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COVID-19: Mallorca’s businesses desperate for British tourists to return | World News



Think of Magaluf and your mind starts spinning with chaotic images of raucous summer holidays.

Even if you haven’t been there, it is a word synonymous with parties, sunshine and boozy breaks; of lurid tales about drunk British teenagers collapsing on the beach.

But today, as I walk along the Magaluf sand, it all looks very different – peaceful and relaxing. The sea is an enticing light blue, the sun is beating down, and the beach is almost deserted. A few isolated sunbathers, a couple of young children strolling down together and a family group looking through their bags for snacks.

It is all disarmingly genteel. And that, of course, is the problem that now faces resorts like this one.

Tourists sunbathe and swim at the beach of Magaluf on the island of Mallorca, Spain, in 2017
Before the pandemic Magaluf was a popular destination with Britons seeking parties, sunshine and boozy breaks

Magaluf should be getting busy, with bars and restaurants filling up. Instead, walking around its streets is like being in some kind of disaster movie, where a town is left deserted. When the sun is out, a tourist town without tourists feels odd.

Along one quiet street, Alfonso Sanchez is inside his deserted supermarket. He has run it for decades, but never known a time like this.

He tells me that, in normal times, he would be dealing with hundreds of customers per day. Now, he hasn’t bothered opening up, let alone stacking the shelves. There is nobody to sell to.

What he, and the rest of Magaluf’s businesses want, is the return of the British tourist trade.

Alfonso Sánchez ¬– Supermarket Owner
Alfonso Sanchez says the economy is ready to re-start

“Well, here we are prepared to open when we can,” he tells me.

“We just need just 10 days. As soon as we know – in any way – that we can guarantee that a system is going to work, then I think we can be open in 10 days.

“We are ready to work. All the workers are waiting to work. Businessmen are ready to open their businesses. We have passed a very bad year and we are ready to re-start.”

But he knows that the key to all this is a sense of security for visitors. Across Europe there are people pining for a beach holiday, but plenty need reassurance that the resorts are safe.

“The most important thing is that we control the pandemic,” says Mr Sanchez, with a nod.

“I think that is the key to the question. If we don’t have control of the pandemic then it would be very difficult to have a usual season. People have to feel safe. If they don’t feel safe, they won’t leave home to come here.”

Diego Belmonte, The Chippy restaurant owner in Magaluf
Diego Belmonte owns a takeaway and is a veteran of the Magaluf scene

A short walk from the sea, Diego Belmonte is sitting outside his takeaway shop. It was founded 50 years ago and Diego is a veteran on the Magaluf scene. But the past year, when he has paid wages, utility bills and taxes but earned next to nothing, has cost him a fortune.

“The British, for me, are my life. I pray. I pray for the British all the time. Because for me, for my family, they are the most important. The British tourists who come here in Magaluf are 100% necessary for us. Very important.”

We travel out of Magaluf and follow the road further north to another of Mallorca’s resorts – the picturesque bay of Soller.

Lluis Rullan Oliver is a hotelier in the town. He says the past year has been a “rollercoaster, mentally and physically” but says he now sees a “light at the end of the tunnel”.

He says that at this time of the year, hotels in the area should be working at around 98% occupancy rate. Instead, it’ll probably turn out to be somewhere between 35% and 40%, with hopes that it will rise over the course of summer.

Lluis Rullan Oliver - a hotelier in Soller (Mallorca)
Lluis Rullan Oliver says the past year has been a rollercoaster

There is quiet hope here that, as long as COVID-19 cases remain low on the island, then Mallorca may be allowed to create some kind of travel corridor with the UK, even if mainland Spain does not receive the same privileges. But what’s not yet clear is whether that is a hope born of realism, or simple hope.

What is obvious is that Mallorca is desperate to welcome back its British tourists, the benefactors of an economy that is dependent upon holidaymakers.

“It is going to be a good feeling when you see British tourists again,” says Lluis. “Generally, we want to see all tourists back, enjoying their holidays here. It’s a kind of show that we are a step closer to going back to normal life.”

