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Spanish hoteliers fight for coronavirus rule change so Brits can take cheaper rapid tests from November 23rd 

The Spanish government is being urged to allow Brits to travel to Spain after taking cheaper and easier coronavirus RAPID tests rather than the full PCRs proposed from November 23rd.

Hoteliers on both the mainland and the holiday
islands say there will be confusion over the system, delays and unacceptable
costs for tourists.

And their call for a “common protocol for
the whole of Europe” is now being backed by leading tour companies,
including TUI, which says rapid tests are the way ahead for all destinations.

“We have to be aware of these tests that
are on the market, which are increasingly more effective and less
expensive,” said Ian Livesey, head of TUI for the peninsula and the
Balearic Islands. “They are more practical and increasingly accurate. It
is very important that there is a common message from the European Union so
that each country does things as it should.”

From November 23rd, anyone entering Spain from
an at at-risk country, which currently includes the UK, must take a full PCR
test within 72 hours of travel or risk being fined or turned away at the
airports.

But on November 14th, the Canary Islands
introduced its own different rule which only requires holidaymakers to show
proof of a covid-free certificate obtained through a rapid test before they are
given the keys to their hotel or apartment. The rapid antigen tests don’t cost
as much and are easier to get.

Tourism leaders in Spain say the type of
coronavirus test required by the Spanish government is too expensive and for a
family of four, would cost up to £500.

The Spanish Confederation of Hotels and
Tourist Accommodation says the new rule should be changed to allow rapid
antigen tests as these are cheaper and more accessible.

The call is being backed by the Canary
government which is currently acceping the rapid tests but is asking for
clarification as to what will happen after November 23rd.  They say there
is already confusion over the two new different rules so one new one should be
agreed and introduced.

“The high cost of PCRs and the wait that
these tests entail to obtain results are an additional obstacle to
international tourism, which is added to all those that have been added during
the pandemic,” said president of the hotel association, Jorge Marichal.

“For this reason, the Confederation asks
the Government not to limit itself to requiring the performance of PCR but to
demand that international travellers carry out tests that are cheaper and that
they provide reliable results quickly to facilitate their access to all and
guarantee safe mobility and tourism.” 

“In fact, the European Commission’s own
document on COVID-19 test strategies of October 28th, 2020 already mentions
that the use of rapid antigen tests could be included in the future, after
approval by the EU. “

 “These health measures should also
be extended and applied urgently throughout Europe to unify the tests and not
limited to a measure adopted exclusively by Spain. While this occurs, the
Spanish health authorities should implement their own detection system to speed
up the process. “

“We cannot wait for this unification of
criteria to perpetuate the process. The tourism sector is hanging by a thread
and strong measures must be taken immediately throughout the EU.”

The Canary Islands say the new system
introduced on November 14th is working welcome and there have been no problems.
A spokesman said tourists had been turning up with either full  PCR or
rapid test results proving they were negative from coronavirus. Those who
arrived without a certificate were either being directed to a private clinic or
being helped in some of the hotels which are calling in private staff to
conduct the tests on site. And in some of the cases, says the Canary tourism
department, the hotels are even paying for them.