Spain to open borders to some visitors on June 21, plans aid for auto sector

Reuters
Madrid, Spain Published: Jun 14, 2020, 08:33 PM(IST)

Coronavirus in Spain Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez also said a planned aid package to rescue Spain's automobile sector, hard hit by the pandemic lockdown, would total 3.7 billion euros, adding that further details would be announced on Monday.

Spain will reopen its borders to visitors from Europe's open-border Schengen area from June 21, 10 days earlier than previously planned, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Sunday, in a further easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

Sanchez also said a planned aid package to rescue Spain's automobile sector, hard hit by the pandemic lockdown, would total 3.7 billion euros, adding that further details would be announced on Monday.

"We have been able to corner the virus in our country and on the European continent... but the risk has not disappeared," Sanchez told a news briefing after talks with leaders of Spain's 17 regions.

"Tourism is a key sector for the economic recovery," he said, announcing the opening of Spain's borders on June 21 to visitors from the Schengen area, which includes most of the European Union and some non-EU nations such as Norway.

Spain's state of emergency ends that same day. Limits on mobility will be lifted but wearing masks in public will remain mandatory until a cure or vaccine for COVID-19, the lung disease caused by the virus, is found.

However, Sanchez said Spain's land border with Portugal would remain closed till July 1, without saying why.

Visitors from outside the Schengen area will be able to visit Spain from July 1, though that will hinge on specific border agreements. Britain and Ireland are outside Schengen.

Spain's borders are currently closed to tourists and those exempted from the entry ban must then spend 14 days in quarantine as a precaution against the spread of COVID-19, which has so far killed more than 27,000 people in Spain.

In a small prelude to the wider opening of its borders, Spain will allow German tourists to start visiting its Balearic Islands from Monday in a test programme.

The government has said it will announce support measures for the tourism sector on Thursday. Together, tourism and automobiles account for over 20% of Spain's gross domestic product.

The lockdown has hammered car sales in Spain, and last month Nissan Motor Co [7201.T] said it would close its 3,000-workforce plants in Barcelona. The government has said it will try to reverse the decision.

Read in App