Madrid (AP) — In Madrid, the actual party begins at 11:00 pm after the bar closes and the curfew begins.
At that time, a group of young multilingual delights from Italy, the Netherlands, Germany and most notably France join the Spanish contemporaries on the narrow streets of Old Madrid, seeking illegal enjoyment. Most are in their early twenties and want to have a party in the Spanish capital, just as they couldn’t do it at home for months under strict blockades.
Madrid’s policy is to have open bars and restaurants both indoors and outdoors, and it has a reputation as an oasis of fun in the restricted deserts of Europe by continuing to operate museums and theaters even if the outbreak puts a strain on the hospital. Has built up.
Other parts of Spain take a stricter approach to entertainment. Even sunny coastal resorts offer a limited range of options to a small number of visitors who are beginning to arrive, in line with Easter Week, in a series of contradictory European travel rules.
“Going to a bar is a real privilege for me because I can’t do it in France. Here I can go to restaurants, share time with friends outside the house and discover the city,” said Romy Karel. Told. The 20-year-old Berliner flew to Madrid last Thursday from the social sciences of Bordeaux, a city in southern France.
“I can’t remember when I last did this,” she said.
Visitors bring some important business to the locals and give politicians a lot of discussion before the polarized local elections. Madrid’s regional president Isabel Diaz Ayusso, who is running for re-election, is trying to win votes beyond conservative supporters by campaigning under the slogan of “freedom.”
Outside the capital, efforts to revitalize the tourism industry have had various consequences. In part, it is due to a patchwork of rules at the regional, national and even European levels that curb unnecessary domestic travel in many countries while leaving loopholes for those seeking vacations in Spain.
Germany bans all domestic tourism and bans overseas travel, but the government allows travel to the Balearic Islands of Spain, where infection rates are low. Flight and hotel reservations continued, even though many were disappointed that the bars and restaurants were closed at night upon arrival.
“Germany has so many rules that it feels free to come here,” said 18-year-old Marius Hoffmann, shortly after landing in Palma de Mallorca, the capital of the archipelago last weekend.
Another German traveler, David Stock, who visited Granada’s famous Alhambra this week, acknowledged the paradox of his government’s rules, coupled with the acceptance of Spanish tourists.
“Recently, there are strange rules everywhere,” Stock said.
In France, free movement within a radius of 10 km (about 6 miles) from home is restricted in the affected areas. Coupled with the national curfew and the complete closure of bars and restaurants since October last year, it proves too much for many seeking excitement in the South.
France currently accounts for one-fifth of all incoming flights to Madrid, but mobile phone roaming data analysis shows that the increase in French mobile phones has increased in the Spanish capital since January. Is shown.
When the curfew begins, many fun seekers head to underground gatherings that are advertised through messaging groups. Some people are looking for fellow party animals on their way back to the rented Airbnb. Last weekend, police disbanded more than 350 illegal parties and said some of the attendees were hiding in closets and other “mysterious” places.
Spain recently said it would extend the negative coronavirus testing requirements valid for arrivals by sea or air to include those arriving by land from France.
Still, foreigners like Hoffmann and Karel can fly directly from Munich and Bordeaux to Spanish beach resorts and cultural wonders, while Spaniards travel across country regions to villas and relatives. You cannot visit.
It is popular with many, including Nurialopez, the owner of a 45-year-old pastry shop in the Spanish capital.
“It’s unfair,” Lopez said. “But it helps Madrid’s economy, and we need it.”
Many, like her, believe they need to boost the industry, which will account for 12.5% of Spain’s GDP in 2019 and employ nearly 13% of the workforce. Coupled with last year’s first uncompromising blockade, the almost complete suspension of overseas travel meant that the economy would shrink by 10.8% in 2020, the largest decline since the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s.
So even if hospitals fill up again after Christmas, politicians resist the pressure to obey other European countries when ordering a complete stay-at-home order or closing schools and most businesses. did.
To date, Spain has avoided imposing quarantine on visitors from other EU member states. This is different from neighboring Portugal, which tightened mandatory quarantine requirements for most immigrants on Monday.
Pablo Díaz, a tourism expert at the UOC University based in Barcelona, said that pandemic fatigue, especially among the younger generation, and the lack of common European policies, “tourism is a direct corridor in a way that supplies are organic. I found a way to establish. ” And demand is met. “
The increase in bookings prior to Easter week was “like a breath of fresh air for tourists,” he said.
“But that doesn’t mean the industry will soon get out of ICU,” he added.
Bernat Armangue and Iain Sullivan of Madrid, Francisco Ubilla of Palma de Mallorca, Sergio Rodrigo of Granada, Thomas Adamson of Paris and Kirsten Grieshaber of Berlin contributed to this report.
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