Benidorm holiday: Post lockdown ‘no foreigners’ measure leaves resort like a ghost town

A new emergency measure approved by Benidorm’s City Council will continue to ban foreigners despite the popular destination attracting tens of thousands of holidaymakers each year. The council has received more than 2,000 requests from families in financial crisis.

Spain began easing restrictions this week as the country moved into ‘phase two’ of the coronavirus lockdown but Benidorm continues to remain deserted and empty.

Mayor Toni Pérez said people would have to “adapt to the situation”.

He said: “You have to adapt to the situation and, although in some places it is impossible, in Benidorm we have wide avenues and a lot of space on the sidewalks, so we are going to make a new distribution of the public space.”

The Mayor also called for an equal “European protocol” for all countries and said he will cary out 700 tests among state security bodies, civil protection volunteers and essential services personnel who are most exposed to catching the virus.

As confinement begins to lift, many of the shops in Benidorm will continue to be empty or allow only two or three people inside at one go.

The Independent Association of Merchants of Benidorm (AICO) warned many would close if the crisis is not redirected.

This week, around 150 establishments associated with Cobreca-Abreca released a video in protest against the government measures, which they said was insufficient.

Toni Mayor, president of the HOSBEC hotel and hospitality business group, said: “Around 60 percent of our market share is international, but this year all Spanish tourist areas depend on the national market.

“Coexistence will not be easy and with so much offer, it will be a slow summer, we are already with our minds set in June next year.

“Even being optimistic, having only national visitors, when August passes and the holidays are over and the children return to school, who is going to come?”

Javier García, executive vice president of the Magic Costa Blanca hotel group, one of the largest chains, with 12 establishments, 8,505 beds and 1,875 employees during high season, said: “We are preparing to open hotels when the de-escalation ends and the movement of people between provinces is allowed, meanwhile, the de-escalation conditions make it impossible for activity to recover and, therefore, for people to recover their jobs in the tourism sector.”

Alex Fratini, from the Pinocchio chain, said: “If many hotels do not open because it is not convenient for them, for the restaurants it is unfeasible with forecasts of 30 percent occupancy.

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“We forget about foreigners this year, but in Madrid the situation is bad too.”

The Pinocchio chain runs six establishments in Benidorm and one in Alicante as well as one in the capital city.

However, the new business only had four hours of activity before the country was put under lockdown.

Pablo González, president of Cobreca continued, said: “We remind the Government that hospitality is not just a business, it is the largest social club on an international scale.”

As many European countries move into the next phase of the coronavirus pandemic, shocking images show people disregarding social distancing rules.

Hundreds of people were photographed in St Mark’s Square in Venice where, just two months ago, it was deserted after it was announced people were allowed to leave their homes for less urgent reasons.

While more than four million people are expected to return to work at factories and construction sites across Milan but those taking public transport must stay 3ft away from each other.

Elsewhere in Europe, restrictions are slowly lifting with Germany reopening schools to give priority for older children as they prepare for summer exams.

Spain is also allowing customers to visit shops such as hair salons, but only by appointment.

Portugal has also lifted its state of emergency and allowed small shops to reopen including hair salons but will issue €350 fines for anyone not wearing a mask.

Both Spain and Portugal have banned groups of more than 10 people in public places and in homes.

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