Spain will reopen its land borders with France and Portugal on July 1, the tourism ministry said Thursday, reversing an earlier statement by the minister suggesting it would be earlier.
The clarification was issued after Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto told a foreign press briefing that the restrictions on cross-border movement with France and Portugal would be lifted on June 22nd.
“We are maintaining the date of July 1 for the resumption of international mobility and the reopening of international tourism,” a spokeswoman told AFP after Lisbon expressed surprise and asked for clarification.
In a statement, the ministry said internal mobility within Spain would be permitted once a national state of alert ended on June 21, while the country would reopen its borders to international visitors “from July 1”.
“We were surprised by (Maroto's) declarations,” Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva told national news agency Lusa.
“It is, of course, Portugal which decides on the reopening of the Portuguese border and Portugal wants to do this in a coordinated manner” with Spain, he said.
“Unfortunately, declarations by Spanish government ministers follow one after the other and are not closely coordinated.”
“In the case of France and Portugal, I want to confirm that from June 22nd, the restrictions on mobility will be lifted,” Maroto had said in a briefing with the foreign press on Thursday morning, adding that in principle the 14-day quarantine requirement “will also be dropped”.
“This is very important because it will allow us to welcome back both French and Portuguese tourists,” the minister noted.
The date coincided with the end of the state of emergency which has just been given a final extension until June 21st.
Spain closed its borders with France and Portugal on March 17, three days after imposing a nationwide lockdown to battle the virus which has infected more than 240,000 people and killed over 27,000.
And Spain had announced in May it would quarantine anyone arriving into the country from Europe from May 15th.
France responded by saying that it would quarantine arrivals from Spain “on the principle of reciprocity” with a French presidential official saying the quarantine measure “did not represent the desire” of France.
However the French quarantine currently in place has a lot of exemptions and is voluntary only.
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Spain had already announced it would ditch the quarantine requirement for arrivals in July in order to encourage tourism.
“Right now, given the improvement in the epidemic in Spain, there is a debate under way about whether we could bring forward the date for lifting this quarantine requirement,” Morato said.
“If the conditions are right to lift the requirement before July 1st, we will.”
However, a statement issued by the Spanish government just hours later made clear that the July 1date still stood. This is in line with an announcement made by the Spanish premier in late May.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said late last month that Spain was preparing to kickstart its tourism sector and welcome visitors from July.
“I am announcing to you that from the month of July, entry for foreign tourists into Spain will resume in secure conditions,” Sanchez told a press conference.
Reaffirming the importance of tourism to the Spanish economy, Sanchez said the country would again be ready to welcome visitors in the summer.
“As you know, Spain receives more than 80 million visitors a year. I am announcing that from July.
“Foreign tourists can also start planning their holidays in our country,” he said.