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Health

Spain's Canary Islands impose negative COVID-19 test rule for tourists

FILE PHOTO: A man in a protective mask sells cookies on the beach as the regional government of the Canary Islands forbids smoking without maintaining a safe distance and makes mandatory to wear protective masks in open public spaces, during the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Gran Canaria, Spain, August 13, 2020. REUTERS/Borja Suarez

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain’s Canary Islands have passed a law obliging tourists visiting the archipelago’s hotels to present a negative COVID-19 test result as part of efforts to prevent imported infections.

Located around 60 miles off Morocco’s Atlantic coast, the chain of seven islands is popular among sun-seeking northern Europeans, especially during the winter, when half its tourism revenues are generated.

Under the new decree, hotels will require guests over the age of 12 to provide a negative test result taken within the 72 hours prior to arrival.

“It is the feasible solution, for the time being..., for the protection of the islands, our tourists and our residents,” regional tourism chief Yaiza Castilla said.

While the Spanish mainland has long been one of Europe’s worst coronavirus hotspots, with an infection rate of 468 cases per 100,000 people, the Canaries have a rate of just 79 cases per 100,000.

Germany and Britain last week lifted restrictions on visiting the islands, providing a glimmer of hope that the winter season could be salvaged after a dismal summer.

In anticipation of rising demand for flights, budget airline Ryanair announced on Friday it would add an extra service per week between London Stansted and Tenerife.

Reporting by Inti Landauro and Nathan Allen; Editing by Ingrid Melander/Mark Heinrich

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