Obligatory Covid testing on the cards for travel to the Canary Islands

When the travel corridor to the Canary Islands was announced last week, which meant that UK tourists would no longer have to self-isolate for 14 days on their return home, I thought it was a bit odd that there was no mention of testing before travel, as the Canaries’ authorities had been insisting on it for months.

It looks like something has been in the works, however, as the regional government has drawn up legislation aimed at reducing the risk of importing Covid to the Canary Islands.

The ruling, which if approved is likely to come into force in the next few weeks, states that all tourists – from other parts of Spain or other countries – must take a PCR or antigen (swab) test, at their own expense, 48 to 72 hours before travelling or on arrival, to be able to stay in the Canaries. Without a negative result they can be denied access to their accommodation. Anyone who turns up at their hotel, villa or apartment without this will be sent to a testing centre.

People who then test positive will have to quarantine in designated accommodation before being sent home. The costs of this will be covered by the insurance policy which the Canarian government introduced in August for all visitors to the islands.  

To be clear, you will be able to enter the Canary Islands without being tested, but will not be allowed to stay at holiday accommodation. I’m not sure what happens if you are going to your own holiday home or private property, but presumably this will be revealed as things develop.

The Canarian government has been campaigning for obligatory testing throughout the pandemic, but their initial attempts were blocked by the Spanish government. It has since tried to introduce testing at the islands’ five airports (Tenerife, Gran Canaria, La Palma, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura), but this also hit a brick wall. It is shifting responsibility for imposing testing onto hoteliers and self-catering businesses as it does not have the legislative authority to rule on entry regulations.

If and when the legislation is officially approved, which should happen this week, a publicity campaign will kick in across Europe so that tourists are aware of what they need to do before the measure actually comes into force. The authorities are very keen to get it going, not only to reduce the spread of the disease but also to give some stability to the tourist industry and reassurance to potential visitors. The last thing anyone wants is for cases to increase and everything to be put on hold again now that holidays to the Canaries are back on.

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