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Fines up to €6,000 for travellers to Spain arriving without negative PCR test



Tourists and travellers arriving in Spain from ‘high-risk’ countries after 23 November without a negative PCR test, may be fined up to €6,000 in addition to having to undergo a rapid test as a measure to guarantee safe mobility, the Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya has said.

‘They are serious fines, dissuasive fines,’ she also stressed, in statements to Antena 3 when asked about the new measures recently announced by the Ministry of Health. You can also read our full report here: Spain to require visitors from high-risk countries to present negative PCR tests.

The new measure is being introduced in addition to the health controls already performed on all inbound passengers at ports and airports in Spain – specifically temperature controls and visual checks.

The current ‘Health Control Form’, which all passengers must fill in before entering Spain, will now include a question regarding whether they can produce a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to their arrival. Proof of this test result may be requested from passengers at any time. The document must be original, drafted in Spanish or English, and may be submitted on paper or in an electronic format.

According to the Spanish government’s website, ‘If the form has not been filled in online, using the code generated on the website, or the Spain Travel Health-SpTH app, it may be presented on paper before departure. In this case, it must be accompanied by the original document certifying the diagnostic test.’

Passengers whose temperature, visual or documentary checks indicate that they could be suffering from Covid-19 will then also be required to undergo a diagnostic test taken at the airport or port on their arrival in Spain.

González Laya also said that international mobility has only meant ‘0.08% of Covid-19 imports’ – adding that out of the 5,200,000 travellers who have entered Spain since July, ‘barely 4,800 have tested positive’.

‘Looking at the numbers this is not a problem,’ she said, ‘but we have to make sure it is not in the future.’ She insisted that the new measure aims to ‘create trust’ and be able to ‘gradually open up spaces for mobility’ that are safe.

For visitors arriving from EU countries or from those within the Schengen area, the criteria for a country of high risk will be determined by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). The ECDC publishes weekly maps with the current risk status of each country using a traffic light system of green, orange or red, as determined by the 14-day incidence and positivity rates of Covid-19.

For all other countries, the reference to evaluate risk will be 150 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days, according to criteria of the World Health Organization (WHO).

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Will tourism rebound on Cape Cod in 2021? Local businesses hope vaccines will speed recovery




During a typical summer, Falmouth Museums on the Green, home to the Falmouth Historical Society, brims with visitors looking to sneak a peek inside its many historical homes, gather for weddings or explore its many exhibits.

But the COVID-19 pandemic changed all of that. The museums remained closed for 2020, moving their speaker series online.

“For obvious reasons, it has been a year to remember, to forget,” said Mark Schmidt, the museums’ executive director.

The museums were set to open when the state allowed for Phase III businesses to do so, Schmidt said. With hand sanitizer available, plexiglass barriers and arrows in place to lead visitors, they were ready to go by the end of July.

But in the end,  the decision was made not to reopen for the season, Schmidt said. The museums mostly are run by 200 volunteers, many of them older, and they didn’t want to run the risk of exposure to the coronavirus, he said. They also didn’t want to cram people into historic houses.

Instead, the board of directors decided to wait to reopen until the COVID-19 vaccines arrived, Schmidt said.

“There is no question it took a toll on us,” Schmidt said. “We were fortunate that our members were supportive in their giving.”

With funding in place for this year, Schmidt said, he believes the museum will make it until next summer. But he said that if 2021 and 2022 are anything like 2020, it will be hard to sustain.

“We will go forward with the fact that 2021 can’t be as bad as 2020,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt is optimistic that tourists will return to Falmouth and the rest of the cape next summer.

“I do think that there is a basic fatigue of being inside.”

But “I don’t think masks are going away anytime soon,” he said.

Despite the pandemic, the cape had the best performance in the state for tourism this past summer. Wendy Northcross, CEO of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, said the cape can expect the same next year.

“I know it is so hard to look into the crystal ball these days,” Northcross said. “There is some good news coming our way.”

