31st Jul 2021 @ 6:32 pm

Lanzarote in August will be a testing ground, as British and Irish tourists finally start to return at a time when the delta variant is gaining ground throughout Europe.

First published August 1st 2021 in the Gazette Life magazine.

Last summer, Spain and the Canaries once again opened up to tourism. It didn’t last long before a second wave of Covid hit Europe and travel restrictions were tightened up. Now, the islands are opening up again, but things are very different from last summer.

Back then, tourists were accepted without testing and no vaccine had yet been developed. Now, testing is a vital element of travel and the vaccination programme in Spain is on target to reach its goal of jabbing 70% of the population aged over 18 by the end of the summer.

The UK’s vaccination programme is even more advanced, but at the time of writing the UK is showing the worst infection figures in Europe after Cyprus, with three times as many daily infections as Spain. The deliberate decision of the UK government to “let Covid rip” over the summer has shocked many countries, which have slapped quarantine restrictions on British visitors.

Nevertheless, Spain, along with other countries such as Portugal and Greece, is desperate for the return of British tourists and the economic boost they will bring. As a result, Spain will accept proof of vaccination or a negative test result as a condition for entry. Last month, the UK removed quarantine restrictions for those arriving from amber list countries who have been vaccinated in Britain, meaning that Brits need only take a pre-travel test and a Day 2 test on return.

It’s too late to keep the Delta variant out of the Canaries – it’s already the dominant strain here, and infection figures have been rising on all the islands recently. However, UK tourists are almost certainly safer here than they are at home, while Lanzarote residents can take comfort in the fact that very few outbreaks here have ever been connected with tourism.

Tourists will find an island that is, if anything , more beautiful than ever, but also one where anti-Covid measures may be stricter than where they’ve come from. Respect, patience and understanding will be important for everyone as Lanzarote tries to struggle back to its feet.

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