This is a personal message from Lex and Alex at Gran Canaria Info.
It has been a loooong year since the first lockdown and the collapse of tourism here in the Canary Islands. During this period we have done our best to provide accurate and useful information about a wide range of subjects; travel restrictions, Covid rules, mask use, migrants, more migrants, etc. We feel like we have done a good job overall and we hope the majority of you do too.
However, we also know that we have, at different times, annoyed a lot of people. Many of them haven't been shy about telling exactly why and most of the time we appreciated the communication and honesty. We did remove a small number of people from the group and from the page for consistently being rude to us and/ or other members, and for sharing fringe beliefs such as "Covid doesn't exist", "you are all sheeple", "the chemtrails did it", "migrants should be thrown in the sea", etc. Life is just too short!
Back during the first lockdown we warned that Covid was going to take at least a year to sort out (based on official government estimates and the scienfitic consensus on vaccine development) and were heavily criticised for being negative. Unfortunately, we were right and even now in April of 2021, tourism is still at very low levels and even the optimists don't expect summer numbers to be above 50% of pre-Covid figures.
We also covered the ever-changing mask, distancing and travel rules imposed by the Canary Islands, Spain and other countries in as much detail as we could. We were shouted at for encouraging people to follow "the stupid rules" and shouted at for not being strident enough about getting people to follow them. We have been frustrated at times by the many rule changes and by the need to wear masks at all times outdoors. However, we have also seen that there has been very little conflict here between the people and the police because of the simple mask rules.
We also got the standard Brexit outrage from people at both ends of the argument. We were either too pro-Europe or too anti-Britain, or too pro-Britain and anti-Europe. For the record, as foreign residents living in Spain, we believe that the EU is a good idea despite its flaws.
As for vaccines, we are in favour. We plan to be in the queue for ours with a bag of ice and a bottle of rum as soon as possible (even Lex, who very likely had Covid back in February 2020). Not everyone agrees with us about this either.
We have allowed plenty of debate in the Gran Canaria Info group but it really isn't the place for endless arguments so we have also deleted a lot of posts.
It is our deeply-held belief that there is no grown-up or friendly way of calling us or anyone else in the group "sheeple".
Then the migrants hit the headlines and all hell broke loose...
As we said, fun, fun, fun in the sun!
Migrants have arrived on Gran Canaria's shores in small boats for 25 years but they only became a story in 2020 due to Covid and messy Spanish politics.
Our position was and still is that the people arriving in Gran Canaria should be treated with dignity and allowed to continue on their journey as soon as possible. Almost all of them come with the dream of working to provide for their families back at home. None of the migrants arriving in the Canary Islands want to stay here. They all have a destination in mind somewhere in mainland Europe. Many have borrowed money from family and friends to get to the islands and feel huge pressure to move on and start earning.
To give a bit of context to this, here is a single statistic; those lucky enough to work in one of Senegal's fish processing factories make the equivalent of one dollar per day.
Whatever your politics and beliefs about migration, the migrant's interests and the interests of the Canary Islands are pretty much the same. It is in all of our best interests for them to be allowed to continue to migrate from the Islands to mainland Spain and Europe. Why? Because as we saw this autumn, the Canary Islands do not have, and shouldn't need to have, the facilities to house thousands of people. Spain and Europe both have agreements in place to process and house migrants. and while Covid did make things harder, the only reason these agreements didn't work was due to politics. As one Spanish minister said, the Canary Islands were used "like a cork in the bottle" to stop migrants reaching Spain.
To us, this idea that treating people badly stops them dreaming is absurd.
Almost all migrants have now been moved out of Gran Canaria's resorts and there isn't any reason why the islands will need to house migrants in resort areas again. Even at the peak of the wave almost all the migrants housed in resort areas behaved well despite the lurid press reports in Europe's tabloid press.
That said, we do aknowledge that many people living in areas like Puerto Rico experienced serious disruption from migrants housed in empty complexes. There were serious crimes, including a rape, committed by migrants and the noise and disturbance in some areas was considerable and constant.
But the theory that the migrants have caused Gran Canaria's resorts to be empty, or will cause them to be empty in the future is pretty thin. Gran Canaria's resorts are empty due to Covid, not the migrants. And once Covid travel restrictions end, tourists coming back will find Gran Canaria is the same as always (better in the case of Puerto Rico thanks to the new malls and the refurbished main shopping centre).
We make no apology for our position about the migrants. The fact that the islands have handled the migrants with dignity and respect is to our credit. We believe that the vast majority of people who want to come back to Gran Canaria will understand that the islands dealt with a difficult situation pretty well.
We hope to see you all on the beach again very soon.
With travel just starting back up after Coronavirus lockdowns all over Europe, lots of people are asking if it is a good idea to travel to Gran Canaria on holiday. For many people summer and autumn of 2020 are an excellent time to come on holiday to Gran Canaria.
