77 percent compared to the year before.
Heavily dependent on its tourism industry, Spain was one of the Western economies worst hit by the pandemic, seeing a 10.8 percent fall in its GDP in 2020.
The Spanish government has set an objective of drawing 45 million travellers by the end of the year.
But by the end of April, the country had only seen 1.8 million visitors, according to official statistics.
Spain 0-0 Sweden: Luis Enrique's team settle for goalless draw .
PETE JENSON IN SPAIN: Alvaro Morata missed good chances either side of half time and with unforgiving home supporters jeering him he was taken off with 25 minutes left. The former Chelsea striker carried the can for Spain's failure to finish moves and make the most of their domination of possession but it was Olsen's night with a string of superb saves including an injury time block to deny substitute Gerard Moreno.