Tuesday, October 19

‘Alcohol tourism’: images of drunk foreign tourists in Spain irritate locals locked up

Spanish television broadcast a video Monday of officers smashing apartment windows over the weekend to evict occupants who were holding a party that violated virus restrictions.

The fact that several of the partygoers were reportedly foreigners fueled resentment over the seemingly haphazard nature of travel restrictions in Europe during the pandemic, and many Spaniards took to social media to express their anger.

While Spaniards cannot leave their own regions until April 9 to prevent a resurgence of coronavirus infections during Easter, similar restrictions do not apply to international tourists, who can still fly to Spain if they present proof. negative Covid.

And with its 11:00 pm curfew and open bars and restaurants, Madrid has attracted dozens of visitors from countries undergoing stricter closures.

According to online travel company Kayak, searches for flights to Madrid from neighboring France increased 142 percent in March from the same period last year, at a time when searches for flights overall have dropped dramatically.

“These images worry me,” Health Minister Carolina Darias told reporters Monday when asked about photos of revelers in Madrid.

“The image of our country is that of responsible people who respect the rules,” he said.

With Madrid in the middle of a crucial campaign ahead of the regional elections on May 4, the laissez-faire attitude of the authorities, who for months have insisted on minimizing Covid restrictions, has drawn strong criticism.

‘Alcohol tourism’

But Madrid’s conservative regional leader, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, said it was up to Spain’s left-wing central government to tighten entry rules.

“We cannot spread the idea that there is ‘alcohol tourism’ in Madrid,” he said in an interview with private television La Sexta.

Madrid has been the only major European capital that has kept social life virtually unrestricted since a nationwide blockade was completely lifted in June 2020, with cinemas and theaters open as well.

While the policy has been applauded by the hospitality sector, it is considered one of the reasons why Madrid has consistently had one of the highest incidences of coronavirus in Spain.

Photo: Gabriel Bouys / AFP

Madrid municipal police said they broke up 353 illegal parties over the weekend, down from 384 the week before.

In many cases, the raids are triggered by noise complaints from neighbors of Airbnb rental apartments where the parties are taking place.

“We need citizen cooperation now more than ever,” José Manuel Franco, the main representative of the central government in the Madrid region, said on Monday.

He urged people to keep reporting the illegal parts to the authorities.

Amid the furor over the lack of travel restrictions for foreign tourists, Spain announced on Saturday that anyone crossing the land border into the country would have to submit a negative PCR test, as had already been the case for those arriving. by air.


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