Behind him, the water in the bay twinkles under an impossibly beautiful sky. The resort looks stunning and inviting. Look out and it is beguilingly easy to forget, for a moment, the sheer misery of this pandemic. And that sense of escapism, of course, is what tourism is all about, and why so many people are desperate to get away to places like Mallorca.

But, for the moment at least, there are no British tourists here to enjoy the welcome, bask in the sunset and spend their money. For Mallorca’s tourist industry, the return of the Britons simply cannot come too soon.

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Euro 2020: Why no Scotland players have to isolate after Gilmour contracts COVID – but England pair do | UK News



Confusion arose over the decision to force England footballers Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell to isolate after Scotland player Billy Gilmour tested positive for COVID-19.

The England duo must isolate until Monday after being deemed “close contacts” of their Chelsea teammate Gilmour when the Three Lions played Scotland on Friday.

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Ben Chilwell (L) and Mason Mount are having to self-isolate
Ben Chilwell (L) and Mason Mount

But questions were raised over why Mount and Chilwell were affected after the entire England squad tested negative for COVID-19 on Monday, while no other Scotland player has been ruled out of their final Euro 2020 group game on Tuesday as a result of Gilmour’s infection.

As Euro 2020 is played in multiple countries against the backdrop of the pandemic, strict rules are in force to try to ensure the tournament is not disrupted.

So what happens when players test positive for COVID, could matches be abandoned as a result, and what steps are being taken to avoid outbreaks? Sky News explains.

What were the concerns about Mount and Chilwell’s contact with Gilmour?

Mount, Chilwell and Gilmour were seen embracing at the end of England’s match with Scotland at Wembley on Friday evening.

However, it is understood the contact that caused most concern was a 25-minute conversation between the three players in the tunnel following the game.

Billy Gilmour (left) and Mason Mount
Billy Gilmour (L) and Mason Mount during the England v Scotland match on Friday

The Chelsea trio had not seen each other since returning to London after they won the Champions League final in Porto on 29 May.

Government guidance states that close contacts of COVID cases include people who had face-to-face conversations within one-metre, and anyone who was within two-metres for more than 15 minutes.

The FA said the decision for Chilwell and Mount to isolate was taken in consultation with Public Health England.

The two players are now isolating and training individually in private areas at England’s training base St George’s Park.

Ben Chilwell during a training session last week
Ben Chilwell is now having to self-isolate

How long do players with COVID have to isolate?

Players at Euro 2020 are tested regularly, and those who are positive must self-isolate for 10 days.

Any other players or staff deemed to have been in close contact with someone with COVID during the tournament also have to isolate for 10 days.

It means Gilmour will be unavailable for Scotland’s final group match against Croatia tonight. If they progress, he will also miss their last-16 tie, Sky Sports News understands.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Euro 2020 - Group D - England v Scotland - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - June 18, 2021 Scotland's Billy Gilmour celebrates after the match Pool via REUTERS/Facundo Arrizabalaga/File Photo
Billy Gilmour will miss Scotland’s final group game and last 16-tie if they progress

The Scottish FA and Public Health England are said to be satisfied that Gilmour had “no close contact issues” with any other member of the Scotland squad.

The isolation period for close contacts of COVID cases includes the date of their last contact and the next 10 full days, according to government guidance.

Mount and Chilwell, who came into contact with Gilmour on 18 June, must now isolate until Monday 28 June.

With England already through to the knockout stages of the tournament, it means Mount and Chilwell could miss their last-16 tie, with the round being played on 26, 27, 28 and 29 June.

Could matches be abandoned due to a COVID outbreak in a squad?

Euro 2020 squads were expanded from 23 players to 26 to account for the chance that some teams could be hit by COVID outbreaks.

If multiple players have to isolate, matches will still go ahead providing the team can name 13 players in their squad – a minimum of 12 outfield players plus one goalkeeper.

If a team cannot named 13 players in their squad, the game can be postponed by up to 48 hours.

If the affected team still cannot meet the minimum requirements for a matchday squad, they will forfeit the game and suffer an automatic 3-0 defeat.

