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Spain to reopen to overseas tourists from July

The Guardian logo The Guardian 2 days ago Sam Jones in Madrid and Stephen Burgen in Barcelona
Pedro Sanchez wearing a suit and tie: Photograph: Handout/EPA © Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Handout/EPA

Spain will reopen to overseas tourists from July, the prime minister has announced, pledging that the government will guarantee the safety of visitors and locals as the country emerges from one of Europe’s strictest coronavirus lockdowns.

Pedro Sánchez also said a €3bn minimum basic income scheme to help families most affected by the pandemic would come into effect in the next few weeks.

The prime minister was speaking after a “car demo” organised by the far-right Vox party brought thousands of people out to protest on Saturday over the government’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis.

Sánchez said: “As you know, Spain receives more than 80 million visitors a year. I am announcing that from July, Spain will reopen for foreign tourism in conditions of safety. Foreign tourists can also start planning their holidays in our country. Spain needs tourism – and tourism needs safety in both origin and destination. We will guarantee that tourists will not run any risks, nor will they bring any risk to our country.”

The prime minister said the central and regional governments had been planning and coordinating the return to tourism for weeks, adding: “We’re sending everyone a message today: Spain will be waiting for you from July.”

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He called on Spaniards to begin planning domestic holidays, and he also announced that football leagues would be allowed to resume from 8 June.

He said a 10-day period of national mourning for the victims of the virus would begin on Tuesday.

To date, 28,628 people in Spain have died from coronavirus and 234,824 have been infected. The health crisis has also exacerbated socio-economic problems, with unemployment rising by 300,000 in March and almost 283,000 in April.

Sánchez said the minimum basic income was part of the coalition government’s commitment to reducing poverty.

“It will cost around €3bn a year and will help four out of five people in severe poverty and benefit close to 850,000 households – half of which include children,” he said. “Neither the government nor Spanish society is going to look the other way while our compatriots queue up to eat, as we are sadly seeing now in some parts of the country.”

Sánchez confirmed that the government had not ruled out seeking a sixth two-week extension of the state of emergency, which has been in force since 14 March.

On Saturday morning, Vox’s protest filled streets in Madrid and other cities with honking vehicles. In Barcelona, a cavalcade of hundreds of cars and motorcycles draped in Spanish flags joined the rally, demanding Sánchez’s resignation and chanting slogans against the government.

a group of people on a boat: The Vox party’s leader, Santiago Abascal, centre, and colleagues onboard a bus during a protest in Madrid on Saturday. Photograph: EPA © Provided by The Guardian The Vox party’s leader, Santiago Abascal, centre, and colleagues onboard a bus during a protest in Madrid on Saturday. Photograph: EPA

Vox, the third largest party in the Spanish parliament, had urged people to get in their cars and create caravans of slow-moving vehicles. In order to limit possible infections, participants were told to stay in their cars and wear the mandatory face masks.

The party has accused Sánchez and his deputy prime minister, the Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias, of a draconian response to the pandemic that had resulted in “unemployment and misery”.

Photos and videos showed five senior members of Vox, including its leader, Santiago Abascal, standing next to each other on an open-top bus to lead the demonstration in Madrid.

Although all were wearing masks, they did not appear to be keeping the recommended two-metre distance from one another at all times.

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Stay at home as much as possible to stop coronavirus spreading - here is the latest government guidance. If you think you have the virus, don't go to the GP or hospital, stay indoors and get advice online. Only call NHS 111 if you cannot cope with your symptoms at home; your condition gets worse; or your symptoms do not get better after seven days. In parts of Wales where 111 isn't available, call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47. In Scotland, anyone with symptoms is advised to self-isolate for seven days. In Northern Ireland, call your GP.

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