By Euro Weekly News Media • 10 July 2020 • 13:51
Image by Makalu from Pixabay
THE three-month State of Alarm ended in Spain on June 21, meaning that once again, travel into and around the country is permitted. It’s no secret that the Coronavirus pandemic rocked the Iberian nation, with over 247,000 cases and more than 28,000 deaths to date (source: worldometer).
However, Spain’s tourist industry is crucial to the country; it is the second most visited country in the world after France and the tourist economy makes up nearly 12 per cent of Spain’s GDP (source: Reuters). To avoid the inevitable economic downturn getting out of control, it was important to find a way to re-introduce tourism safely.
With a population of 440,000, Granada didn’t suffer quite as badly as other Spanish cities, such as Madrid and Barcelona. But it went into lockdown with the rest of the country on March 14, and has experienced a gradual lifting of restrictions since May.
Now, Granada’s Moorish buildings and tapas bars are ready to welcome tourists back. Things are looking a bit different – businesses are fully aware of the social distancing measures that are essential to prevent a second wave – but tourism to the city is once again possible.
Andalucia, the region in which Granada is located, has created its own Covid safe certificate – Andalusia Segura (safe Andalucia) which it is now using to recommend specific tourist businesses.
The Andalusia Segura badge is given to companies who are complying with Covid-19 safety measures dictated by the WHO, and it is recommended that tourists only use businesses with this badge. Separate safety measures apply to hostels, restaurants, tour providers, attractions etc.
One of the best ways to see a city is on two feet, and while Granada’s many walking tour companies have had their operations put on hold during the lockdown, some are expected to make a comeback soon. From July 1, Walk in Granada will be operating once again with group and private tours of the historic centre, the Alhambra, Sacromonte and the Albacin.
Safety measures will be implemented, such as the compulsory use of masks, a distance of 1.5 metres between people, guest numbers capped at 20, and no paper maps.
Granada’s main attraction, the Alhambra, is a Moorish castle that sits on the top of a hill overlooking the city and was its pride and joy up until March. Then, along with the rest of the city, it had to close its doors. The Alhambra and the adjacent 12th century Generalife Gardens reopened on June 17, with some changes to how things are run.
They have reduced capacity to 50 per cent of the usual, with only 4,250 tickets for sale each day. Some parts of the Alhambra will be one way, and maps will be available virtually rather than physically. Using antibacterial gel will be mandatory, and shared equipment like audio guides and baby carriers will not be available. It is best to hire a private guide, who will use social distancing measures, to learn the history.
Granada is one of the last places in Spain that serves authentic tapas – that being, if you order a drink, you’ll get a side plate with a small snack. This could be anything, from olives to patatas bravas to roast ham – and generally the more drinks ordered, the more impressive the tapas plates will become!
The bars gradually reopened throughout May, and now nearly all of Granada’s tapas and wine bars are ready for business. It’s safest to choose restaurants with outdoor areas, and thankfully there are a lot in the year-round sunny city of Granada. All restaurants and bars in Spain have extra safety and sanitising methods, and you may be asked to sit at specific tables to maintain social distancing.
In the evening, you might want to hit up the nearby casino. These establishments aren’t naturally Covid friendly – the whole concept of casinos involves getting close to other people and touching communal items – but measures have been put into place to help visitors stay safe.
Casinos in Spain could open at 50 per cent capacity in Phase two, and in Phase three they could have up to 50 people in the venue, still with up to 50 per cent capacity. These rules are staying in place now the State of Alarm has been lifted.
Casino Admiral is a popular casino in Granada who has recently taken steps to make their venue safe during the time of Covid. They have ramped up their cleaning methods and have only opened certain areas to comply with social distancing. Other casinos in the city have followed suit.
That being said, while some casinos are taking steps to become more Covid friendly, many avid gamblers will very likely be sticking to online casinos until the risk of Covid goes away.
Hiking is a great Covid-friendly activity, as by its nature it promotes social distancing and being outside, where transmission of any germs is a lot less likely. Once Andalucia reached Phase three in early June, hiking within the Granada Province was allowed – and after the State of Alarm ended on June 21, hiking anywhere in the country is still allowed.
From Granada, the best place to go hiking is the nearby Sierra Nevada mountains. There are no restrictions on hiking currently, but face masks must be used on public transport.
Granada, with its unique history, amazing food, wonderful climate and beautiful streets and surroundings, are still worth visiting during these unprecedented times. The city largely relies on tourism, so visitors are likely to be welcomed; and with the range of things to do with social distancing measures, a trip to Granada could be a great addition to any summer plans!
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