As vaccines begin to roll out across the country, many people are flocking to the Cape to escape  the cities and visit their second homes, Northcross said. Plus, people who haven’t been traveling want to do so, she said.

If they can make it through the winter, Northcross said, businesses in the tourism industry have reason to be somewhat optimistic.

Now that the cape has survived a summer under COVID-19 restrictions, businesses understand the constraints and can plan better, Northcross said.

“I am a lot more optimistic than I think I should be,” she said when asked how tourism will go this spring and summer. “There are certainly challenges to get there.”

The ability to make it to next summer may depend on how much stimulus money makes its way to local businesses, Northcross said.

“Nobody knows how long this is going to go,” she said. “More stimulus is going to help bridge the gap.”

Tourism is fickle, said Elizabeth Wurfbain, executive director of Hyannis Main Street Business Improvement District. There are many hurdles to overcome, she said, including weather and financial stability, even during a normal year,.

The cape was lucky this year because the weather allowed for people to eat outside, Wurfbain said.

“We don’t know what the spring is going to look like,” she said. “No one has a magic ball. Even as the pandemic has some solutions with the vaccines, how long is it going to take to work out? When is it going to go back to when people want to spend?”

With tourist-driven businesses in peril, Wurfbain said, there needs to be support for the unemployed workers and assistance for those businesses. But like Northcross, she is optimistic about tourism coming back next year.

“I do see it doing well because Cape Cod is poised so well as a beautiful place to live,” Wurfbain said. “It is not super expensive, very wholesome and easy to get to. But I am cautious.”

The Osterville Historical Museum, which holds weddings, rehearsal dinners and large fundraising events throughout the year, had to rrethink much of what it did this year.

“I think that this year for everybody was such a different year, and we really focused on the things that we could do instead of all the things that we couldn’t do,” said Jennifer Williams, the museum’s executive director. “I think that made all the difference.”

Beginning in March, the museum helped to set up a virtual farmers market, allowing fresh local produce to be delivered to residents on Cape Cod. When summer approached, the traditional farmers market set up at the museum was opened as well, with social distancing and guidelines set up on the 2-acre property.

“We had to twist a few other things and morph as we needed,” Williams said.

Instead of holding a large, in-person fundraising event, museum staff moved its traditional art online, selling work from local artists, Williams said.

As winter approached, the annual Festival of Trees show was moved to the historic Crosby Yacht Yard, where large bay doors could open for better air circulation. Eleven decorated trees lined the wooden boats, Williams said.

The museum’s admission is free,  Williams said, which puts it in a unique position to move into next year.

Tourism in Osterville already was on the high end this year, Williams said, with many people arriving at their second homes as early as March. She believes that will only continue next year.

“Everything is still very unknown in terms of what we can and cannot do for next year,” Williams said. “Moving forward we are expecting things to be as normal, or as normal as they can be.”

Tourism was deeply affected by the pandemic this year in Bourne, known as the Gateway to Cape Cod, according to Marie Oliva, president and CEO of the Cape Cod Canal Region Chamber of Commerce.

Many large festivals, including Cape Cod Canal Day, had to be canceled and weekly outdoor concerts had to be stopped, Oliva said. Those activities typically attract a lot of people to the region, she said.

Whether tourism will return next year is a big question mark for Oliva.

“It is very difficult to plan when you don’t have specific information on when things might turn around,” she said.

Provincetown also had a very different tourism experience this year. All the nightlife was turned off, except for a few outdoor venues, and everyone was restricted to small group gatherings.

Tourism in town went much better than expected, said Anthony Fuccillo, the town’s director of tourism. Despite no parades or large group activities, a lot of people visited town, he said.

With the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines, Fuccillo said, he is optimistic about next year.

“People have been cooped up and want to bust out of their four walls,” Fuccillo said.

Still, many things are uncertain, Fuccillo said. He believes people will continue to wear masks and group gatherings will be limited all the way to the end of 2021.

