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Spain's islands will open to tourists ahead of biggest cities including Barcelona and Madrid

Spain's islands will open to tourists ahead of biggest cities including Barcelona and Madrid

British holidaymakers will be allowed back to Spain’s islands ahead of the biggest cities, the Spanish foreign minister has said.

Arancha González Laya told the BBC Today programme that her country hopes to open up in June – with the Balearic and Canary islands first to open up to tourists.

Spain has had one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe, which it is lifting – but at different rates in different places.

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Ms González said Spain is aiming to become “the safest destination in Europe”.

“That’s top of our priorities right now.

“We want to make sure that at this moment when every country is suffering from this pandemic, we can provide them with a safe experience.

“At the beginning of May when we thought that the situation was stabilising, we started gradually to de-escalate the measures. We hope to end by the end of June.

“When we open the country first to Spaniards and then to tourists, everybody will be safe.

“Some of our territories, like the islands, are Covid free.

“They can open faster.”

In contrast, she said, Madrid and Barcelona “will need to build sanitary capacity that would allow them to face a new surge in the future”.

Spain is currently imposing 14 days of mandatory quarantine for anyone arriving in the country, but Ms González said: “We are very clear in our minds this is a temporary measure.”

She said it could be replaced by temperature checks and other measures, possibly including a certificate showing the traveller is free of coronavirus.

The Spanish moves are currently academic for prospective British holidaymakers, as the Foreign Office warns against all but essential travel abroad.

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In addition, the UK government says that in June it will introduce mandatory self-isolation for two weeks for everyone arriving in the country, with a few specific exemptions.

The imminent measure means no significant bookings are being made for the coming summer peak, while travel companies and airlines are unsure about whether holidays will take place.

The minister was also asked about the British approach to the Brexit negotiations.

Ms González said: “There is clearly a desire on the British side to continue to enjoy the benefits of belonging to the European internal market. And that has to come with a price because Britain will no longer be a member of the European Union.

“You cannot be out and still enjoy the benefits as if you were in.

“All sides need to show flexibility.”

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