Spain opens borders to tourists, cruise ships

World

People wearing face masks to protect against the spread of coronavirus walk along a comercial street in downtown Madrid, Spain, Saturday, June 5, 2021. Coronavirus infections, hospitalizations and deaths are plummeting across much of Europe. Vaccination rates are accelerating, and with them, the promise of summer vacations. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

MADRID (AP) — Spain jumpstarted its summer tourism season on Monday by welcoming vaccinated visitors from most countries as well as European visitors who can prove they are not infected with coronavirus. It also reopened its ports to cruise ship stops.

Non-vaccinated travelers from the European Union’s 27 countries can enter Spain now with the negative results of recent antigen tests, which are cheaper and faster than PCR tests for coronavirus.

Spain is still banning non-essential travelers from Brazil, India and South Africa, where virus variants have been been a major source of concern.

Authorities will accept as proof official certificates that the visitors were vaccinated at least 14 days before the trip or that they overcame a COVID-19 infection in the past six months.

People wearing face masks to protect against the spread of Coronavirus dance “Sardana”, a traditional Catalan dance, in front of the cathedral in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, June 5, 2021. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

The certificates can be in Spanish, English, French or German — or their equivalent translations in Spanish, the government’s order said.

The vaccines accepted are those approved by Europe’s drug regulator — Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson — as well as two Chinese vaccines authorized by the World Health Organization, Sinopharm and Sinovac.

The same documents will be valid for EU visitors until the bloc gets together its “Digital Green Certificate” that some have dubbed a vaccine passport for traveling.

The Spanish government has set a goal of receiving between 14.5 million to 15.5 million visitors between July and September. That’s about 40% of the tourists in the same period of 2019 but twice as many as last summer, when only EU visitors could enter Spain.

Tourism is a major industry that in 2019 accounted for over 12% of Spain’s GDP.

In another move to boost tourism, Spanish ports opened to cruise ships on Monday, nearly 15 months after they were banned as the first coronavirus outbreaks were detected.

After peaking in late January at nearly 900 new cases per 100,000 residents in 14-days, the coronavirus contagion indicator in Spain has dropped to 117 per 100,000. Still, its descent has stalled in the past days as new infections are spreading among unvaccinated groups.

Spain has counted over 80,000 COVID-19 deaths in the pandemic.

People wearing face masks to protect against the spread of coronavirus gather in downtown Madrid, Spain, Saturday, June 5, 2021. Coronavirus infections, hospitalizations and deaths are plummeting across much of Europe. Vaccination rates are accelerating, and with them, the promise of summer vacations. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

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