Tourists vanish from locked down Madrid

Madrid, Spain | Wed, October 7, 2020 Β | 07:43 pm

Taxis line up for hours at Madrid airport without picking up a single client while the square outside of the Royal Palace is deserted.

Since Friday night, with the capital of the world’s second largest tourist destination in partial lockdown to combat a rise in cases of coronavirus, tourists have disappeared and the hospitality sector fears the worst.

“Due to constraints on international mobility, we have barely reported occupancy in our hotels, and now we are facing extreme restrictions that will not enable us to serve customers from other regions of Spain,” said Gabriel Garcia Alonso, head of the Madrid hotel association AEHM.

Just when tourism, a cornerstone of the Spanish economy that accounts for some 12% of its GDP, showed signs of picking up, he said, “they are generating this uncertainty.”

Garcia Alonso referred to the lockout measures adopted only grudgingly by Madrid’s conservative regional leaders after a days-long standoff, under pressure from Spain’s leftist central government.

The city’s borders are closed to outsiders for non-essential visits under the terms of the lockdown that came into force on Friday night in Madrid and many satellite cities, while people are permitted to cross borders for work, education, visits to doctors or shopping.

The Ministry of Tourism said visitors are not permitted to spend the night in affected municipalities, but can go elsewhere if they are in transit if they go through them.

Elisa Siam, a 24-year-old who lives in Madrid and has just arrived from the Italian capital, said: “I don’t know if my Italian boyfriend will be able to come from Rome next week because the rules are not clear.”

“I don’t know when we’ll see each other again,” she said, before remembering that she was separated from her partner for five months during the first phase of the pandemic.

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