The policy comes into effect this week.

By Meena Thiruvengadam
August 06, 2020
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Here’s one thing travelers visiting the Canary Islands can cross off their list of potential coronavirus worries: the cost of medical care and mandatory quarantines on the islands.

The local government in the Canary Islands is partnering with French insurer Axa to provide Spanish and foreign tourists with free insurance coverage for any coronavirus-related costs, The New York Times reports. The policies will cover accommodations for mandatory quarantines as well as the potentially high costs of getting travelers back home.

Like all insurance policies, there are exclusions. Any pre-existing health conditions, for example, won’t be covered. That includes cases of COVID-19 diagnosed before travel to the Canary Islands.

The move is part of an effort to reassure tourists and lure them back to this Spanish archipelago 62 miles west of Morocco. Yaiza Castilla, the government official who oversees tourism in the Canary Islands, described it as a bet on the archipelago’s economic recovery in a video posted to her Twitter account.

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A spike in infections on the mainland has pushed governments in the U.K. and Switzerland to impose mandatory quarantines on travelers from Spain. Switzerland didn’t include the autonomously governed Canary Islands on its list of countries from which to require quarantine, but the U.K. — whose tourists are a backbone of the local economy — did.

While Spain has had more than 306,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 28,000 deaths, the Canary Islands has seen 2,600 infections and 162 deaths. Still, tourists have been slow to return, leaving hotel beds and restaurant tables sitting empty and normally buzzing beachfronts eerily quiet.

The Canary Islands are currently open to travelers from the Schengen area without quarantine. Masks are required for those over six years old, bars are operating at a reduced capacity, and social distancing guidelines are in place.