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Tenerife at a standstill as 5,000 protestors in 3,500 vehicles demand coronavirus tests for holidaymakers at airports 

More than 3,500 vehicles BLOCKED Tenerife today in a major protest to call for coronavirus tests at the airports and the scrapping of the UK’s quarantine rule.

A giant trail of cars, buses, motorcycles and
even cranes stretching more than 20 miles snaked its way across the island from
the popular tourist south to the capital of Santa Cruz in the north.

At its conclusion, a demand was issued to the
Canary government “to protect the Canary Islands, save employment and the
future.”

By tradition, October 1st is the start of
Tenerife’s high season when hundreds of thousands of Brits used to choose the
island for an autumn or winter holiday because of the continued hot weather.

But since the UK government re-imposed its
14-day quarantine ban on all holidaymakers returning to Britain from Spain in
mid-July, the south of the island has been dead. Hundreds of pubs and
restaurants have had to shut their doors and hotels have the minimum of
bookings, with a subsequent spin-off effect for all other businesses associated
with tourism, from excursion companies to taxis.

Business leaders have described the resorts of
Los Cristianos and Playa de las Americas as “unrecognisable” and say
the outlook is bleak unless something changes dramatically.

They say it is imperative to take urgent
action to save the winter season and this should start with rapid coronavirus
tests at the airports for all holidaymakers, both national and international.
Arrangements could be made within a matter of days as planning has been taking
place behind the scenes for months, they point out.

The mass demonstration by road called at
nearly 20 destinations, including Los Cristianos, before arriving in the
capital about two hours later.

The call for coronavirus tests and demonstration
was led by the Circle of Businesses and Professionals of the south of Tenerife,
CEST. Its president, Roberto Ucelay has asked the Canary government to start
the initiative to save the winter season and “to prevent the islands from
being thrown into a crisis unprecedented in recent decades.”

The tests would also be carried out in the
ports.

“We need to protect the population of the
Canary Islands from new outbreaks of Covid 19, caused by the arrival of
infected people and at the same time try to save the winter season of the
largest industry in the archipelago, tourism, responsible for 40% of employment
in the islands,” says CEST.

“To protect ourselves and at the same
time give an image of security to the millions of Europeans who are willing to
come and enjoy their holidays in our paradise, we demand that all who visit us
be tested in ports and airports.”

“Only the Government of the Canary
Islands can make this decision and should feel supported by the population to
implement this measure urgently.”

The Canary government has already indicated
its support for tests, having pressed for them since the pandemic began and
recently announcing that it was “fed up” waiting for approval from
Spain and would go it allow. Tenerife itself has allocated one million euros
towards the costs and businesses and hoteliers say they will also contribute.

No date was set for starting the tests as the
Canary government said the first priority had to be getting coronavirus
outbreaks down. Tenerife is currently on a red alert, mainly due to outbreaks
in the capital of Santa Cruz, together with La Gomera, Fuerteventura and Gran
Canaria.

In the demand presented to the Canary
government, the 5,000 people involved in today’s protest said: “If certain
decisions are not taken immediately, the islands will be doomed to suffer the
worst economic and social crisis that the archipelago has experienced since the
middle of the last century.”

“The measures that have been adopted in
the course of the last months, especially since the end of the state of alarm
decreed by the Government of Spain, have proved insufficient. Proof of this is
that several of the main source markets for tourists have included the Canary
Islands among the destinations that force their citizens to undergo a
quarantine upon returning to their countries and areas of origin.”