24th April 2024
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Valencia in English – weekly news round-up (16 May)

Latest: Coronavirus in Spain figures (20 May)

Fallas in September

Valencia’s big festival, Las Fallas, is to take place in September, it was announced this week. The event, which normally takes place in March and attracts around a million visitors to the city each day, was cancelled in 2020 just as the celebrations were getting underway because the first State of Alarm was introduced, and the country went into lockdown. In March this year the Coronavirus situation meant celebrating the festival was still impossible, but now the regional health department has given the go-ahead to hold the festival in September, albeit a dumbed down version with strict Covid measures.

The planned dates are from 1-5 September, but there will probably be no mascletàs (the loud daytime fireworks displays) in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento. Instead mini-mascletàs and other events like the cremà (when the monuments are burnt on the final day of the festivities) will be held at each individual Falla, the idea being to avoid large crowds as much as possible.

One of the main events which is sure to be maintained is the Ofrenda de flores (where the falleros take flowers to the virgin). But new routes will have to be found as work is planned for the Plaza de la Reina during almost the whole of September, and the processions are likely to be spaced over many more days.

One thing is certain though, many more litres of water will be needed to keep the falleras hydrated, as the usual March sunshine is nothing compared to the heat in the city in the first days of September.

You can also read more about Las Fallas in in our ‘Valencia in English’ report of 21 March 2021.

Las Fallas
Catherine Dolan, her husband Juan and their daughters at Las Fallas in 2019.

Over 40s to be vaccinated in June

This week Valencia president Ximo Puig announced that those aged between 40 and 50 would be vaccinated from 17 June. The news comes after last week’s announcement that over 50s would be vaccinated in the first half of the same month.

For some this is confusing to say the least, as there are still some over 70s who have not yet been called, when the health department’s own website claims that vaccination of this group is complete.

One high profile example is that of Valencia’s Mayor, 73-year-old Joan Ribó who tweeted on Wednesday (12 May) that he hadn’t been called to have his vaccine yet. As luck would have it, the following morning, at 7.45am, he received a message with an appointment for that same day at 9am. He asked that no more people aged 73 and 74 be left in limbo and without being vaccinated. He also thanked the ‘fantastic health workers’ that attended him.

ALSO READ: Covid-19 Vaccinations in Spain

Trying to go ‘Green’

The UK recently published its list of countries according to its traffic light system. For the moment Spain is on the ‘Amber’ list, which means any British tourists coming here will have to quarantine for 10 days on their return to the UK, as well as having a negative PCR test before leaving Spain and two PCR tests once back in the UK, the cost of which must be met entirely by the traveller. The aim of Benidorm, which relies heavily on the UK tourist market, is to get onto the ‘Green’ list which would avoid the need for quarantining, and thus make Spain a much more attractive holiday option.

In an attempt to achieve this, Visit Benidorm have released a statement to the British media letting them know how safe Benidorm is and what has been done in relation to the pandemic. Benidorm City Council is still waiting to be received by the British Embassy in Madrid to explain the situation to them.

Meanwhile the debate has reached the parliament in Madrid as the Benidorm MP Agustin Almodóbar (PP) accused Pedro Sánchez’s government of ‘manifest inaction’ in its support of the tourism industry. In reply to this the Foreign Minister, Arancha González Laya, laid the blame clearly at the door of the Madrid region, and their recently re-elected populist leader Isabel Díaz Ayuso (PP), for having a high Coronavirus incidence rate due to less strict measures in the capital. The minister said the higher rate in Madrid brings up the national average and thus places the whole country on the UK’s Amber list.

Meanwhile the Valencia tourism department continues along the diplomatic route, trying to separate the Valencian region, and open a safe corridor, but they confirmed this week to Valencia Plaza newspaper that so far they had not been successful.

While rates are low in Valencia at the moment, who knows what will happen now that the regional perimeter has been re-opened and visitors can come from Madrid and other regions, especially with the arrival of warmer weather this weekend.

5,000 Valencia fans could finally return to the Mestalla Stadium on Sunday 16 May.
5,000 Valencia fans could finally return to the Mestalla Stadium on Sunday 16 May. (@Valenciacf / Twitter)

Fans to return to Mestalla 

On Thursday it was announced that Valencia CF would be opening its stadium to fans from today (Sunday) for the team’s match against Eibar, their penultimate of the season. Valencia finally won 4-1, so the presence of fans clearly helped!

In a long statement, the club set out the protocol for entering the stadium, as well as the process by which the 5,000 lucky fans would be chosen.

On Wednesday, Spain’s Minister for Culture and Sport, José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes had said that spectators would be allowed to return to stadiums to watch football matches, at 30% capacity, and only in areas with a Covid-19 incidence rate of less than 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. The Valencia region falls into this category.

Valencia region has highest number of Blue Flags as Spain tops the international list

Valencia is the region with the highest number of Blue Flags in the whole country, a total of 153, an increase on last year’s 148. Meanwhile Spain has been awarded a total of 713, which is 25 more than last year.

Tuesday saw the annual awarding of Blue Flags for clean beaches, according to European standards, which will be flown from June.

You can click here for the full list of Spain’s Blue Flags, by region. The three main Benidorm beaches – Levante, Poniente and Mal Pas – have all received their Blue Flags and this week the city announced that its beaches would be open from 7am to 10.30pm and divided up into plots like last year.

Blue Flags in Benidorm. (Benidorm.org)
Blue Flags in Benidorm. (Benidorm.org)

Coronavirus in numbers

According to figures released by the regional health department, there have been 675 new cases of Coronavirus, compared to 915 last week, and 1,769 all-clears, compared to 2,247 last week.

There have also been 29 deaths recorded, although only nine of those occurred during the past seven days, while the rest relate to previous weeks and months. Last week there were 48 deaths recorded with six occurring during the previous seven days.

As of Friday, there were 155 people in the region’s hospitals, down on last week’s 198, with 35 people needing intensive care treatment, also down on the previous week’s 49.

Click here for all reports on Coronavirus in Spain

Celebrating a year of Valencia in English

A year ago, in the midst of lockdown, a new weekly column began bringing you highlights of the news in Valencia, and we’d like to say a big thank you to the thousands of readers who visit our news site each week. Knowing we’re providing a service makes it all worthwhile. If there’s anything you’d like to tell us about, things you’d like to read more about, please let us know in the comments box below. Here’s to the next 12 months!

'Welcome to Valencia in English'
‘Welcome to Valencia in English’ – from 14 May 2020.

Click here for all our reports from the Valencia Region

ALSO READ: Details of restrictions for all regions of Spain, now ‘State of Alarm’ has ended 

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