The beaches are quiet in a good way, hotels are relaxed and not crowded, plenty of shops and restaurants are open and more open up every day.
Members of our Gran Canaria Facebook Group have already arrived in Gran Canaria and shared their experiences. They are almost all completely positive...
"Dont be put off coming here, we flew from Luton yesterday, the flight is actually alot more pleasent with restrictions in place, more space on the plane & the staff are extra helpful.
Everyone has been welcoming in Mogán and we've been greeted with open arms, restaurants are table service (which i prefer) the beaches are open, shops are open as long as you wear a mask inside, restaurants a mask isnt needed. If i was you id get over here while its still quiet to be honest its been amazing".
"Here for almost two weeks now. Its very relaxed, not many tourists yet. If you like to go wild and searching for nightlife think you may be at the wrong spot at this moment.And the mask wearing is very good to do. Just follow the rules and its all ok. More things opened the last few days, so that good progress"
"Places are slowly opening up, some hotels restaurants and bars. The weather is very hot and it's good to see people arriving on the island again"
Let's have a look at some of the main concerns about travelling to Gran Canaria in 2020
My insurance isn't valid: Many insurance companies have changed their terms and conditions so it is definitely worth checking that yours covers Coronavirus-related issues. There are insurers that offer decent coverage. ASDA in the UK seems to offer a good policy at the moment.
You have to have a Covid-19 test? At the moment all you need to visit Gran Canaria fill in this online form and download or print the QR code it generates. Do it within 48 hours of travelling.
Flights keep getting cancelled: Ryanair, EasyJet and WizzAir seem to be following their schedules well but there have been some cancellations. These will get rarer as the travel industry gets going agian.
Traveling by plane is dangerous: There is little evidence that people catch Covid-19 on planes. They have high-quality air filters and airflow that prevents droplets from spreading within the cabin.
Spain has lots of Coronavirus: Parts of Spain was hit hard by the initial wave of the virus but it reacted well and levels are now low and dropping all over the country. In Gran Canaria the virus never really got into the population and the island always had one of the lowest Covid-19 levels in Europe.
We'll need to wear masks all the time: You only have to wear masks in Gran Canaria when you can't stay more then 1.5 metres from other people. Basically this means that you only have to wear them in shops, supermarkets and indoor areas of hotels where people tend to gather. You don't have to wear them around the pool, by the beach or walking around outdoors. Read our a guide to evefrything you need to know about masks and distancing in Gran Canaria.
Nothing is open in Gran Canaria: Half the hotels in the Canary Islands will be open in August and many apartment and bungalow complexes are already open. Shops are mostly open and more restaurants and bars open every day. You won't be wandering around a ghost resort because the locals are taking advantage of the summer to visit, and tourists are now flying in every day. Hotel swimming pools and beaches are open.
My accommodation isn't open: This is a genuine concern as some places shut down completely and aren't answering their email. Some travel agencies are also struggling to contact the places they have booked guests into. We've put together a list of places that we know are open and suggest that you try to contact your hotel or bungalow via Facebook, email and the telephone. As places get ready to open they start top check their emails and answer the phone. If you plan to book, contact the hotel or apartment before you book via a travel agency as some are taking bookings without checking opening dates.
If you are after a party-holiday with dancing until dawn, you should probably wait for a year or so before coming to Gran Canaria. But if you want a relaxing holiday in the sun with plenty to see and do, it might just be the best time ever to visit Gran Canaria.
Outdoors: Masks are necessary in outdoor public places where you can not maintain a DISTANCE OF 1.5 metres FROM OTHER PEOPLE (excluding the people you are living/staying with).
So with consideration it is possible to move around in many areas WITHOUT a mask on.
Indoors: Masks are now obligatory in all indpoor public places even if you are alone. Places like shops, restaurant toilets, malls, receptions areas, offices, etc.
Alway carry a mask with you when you go out as you never know when it might be needed.
If you end up in a situation where you should have on a mask but are not wearing one, the fines start from 100 euros up to 30,000 (Ley de la Seguridad Cuidadana - and yes there have been over 600,000 sanctions issued under this law since the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak in Spain for 'disobedience or resistance of authority').
Recommended masks can easily be purchased in a pharmacy and in some supermarkets. Prices start from under 1 Euro.
Fabric masks (those that provide the same level of protection as the recommended masks) can also be purchased and used but also check they fit correctly (firmly) around your mouth and nose.
Mask are mandatory for everyone six years or older and are recommended for 3 to 5 year olds. Under 3 years not required.
If for medical reasons you can not wear a mask you must carry with you a medical exemption letter from your doctor.
An option for those people may be a face visor, not ideal but better than nothing for the wearer and the people around them. Also before travelling check with your airline about thier in-flight mask requirements. I only looked at Easyjet and thier FAQs said "If you are unable to wear a face mask for medical reasons you will be exempt from doing so as long as you have a medical exemption letter from a doctor stating that you cannot wear a face mask (which must be available on request for airport staff and crew to see) and also that you are fit to fly".
