By Alyssa McMurtry
OVIEDO, Spain (AA) – Spain will be not just welcoming, but encouraging international tourism starting in July, the prime minister said on Saturday.
“Tourists, as of July, Spain will be expecting you,” Pedro Sanchez told a weekly televised press conference. “Foreign visitors can now start planning their holidays to Spain.”
Spain receives 80 million foreign visitors per year, and the tourism sector accounts for approximately 12% of the country’s GDP.
But the novel coronavirus, which devastated Spain’s health system and economy this spring, has cast a long shadow on the sector’s prospects for the important summer season.
Nearly one million employees in the tourism sector have been temporarily laid off.
“Spain needs tourism and tourism needs safety. We will guarantee that the tourists won’t be at risk and won’t bring any added risk to our country,” said Sanchez.
He announced plans to issue official stamps of approval for establishments that comply with coronavirus-related safety, a move reminiscent of Turkey’s own certification program.
The ministries of Transport and Industry are expected to release a more detailed plan this week about the health protocols that the tourism sector will have to follow as the virus is still out there.
“I publically invite all touristic establishments to start getting ready from today to begin to reboot activity,” said Sanchez.
He also encouraged the public to “take advantage of the wonders we have here in Spain.” He said residents of Spain can start planning trips for as early as June.
An Ernst & Young survey this week found that half of Spaniards have given up hope on traveling for holidays at all this summer. Another 41% said they will opt for national destinations, with just 9% saying they expect to travel abroad.
Whether or not foreign visitors will want to travel to sunny Spain this summer remains an open question.
So far, Spain has confirmed nearly 235,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 28,500 deaths from the disease.
After two months under one of the world’s strictest lockdowns, the virus has become manageable in the country, but it has not been eradicated.
On Friday, the country reported 446 new infections and 56 deaths.
Turkey marks 567th anniversary of Istanbul’s conquest
By Handan Kazanci
ANKARA (AA) - Anadolu Agency is here with a rundown of the latest developments on the coronavirus pandemic and other news in Turkey and around the world.
- Coronavirus in Turkey
Turkey on Thursday confirmed 926 additional recoveries as the country began easing measures against the novel coronavirus, according to the country’s health minister.
The total number of recoveries from the disease hit 131,778 as 926 more patients were discharged from hospitals over the past day, Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter, citing Health Ministry data.
The country's death toll from the outbreak rose to 4,630 as Turkey reported 21 new fatalities over the last 24 hours.
Turkey conducted over 54,000 COVID-19 tests in the past 24 hours, bringing the total tally to more than 2.2 million, said Koca.
Meanwhile, Turkey plans to resume international flights to 40 countries gradually as of June 10, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Adil Karaismailoglu said Thursday.
International flights from Turkey will carry passengers first to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Bahrain, Bulgaria, Qatar and Greece, Karaismailoglu said in a statement.
Turkey suspended all international flights on March 28 amid COVID-19-related travel restrictions worldwide.
- Global coronavirus developments
A low death toll was once again recorded Thursday as France recovers from the coronavirus pandemic which plagued the country over the last three months, according to the latest statistics reported by the Health Ministry.
The country registered a total of 46 deaths in hospitals Thursday, a drop of 39 cases over those reported Wednesday.
Italy on Thursday reported 88 more fatalities from the pandemic, bringing the death toll to 33,689 as authorities unveiled new guidelines to prevent crowded summer spots like beach resorts from becoming new virus hotbeds.
The slowing trend in the number of deaths registered in May continued in early June, confirming that the peak of the crisis has been passed.
Face masks on English public transport will be mandatory from June 15, the British government announced Thursday, as a further 176 people died from the coronavirus over the past 24 hours.
British authorities announced that the UK-wide death toll from COVID-19 is now 39,904.
As Spain prepares for its state of emergency over COVID-19 to last until June 21, the Health Ministry reported Thursday that 195 more people were infected with the coronavirus and five more had died.
The number of infections diagnosed Wednesday was down slightly from the 219 people who tested positive Tuesday but up from Monday and Sunday. In total, 240,660 infections have been confirmed in the country.
Health officials in the Palestinian enclave of Gaza announced Thursday the arrival of medical supplies sent by Turkey to help fight the novel coronavirus outbreak.
In a statement, Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra confirmed that two polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machines had been delivered for detecting the virus.
- George Floyd Memorial service
Hundreds of mourners on Thursday attended the first of several memorials for George Floyd – an unarmed black man who was killed in police custody on May 25.
The service at North Central University in Minneapolis, Minnesota was attended by Floyd's family and Ben Crump, the civil rights attorney representing the family, as well as celebrity guests.
Meanwhile, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday urged demonstrators joining protests over the death of George Floyd to get tested for the novel coronavirus.
Speaking at his daily press briefing, Cuomo said around 30,000 people have taken part in the statewide protests demanding justice for the killing of the unarmed black man in police custody.
Of them, 20,000 were involved in rallies in New York City.
In Europe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged citizens not to overlook the racism problem in Germany while intensely discussing racism and police brutality in the US after the death of George Floyd.
"This murder of George Floyd is very, very terrible. Racism is something terrible,” Merkel said Thursday evening in an exclusive interview with public broadcaster ZDF.
“Racism has always been present, but sadly we also have this [problem]. We should first sweep in front of our own door,” she stressed.
- Other developments
Turkey and Libya plan to advance cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean, including exploration and drilling activities, to further benefit from natural resources, Turkey’s president said in a meeting with Libya’s prime minister Thursday.
The meeting between Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Fayez al-Sarraj took place at the presidential palace in the Turkish capital Ankara.
Erdogan said Turkey and Libya have reached a consensus on expanding their cooperation areas on the territory of Libya.