CORONAVIRUS

UK removes Canary Islands from travel corridor list citing rise in coronavirus cases

Travelers returning to Britain will have to self-isolate for up to two weeks starting on Saturday

Passengers at César Manrique airport in Lanzarote.
Passengers at César Manrique airport in Lanzarote.Javier Fuentes Figueroa / EFE
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria - 11 Dec 2020 - 10:23 UTC

In a new blow to the tourism industry, the United Kingdom will impose a quarantine on travelers coming from Spain’s Canary Islands starting in the early hours of Saturday.

Located off the western coast of Africa, the archipelago includes the islands of Lanzarote, Tenerife and Gran Canaria, which are popular winter destinations for many Europeans seeking warmer weather. But on Thursday the British government decided to take the region out of its safe travel corridor list, citing a rise in Covid-19 figures. The rest of Spain was already on the quarantine list.

In a message on Twitter, Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps cited concern over rising cases and positive tests.

The region has been consistently posting lower coronavirus figures than the rest of Spain. According to numbers released on Thursday, the 14-day cumulative number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants is 96.92, while the seven-day figure is 51.83. The average incidence rate for Spain is 189, down from a peak of 529.43 a month ago.

The regional government had just announced that it would pass a decree allowing tourists to enter the territory with a negative antigen coronavirus test, which is relatively cheap and can be obtained quickly, rather than the more expensive PCR test, where samples need to be sent to a lab for results. The move was expected to boost the region’s ailing tourism industry following a dismal summer season marked by travel restrictions.

In late October, the UK and Germany – the countries of origin of a majority of visitors to the Canaries – announced that they were putting the region on their safe travel lists after a summer of restrictions. The move was greeted with relief in a region where there were 4.87 million travelers from Britain and 2.5 million from Germany last year, together accounting for over half of the total.

Under a new program set to begin next week in Britain, returning travelers may reduce their two-week quarantine by paying for a private coronavirus test.

English version by Susana Urra.

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