The windows in the rooms of the Morlans Garden hotel, in the Mallorcan tourist center of Peguera, remain closed, with a single towel hanging from the railing. A few meters from the beach, one of the annex buildings of this establishment in the municipality of Calvià welcomes 20 tourists who either have tested positive for coronavirus or are companions of those infected. It is the solution devised by the Government of the islands to isolate visitors who fall ill during their vacations and do not have a fixed residence in the community.
The first to release it were a group of 10 travelers from Madrid, one of whom tested positive shortly after arriving, forcing the other nine to be isolated. So far, 60 tourists have passed through its facilities. "It seems like a good idea to me, I think it's a good solution that I don't know if it exists elsewhere," says Karine, a young German woman who spends her holidays with her boyfriend and some friends in an apartment rented for three weeks. He affirms that they are not afraid of contagion and have preferred to rent an apartment on the beach so as not to have to mix with many people.
This is not the only hotel in which the bill is not paid by the clients, but by the public coffers. In the midst of the fright of tourists from around the world - yesterday it was the German Government that declared Spain a "risk zone" after other countries such as the United Kingdom have imposed forced quarantines - the communities want to show themselves as a safe destination, which cares to your guests, against the coronavirus. Four of the autonomies with the greatest weight of tourism in their regional GDP, the Balearic Islands (35%), the Canary Islands (35%), the Valencian Community (15%) and Catalonia (12%) have approved measures to take care of the expenses incurred these weeks by covid-19 in visitors.
First it was the Balearic Islands, which approved paying accommodation to tourists who become infected or who present symptoms on the islands and must be quarantined; Then the Canary Islands presented an insurance policy that covers everything from possible hospitalization to extension of stay; and then the Valencian Community and Catalonia joined with similar proposals in charge of the budgets of each community.
The Balearic department IB-Salut will pay more than half a million euros to accommodate tourists with mild or asymptomatic symptoms affected by covid-19. The award of this service took place on July 24, despite the fact that the first transfer to the Menorca bridge hotel occurred on the 10th, with a Murcian family that has already been able to return home. The Balearic Health Service plans to extend the contracts already signed with the establishments if the pandemic continues and the service is needed to confine visitors.
Kiki, a German who wanders with her husband through the beach area of Peguera, had already heard about the hotel for sick tourists. “It is a good alternative to continue attracting visitors. People in Spain have taken the pandemic very seriously, all wearing a mask on the street. I hope the situation does not get worse. It would be sad for the Germans not to be able to come, ”she says as her partner nods. In a corner of the beach, a group of tourists, also Germans, chat animatedly. Franz, who spends the holidays on the island with his daughter, admits that these measures give him some peace of mind. “The health system here is good. If you catch the disease, at least there is a ready answer ”, he says.
The Canary Islands Government closed an agreement to subscribe an insurance policy for all tourists who travel to the islands, whether they are nationals or foreigners. This insurance will cover travel assistance, medical expenses, health repatriation and prolongation of quarantine stays for those visitors who have contracted covid-19 during their stay in the Canary Islands. The Minister of Tourism, Yaiza Castilla, assured that it is the first community that facilitates this type of coverage. The total cost of the policy is about 450,000 euros, which will cover the risks of tourists visiting the islands until December 31. The insurance, counsel sources emphasize, is complementary and is only activated when there are no other coverage contracted by the tourist. The insurance company, Axa, will make available to the regional government an exclusive hotline to attend to any circumstance related to the policy.
The Valencian Community has also contracted accommodation for tourists who have to isolate themselves at home due to suspicions or confirmation of having contracted covid-19. The investment planned by the Generalitat is 280,000 euros. Benidorm and the capital are the reference points of the two refuge hotels , with rooms available for the exclusive use of these tourists.
For its part, Catalonia has three hotels for tourists who have to undergo quarantine, in Barcelona, Girona and Tarragona. The cost of accommodation will be assumed by the Generalitat. At the moment, these hotels do not have any guests.
From the Catalan town of Ulldecona, Nati, Jordi and their two adolescent children have come to Peguera on vacation. They acknowledge that they have had last minute questions about whether to travel. “Hotels for tourists with coronavirus give security to those who come. You think that at least you are protected, ”says Nati. For the moment, she and her husband hope to enjoy a few days of vacation without coronavirus. "It was my dream," she admits.
WITH INFORMATION FROM BLANCA CÍA (BARCELONA) AND GUILLERMO VEGA (LAS PALMAS)