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Spain plans to allow Britons to enter without PCR test from May 20

People wait in queue outside a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test site at Son Sant Joan airport in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, March 29, 2021. REUTERS/Guillermo Martinez

Spain plans to lift its requirement for Britons to present a negative coronavirus PCR test upon arrival from May 20, provided that the infection rate in Britain keeps declining, the Spanish tourism minister said on Tuesday.

"It will allow the opening of the British market so they can come to Spain," Reyes Maroto told reporters after a weekly cabinet meeting, offering a glimmer of hope to the flagging tourism sector.

Plans to lift the PCR requirement form part of a broader revision of EU regulations on non-essential travel from outside the bloc, which Ms Maroto expected to be approved by May 20.

"They (Britons) could come from May 20 onwards without a PCR if the incidence rates are below the range currently under review, which is around 50" cases per 100,000 people, Ms Maroto said.

She also stressed that Spain must bring down its own infection rate to encourage the British government to lift restrictions on returning travellers.

Britain will allow international travel to resume from May 17 after months of banning most trips abroad, but Spain is not included in its so-called "green list" of safe destinations.

That means Britons returning from a trip to Spain would have to self-isolate on arrival for 10 days and take two COVID-19 tests.

"We know what we have to do to allow British people to travel to Spain, which is to lower the cumulative incidence and keep on vaccinating," Ms Maroto said.

More than 18 million British tourists travelled to Spain in 2019, making up the biggest group of foreign visitors.

But that fell to just 3.2 million in 2020, a year in which international tourism to the country slumped 80% amid a succession of restrictions on travel.

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