Spain set to reopen borders to visitors

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Spain will reopen its borders to visitors from Europe’s passport-free Schengen travel area on June 21, bringing forward the original date by 10 days, the country’s prime minister has announced.

Spain will also drop its requirement for people arriving from abroad to stay in quarantine, either at home or in a hotel, for 14 days on arrival, Pedro Sanchez said.

In an exception, the border between Spain and Portugal will remain closed to non-essential crossings until July 1.

Spain’s government had already announced that on June 21 it would end the nation’s state of emergency to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

From then on, Spaniards will be able to move freely around the country without restrictions, but face masks will remain mandatory on public transport and in crowded spaces.

On Monday, Spain’s Balearic Islands will test their reopening strategy by accepting the first flights from Germany of tourists who will be exempt from a quarantine. The islands plan to welcome up to 10,900 Germans during the trial.

More than 27,000 Spaniards have died in the country’s pandemic.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

The French government has urged fellow EU members to co-ordinate their border rules, and is sticking to calendar recommendations from the European Commission last week.

People arriving from inside Europe will not need to undergo quarantine, but France will apply different rules to visitors from Spain and Britain because they established different reopening schedules.

France will gradually allow visitors from outside Europe starting July 1, based on the virus situation in countries of origin.

Earlier, China reported its highest daily total of new coronavirus cases in two months, while infections in South Korea also rose, showing how the disease can come back as restrictions on business and travel are lifted.

Virus Outbreak India
Labourers build a new quarantine centre in Gauhati, India (Anupam Nath/AP)

China had 57 new confirmed cases in the 24 hours to midnight on Saturday, the National Health Commission reported. That was the highest since mid-April and included 36 in the capital, Beijing, a city of 20 million people.

Beijing’s cases were all linked to its biggest wholesale food market, which was shut down on Saturday, the official China News Service reported, citing the city’s disease control agency. It said 27 worked there and nine had direct or indirect exposure to it.

The Xinfadi market was closed after 50 people tested positive for the virus in the Chinese capital’s first confirmed cases for 50 days.

The world is seeing more than 100,000 newly confirmed cases every day, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

China, where the pandemic began in December, and other countries that suffered early on including South Korea, Italy and Spain have seen numbers of new infections decline. Brazil, India, the United States and other countries are seeing large increases.

Virus Outbreak China
Paramilitary police stand guard near the Xinfadi wholesale food market in Beijing (Mark Schiefelbein/AP)

The ruling Communist party eased most limits on business and travel after declaring victory over the disease in March. Some curbs still are in place, including a ban on most foreign travellers arriving in the country.

On Saturday, authorities in Beijing locked down 11 residential communities near the Xinfadi market. White fencing sealed off a road leading to apartment buildings and drivers were required to show identification to enter the area.

South Korea’s government reported 34 more coronavirus cases, adding to an upward trend in infections.

The Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said 30 of the new cases were in the greater Seoul area, where half of the country’s 51 million people live. New cases have been linked to nightlife establishments, church services, a large-scale e-commerce warehouse and door-to-door sellers.

Virus Outbreak South Korea Daily Life
An employee wearing a face mask cleans the widows of his shoe store in Seoul, South Korea (Ahn Young-joon/AP)

In the US, the number of new cases in the south-western state of Arizona has risen to more than 1,000 per day from fewer than 400 when the state’s shutdown was lifted in mid-May, according to analysis by the Associated Press.

Governor Doug Ducey has not ordered Arizona residents to wear masks in public despite warnings by health experts outside the government.

Elsewhere, bar owners in New Orleans were preparing to reopen. San Francisco restaurants resumed outdoor seating on Friday and the California government allowed hotels, zoos, museums and aquariums to reopen.

The states of Utah and Oregon suspended further reopening of their economies due to a spike in cases.

The latest Chinese cases raised the mainland’s total to 83,132, with 4,634 deaths, according to the Health Commission. South Korea has reported 12,085 cases and 277 deaths.

Also on Sunday, China’s air regulator announced that China Southern Airlines was required to suspend flights between Dhaka, Bangladesh, and the southern city of Guangzhou for four weeks after 17 passengers on Thursday’s flight tested positive for the virus.

Beijing allows each airline to make one flight per week on each route. Under rules announced on June 4, a route will be suspended for one week if five passengers on a flight test positive and four weeks if the number rises to 10.

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