OVIEDO, Spain 

An increasing number of European tourists are flocking to Spain to escape restrictive coronavirus lockdowns, even though most Spaniards are still unable to travel domestically.

On Tuesday, Irish airline Ryanair announced it was adding around 200 extra flights between Germany and Spain during Easter week, joining Lufthansa and other airlines to boost service between the two nations.

The surge came after Germany removed Spain’s Balearic Islands from its list of risk areas over the weekend.

Although the islands are preparing for a surge in international tourists over Easter, Spanish tourists will not be welcome.

During the weeks surrounding Easter, all Spanish regions will forbid residents from leaving or entering unless they have justified reasons like work or an emergency. At the moment, most Spanish regions have closed their internal borders.

Residents in Madrid, in particular, have also noticed a recent spike in French tourists looking for an escape from local restrictions.

“Here we can enjoy bars, life. What we do here we can’t do in France,” one tourist told local daily Nuis this weekend.

Two weekends ago, an analysis of cell phones found that 2,560 French tourists were in Madrid – the highest figure since the COVID-19 pandemic began, according to local media reports.

Madrid has some of the loosest restrictions in Europe. Bars and even nightclubs are open until curfew starts at 11 p.m. local time, whereas in France, curfew begins at 6 p.m. local time and bars and restaurants remain closed.

If arriving by plane, French visitors have to present a negative coronavirus test result, but they may enter Spain by road without presenting any documentation.

However, Spain still has extra restrictions on UK flights over concerns of the more contagious variant, even though the strain has already become dominant across much of Spain.

Despite Spain’s relatively lax measures, coronavirus infections remain low. On Tuesday, the country reported 4,962 new cases – a similar number compared to the same day last week.

Another 141 people were also reported dead from COVID-19, 150 fewer than one week ago.

Spain temporarily paused the AstraZeneca vaccine on Monday, and has administered 5.7 million vaccine doses in total.

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