People don't need to wear masks when 'eating and drinking' in bars and restaurants. You do have to wear then when you head to your table and while ordering your first drink or food. When it arrives you can take the mask off.
You still need to use a mask in common areas such as the corridor/toilets (where you can't maintain the 1.5m distance).
People will need use hand sanitizer at the entrance of a bar or restaurant and to wait to be seated (their table cleaned before they sit down). Table service - bars and restaurants have to operate 'table service'.
Menus - Traditional format menu cards are not currently allowed. You may find 'QR codes' to access the menu online, printed menus on disposible place mats or, menus displayed on the wall. Some restaurants also provide throwaway meus on paper.
Generally they require wearing of mask and use hand sanitizer when entering a shop, office, bank, pharmacy, shopping centre or supermarket.
Many shops do not allow clothes to be tried-on in the shop, but do allow items to be returned if not suitable.
Supermarkets - Some are very strict and have expectations of how there customers will behave.
You MUST wear a mask.
You MUST wear the supplied disposible gloves when handling fruit and veg.
At the checkouts only one person served at a time. It will something like:
- Queue with the required distancing.
- When it is your turn, i.e. only after the person in front of you's shopping has been scanned. Put your trolley or basket by the END of the conveyor belt and unload it from there.
- Do not move forward until the person in front of you has completely finished and taken away thier bags. Then go right through to the other end and load your bags. They prefer payment by card (contactless or with pin).
Banks - Check opening hours, many have only limited times open to the public, the remainder of the day will be 'by apointment'. ATM machines are working as normal.
On the beach - Check and respect the rules of each municipality, and keep a 1.5 metre distance between you and other people/groups. Any equipment/sunbeds must be cleaned before and after each use. Popular beaches have information boards posted by the entrances with specific rules.
Hotel and Community pools - will have limited capacity and rules to follow in addition to the 1.5m rule. Make sure you know the rules if you use them.
Each will have its own internal rules. Ask for them when you arrive. Wear a MASK in busy common areas such as reception and lifts.
All establishments have a capacity limits of the number of people allowed.
If full to capacity, you will be asked to wait. Although I have not happen very often.
Masks must be worn on all public transport and in taxis and private buses. Also in all Spanish airports and bus stations.
Cars - If you own or hire a car and if any person in that car is not staying in the same accomodation, then everyone in the car must be wearing a mask and you must sit yourselves in seats with the maximum distance possible between each other (these seating rules also apply to passengers in a taxi)
Airports - In the Spanish airports there are no baggage trolleys. The shops and cafes inside the airport are mostly closed. Duty free and one cafe may be open.
Car hire desks are open. ATMs are working. Toilets are open.
There are vending machines for water and snacks (taking cash or cards).
If people from different households gather together, they must all wear masks. Any organised events will have special arrangements for distancing. Many local fiesta events have been cancelled
When directly talking face to face with anyone who is a stranger/cashier/official, they WILL expect you to be wearing your obligatory mask.
Many residents are concerned about visitors arriving and not following all of these current health based rules. Rules that are there for the benefit of everyone, resident or visitor.
Despite the rules there is every opportunity to welcome people here to have a lovely safe holiday in the sun.
So, PLEASE PLEASE, ALL VISITORS RESPECT THESE RULES. They are there to keep everyone healthy and virus free.
Residents have just spent 3 months living with very tough strict 'Spanish Lockdown Rules' and now the virus is under control here.
It would be so unfair to see all that effort ruined by visitors not following these current rules that do allow you to move around freely and safely.
Even if you see someone else not wearing a mask. Please don't think it means that it is not necessay, because the status of this island as a safe place to visit and to live will very quickly deteriorate.
Thank you Amanda Ockwell for the considerable amount of work that went into writying this guide and thank you again for letting us share it.
There were no new cases of Coronavirus reported yesterday in Gran Canaria or anywhere in the Canary Islands for the first time since March 8, according to the local press..
The Maspalomas sand dunes have recovered their pristine natural form after six weeks of lockdown in Gran Canaria.
The Spanish Government has announced the national timetable that governs the relaxation of quarantine rules. The lockdown will end over the next 8 weeks in four different phases. Each phase lasts for a minimum of two weeks meaning that Spain returns to normality (within the confines of social distancing) by the end of June.
Children in Gran Canaria left their homes for the first time in six weeks on Sunday 26, April in the first relaxation of Spain's strict Coronavirus lock down. If virus cases keep dropping, adults will follow them on May 2nd for short periods of exercise.
The President of the Canary Islands government, Ángel Vïctor Torres, has announced an ambitious calendar for the reopening of hotels, arguing that the islands cannot afford to wait any longer.
After six weeks of total lockdown, children under 12 are to be allowed out of their homes from April 27 after the Spanish Government announced the first tentative steps towards lifting the national State of Alarm.