Madrid’s relaxed lockdown rules are attracting tourists from all over Europe

Madrid’s relaxed lockdown rules are attracting tourists from all over Europe

As Europe continues to enforce social distancing rules and impose new lockdowns to tackle another wave of COVID-19, Madrid is looking rather appealing.

Given the new relaxed rules, hundreds of tourists are flocking to the Spanish capital for a taste of what travel used to be before the pandemic struck.

They’re coming to soak up some sun and take a break from the COVID-19 fatigue affecting the rest of the continent. Bars, restaurants, and cafes are busy. Life, for the moment at least, is showing some semblance of being normal.

It’s perhaps a risky if calculated move.

While cities in other European countries, including Italy, return to strickter lockdown measures, Madrid has taken a rather unusual approach compared to its peers in opening up the tourism and hospitality industry, a sector that employs some 13 per cent of Spain’s workforce.

With four million people jobless in the country at the moment, the capital is trying to strike a balance between public health priorities and stimulating the stagnating local economy.

While it may be a good thing for businesses and jobs, the arrival of hordes of foreign travellers is posing a headache for the authorities.

Madrid’s police chief, José Luis Morcillo, says tourists are coming from across Europe. “[They are] not only French nationals but from other parts too,” he said. “They come in groups, and in some cases, they party in their apartments. That creates some problems”.

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