“I think we will see it come back, but not back to what it was,” Fuccillo said. “Not quite yet.”

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Embarking on Magellan and Elcano’s first journey around the world




On December 10, 1520, an expedition led by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and Spanish navigator Juan Sebastián Elcano crossed what is now the Straits of Magellan, bringing it to the brink of the unexplored vastness of the Pacific Ocean. Five centuries later, Google has brought its entire technological arsenal to bear to celebrate the fifth centenary of what was the first journey around the world.

In collaboration with the Spanish Culture Ministry and the Spanish National Commission of the First Trip Around the World, Google Arts & Culture has launched a digital platform that examines the details of the three-year voyage, which lasted from 1519 to 1522, and its impact on Europe’s understanding of the enormity of the planet, using a thousand images, 73 digital features and the support of 12 cultural institutions.

Dubbed “The First Round-the-World Trip,” the initiative invites online users from all over the world to immerse themselves in the minutiae of the journey and accompany the protagonists on their route with reference to historical documents and maps as well as visiting a replica of the Victoria – the only ship to make it back. It also introduces us to the communities we would find at the explorers’ various destinations if we were making the same journey today.

“The exhibition is divided into three sections that try to explain not only the naval adventure but also the before and after – its consequences, which are evident today,” says a Google Arts & Culture spokesman. The first section, called Expedition, tells us about the preparations for the trip, giving detailed descriptions of the five ships, their crews, their protagonists and the historical context in which the journey took shape. The Exploration section shows the maps and instruments used by the explorers, and the flora and fauna they encountered along the way. Finally, the Transformation section analyzes the legacy of the voyage, which, in the words of the organizers, left “a spherical world connected by oceans, cultural and social exchanges and trade.”

Seville and Sanlúcar de Barrameda in the 16th century

The illustrator Arturo Redondo has provided two interactive maps that allow users to explore the two points of departure, Seville and Sanlúcar de Barrameda, in 1519.

On August 10, 1519, the expedition led by Portuguese explorer Magellan and Basque explorer Elcano left the port of Seville. Its goal was to seek a new westward route toward the Moluccas or Spice Islands in Indonesia. The expedition involved five ships – the Trinidad, the San Antonio, the Victoria, the Concepción and the Santiago – and a collective crew of 245 sailors, including Castilians, Portuguese, Greeks, French, Italians, Belgians, English and Germans. The only ship to return to Seville in 1522 was the Victoria, captained by Elcano. It came back with 35 men on board after a 1,084-day voyage covering 46,270 nautical miles – about 85,700 kilometers, which is more than twice the Earth’s circumference. The ship’s reappearance at its port of departure was empirical proof that the oceans were interconnected and that the Earth was round. “We have discovered and rounded all the roundness of the world,” Elcano wrote to King Charles V of Spain from Sanlúcar de Barrameda on his return.

A virtual walk through a replica of the Victoria

The replica of the Victoria is 26 meters long and six meters wide. It can be visited digitally, with a 360º view, thanks to Google’s Street View technology. The tour includes its sails (six, with a total area of 286 square meters), the hold, the deck and main mast and the forecastle.

The route

Users can trace the voyage on a detailed map: the journey along the African coast; the arrival on November 29, 1519, in Brazil with a stopover in Santa Lucía Bay in what is now Río de Janeiro; and the journey through the Tierra del Fuego, which was named after the bonfires lit by the native Indians. On November 28, 1520, the ships TrinidadConcepción and Victoria found their way to the South Sea via what is now known as the Straits of Magellan, which are 565 kilometers long. It took 38 days to cross and took them from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

After 100 days crossing the biggest ocean on the planet, they arrived at the Mariana Islands east of the Philippines and south of Japan; on April 27, 1521, Magellan died in battle, in Cebu in the Philippines; on November 8, 1521, two years and three months after leaving Spain, the expedition arrived in the Moluccas Islands in Indonesia. On January 25, 1522, Elcano set out for home on the last surviving ship from Timor on a direct journey westward across the Indian Ocean. In the spring of that year, he rounded the Cape of Good Hope. Afterwards, he would reach Cape Verde and the Canary Islands. And, on September 8, he docked in Seville.

