The Spanish government has announced it is keeping its borders closed until 70% of the country’s population has received the coronavirus vaccine.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez made the announcement during the 113th meeting of the Executive Council of the World Tourism Organisation in Madrid on Wednesday, January 20.
The PM said that only when the majority of its citizens have been vaccinated will Spain ‘progressively’ prepare to welcome international tourists again.
Sanchez commented: ‘Only mass vaccination will open the way to the normality we want.’
Non-essential travel to Spain from the UK was originally banned last year until January 9, however the restrictions were then extended to February 2 at the earliest.
At the time, the government stated that the ban was extended due to ‘some uncertainties over the reach of the new strain’ of coronavirus first detected in the UK.
It added: ‘The epidemiological situation in the United Kingdom has progressively worsened.’
Though many Brits may have hoped to take a holiday to Spain in the summer months, the current trajectory of the country’s vaccine rollout suggests the 70% target won’t be met until the end of the summer.
The news comes as cases continue to rise in Spain, with 44,357 new infections reported yesterday, January 21. The figures broke the record for daily coronavirus contagion in the country for the second day in a row.
The number of infections has increased by nearly 9,000 compared to the week prior, while the death toll is also on the rise with numbers doubling since last week to 404, according to the Anadolu Agency.
The total number of people who have died from coronavirus in Spain has now surpassed 55,000.
On Thursday, the government released a statement saying 157 cases of the new strain of coronavirus have been detected in Spain and that the risk of it spreading ‘is very high.’
The decision to close the borders was likely not one to be taken lightly, as Spain’s tourism sector has already been hit hard by the pandemic. Last year, the sector reported losses of €106bn due to coronavirus, with Barcelona, Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca hit the hardest, The Sun reports.
Spanish residents currently residing in the UK are able to return home, however new travel restrictions mean they must be able to provide a negative coronavirus test on arrival to Spain.
Brits are currently being urged to avoid all non-essential travel as the third national lockdown is underway.