Four islands leading the way in de-escalation
The Spanish islands of La Gomera, El Hierro, La Graciosa and Formentera are leading the way for Spain in the way ahead amidst the coronavirus.
Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez yesterday
announced details of the country’s de-escalation plan and predicts the
beginning of the “new norm” will be reached by the end of June.
The measures, which will include the partial
reopening of hotels, bars, restaurants, terraces and beaches as the four phases
progress, will be carried out from region to region, depending on how
coronavirus infections and deaths are evolving. Most will start the process on
La Gomera, El Hierro, La Graciosa and Formentera
are being allowed to “jump the gun”, however, and will start
preparations for the “new norm” on May 4th instead.
La Gomera has had seven coronavirus infections
and NO deaths, El Hierro has only had one positive case of coronavirus and NO
deaths and La Graciosa has been totally free from the virus. There have been
134 deaths in the Canary Islands and a low rate of infections at 2,202.
The first three islands – La Gomera, El Hierro
and La Graciosa – are all in the Canary Islands whilst Formentera is part of
the Balearics near Mallorca and Ibiza.
It WON’T mean British holidaymakers will be
able to make an instant return as this is will still be dependent on Spain
totally lifting travel bans from outside the islands and the airports reopening
but Brits ARE expected to put these islands on their “must visit”
list in the future.
La Gomera, El Hierro and La Graciosa are already
firm favourites for British holidaymakers when they visit the bigger islands of
Tenerife, Lanzarote and Gran Canaria whilst Formentera is a nature island with
protected landscape, reached only by ferry and with spectacular beaches.
All four islands have very special stories to
tell. El Hierro was thrust into the international news when it suffered an
underwater volcanic eruption in the Sea of Calm in December 2011 following more
than 4,000 tremors. It is the second smallest island of the Canaries and has a
population of just 11,000.
At one stage, it was feared that the whole
island would have to be evacuated but it has since bounced back with its
natural charm, spectacular diving and near 100 per cent energy efficiency
which has placed it on the world map.
La Gomera is the third smallest island of the
Canaries and is much favoured by hikers, including the German Chancellor Angela
Merkel. It does have its own hotels and rural retreats and is also much visited
by Brits staying on the bigger islands.
La Graciosa was recently granted official
status as the eighth island of the Canaries. The tiny island lies off the
northern tip of Lanzarote and its population is just 700.
Formentera lies south of Ibiza and is the
smallest inhabited island in the Balearics. It is only accessed by boat and
features crystal clear water and pristine beaches.
From Monday, these four islands will jump to
the first stage of the de-escalation period, with the opening of some shops and
businesses by appointment, churches, restaurant terraces and accommodation.
Capacity will be severely limited, there will be social distancing as before
and the wearing of masks will be advised.
President of Lanzarote’s local government,
which looks after La Graciosa, said she was delighted at the special permission
given to the island.
“We are getting closer to the return to
the new normal. We know that many things will not be as before and that we will
have to change some habits but little by little we are overcoming the
emergency. Our health staff have done the impossible to get here and are
exhausted. Now it is up to us, starting with La Graciosa, to maintain a high
level of responsibility so as not to jeopardise what has been achieved.”
La Gomera’s leader, Casimiro Curbelo said they
had already been making preparations for an early start.
“It is very good news that the
particularities of islands such as La Gomera have been taken into account,
whose impact situation of the Covid-19 allows us to go one step further than
other places that continue to have a higher risk,” he said but
warned: “You have to act calmly and not let your guard down. The success
of this process depends on us .”
Formentera’s president, Alejandra Ferrer said
she was pleased the island had jumped to the first phase of de-confinement which
she attributed to “individual responsibility and the collective
collaboration of citizens, who, together with strict decision-making from the
outset, has ensured virus isolation and only seven cumulative cases have
All four islands say it will be an
“enormous responsibility” but they will try to meet the challenges
Spain’s Prime Minister hasn’t indicated when
tourism or unrestricted travel between the islands, the mainland, Europe and
beyond will begin or when airports and ports will reopen as only then, say the
four leaders, can tourism begin to flourish again.