Mapping the New World

The Google Arts & Culture collection has managed to reproduce high quality cartographic maps that show the transformation of Europe’s vision of the planet after Elcano and Magellan’s expedition. For example, Juan Vespucio’s 1526 map already incorporates the Straits of Magellan, although he calls it Sant Anton.


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Which countries have banned travel to and from the UK due to the new Coronavirus mutation?




Several countries have closed their borders to the UK after a new, more infectious variant of the COVID-19 virus was discovered in the south-east of England.

France closed its borders to arrivals from the UK on Sunday after Prime Minister Boris Johnson placed London and the southeast under new Tier 4 restrictions – the toughest level of COVID-19 restrictions in the UK which includes a ‘stay at home’ order.

More countries are halting flights to and from the UK every day. The aim is to prevent the spread of this more infectious strain of coronavirus.European leaders are meeting in Brussels on Monday to discuss the new variant.

So what does this mean for travel to and from the UK?

We’ve got all the information you need to know and we’ll be updating this page as the situation changes.

Can I travel from the UK?

Most of the UK is subject to the highest COVID-19 alert levels (Tiers 3 and 4). The UK government advises people not to travel outside of their local area and to avoid all but essential international travel.

Which countries have banned travel to and from the UK?

France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, Austria, Denmark, Ireland, and Bulgaria were among those who on Sunday announced widespread restrictions on flights from the UK following Boris Johnson’s announcement on Sunday.

Canada and India are among the latest countries to halt arrivals from the UK, following the lead of many in Europe.


All modes of travel and freight to and from the UK has been banned until at least Wednesday 23 December.

The move from France has added further pressure to the backlog of traffic at both ends of the English channel.


All flights have been halted to and from the UK until at least Thursday 31 December. No other modes of transport have been affected, and arrivals to Germany will need to self-isolate for 10 days.


Italy has suspended all flights to and from the UK until 6 January.

The Italian Ministry of Health has banned arrivals from other countries if they have been in the UK in the previous 14 days.

Additionally, anybody already in Italy who was in the UK 14 days prior to 20 December must take a rapid COVID-19 test immediately. These measures remain in place until 6 January.


Flights between the Netherlands and the UK have been suspended until 1 January.

The ban does not currently apply to other modes of transport, but the Dutch government is keeping an eye on this and regularly reviewing the situation.

All but essential travel has been advised against in the Netherlands, and arrivals must self-isolate for 10 days.

If you’re returning to the UK from the Netherlands, you will need to self-isolate.


Belgium imposed a 24 hour ban on travel to and from the UK following Boris Johnson’s announcement on Sunday 20 December.

The UK government has advised anybody planning on travelling to Belgium to be prepared to stay abroad longer than planned if the situation changes.

You’ll need to self-isolate on your return to the UK from Belgium.


Flights from the UK to Poland have been banned until further notice after Sunday’s announcement by the UK government.

From 28 December, you’ll have to self-isolate if you: enter Poland via public transport, have coronavirus symptoms or have been in contact with somebody who has.

If you’re planning on being in Poland for New Year, there is a planned curfew from 7pm on 31 December until 6am on 1 January. Travel or movement will be banned during this time.


Flights to Austria from the UK have been banned from 22 December until 31 December.

If you are arriving from a country not on Austria’s travel corridor list, you’ll be asked to self-isolate.

Travel between the UK and non-EU countries


India has suspended all flights from the UK until further notice.


All but essential travel has been advised against in Canada and arrivals from the UK have been banned until further notice.

All cruise ship travel outside of Canada has also been advised against.

The Canadian authorities are also warning people that repatriation flights to Canada are not guaranteed if they choose to travel despite the advice.

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