Both teams line up to sing their national anthems. Pic: AP
If a team cannot field 13 players in their squad, the match can be postponed. Pic: AP

Can players who contract COVID be replaced?

Outfield players cannot be changed but UEFA states that “goalkeepers can be replaced during the tournament in the event of physical incapacity, even if one or two goalkeepers in the squad are still available”.

Players that have been replaced cannot then return to the squad.

Can players see their families during the tournament?

UEFA has banned families visiting players at their training camps during Euro 2020.

England manager Gareth Southgate had hoped that players would be able to see family members at their St George’s Park training base, but UEFA’s strict COVID bubble rules forbid it.

“We’re not going to be able to let people in,” Southgate said before the tournament.

“There’s a clear edict from UEFA on what the bubbles need to look like to be as secure as we can make them, it’s never going to be 100% failsafe but we’ve got to comply with as much as we can.”

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Afghan interpreters who worked with British military land in UK today after fleeing Taliban | World News



The first group of former Afghan interpreters whose lives are in danger because they worked for the British military are due to arrive in the UK from Afghanistan in the coming hours under a new government scheme, Sky News understands.

An aircraft reportedly carrying more than a dozen Afghans who were employed by UK forces, as well as family members, is expected to land at an airport in the Midlands later on Tuesday.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) declined to comment on the flight – first reported by the Daily Mail – because of security concerns for the men, women and children who have asked to flee Afghanistan after receiving threats from the Taliban.

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Afghan nationals given chance to live in UK

Taliban militants are growing in strength across the country, regaining more territory from the UK and US-backed Afghan government. It comes as British, US and other NATO forces prepare to withdraw over the next three months following almost 20 years of conflict.

The Taliban views anyone associated with the US and NATO-led mission in Afghanistan as a traitor who deserves to die.

The increased influence of the militant group means a corresponding risk for such personnel.

Concerns over the safety of former staff, most of them interpreters, prompted the MoD and the Home Office in May to expand the eligibility criteria of a relocation scheme for Afghans seeking to flee.

Previously, the government had resisted pressure to allow large numbers of men and women to relocate, saying such a move would deprive Afghanistan of a talented pool of young individuals, vital for the future prosperity of the country.

More than 3,000 Afghans are expected to take advantage of the offer, on top of some 1,300 who have already made the journey under a previous, more restrictive policy. They are expected to be flown to the UK in groups.

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‘It’s the right thing to do’ – Defence secretary

It is understood that the first flight left Kabul earlier on Tuesday. Everyone had to undergo stringent security as well as COVID-related health checks.

Afghanistan is on the red list of countries, which means the group will be put into quarantine upon their arrival in the UK.

The Daily Mail spoke to a 37-year-old former interpreter called Hash, who served in Helmand with the Army between 2007 and 2012 and is reported to be part of the first party along with his wife and two sons.

“We are so happy and so thankful,” he was quoted as saying. “The British government has taken its time but it has done the right thing and we are truly grateful.”

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Aston Martin sues Swiss car dealer over deposits on £2.5m Valkyrie model | Business News



Aston Martin is suing a Swiss car dealer which it claims failed to hand over customer deposits for its £2.5m Valkyrie supercar.

The luxury vehicle maker said civil proceedings had been filed against Nebula Project and that, backed by some of its customers, it was asking prosecutors to consider a criminal investigation.

Aston Martin said the saga was expected to dent annual profits by £15m as it tries to recoup the money.

General view of an Aston Martin logo on the bonnet of an Aston Martin Rapide.
UK-based Aston Martin is famous for making cars driven by James Bond

It said it was fully committed to customers receiving delivery of their supercars on schedule despite not having received the deposited funds.

The company added that it was on track to make its first deliveries of the Valkyrie – a limited edition supercar which uses Formula One technology – in the second half of this year.

It said in future it would take deposits for “special vehicles” directly and not through a third party.

Nebula had signed an agreement in 2016 to help finance the Valkyrie, which would have entitled it to potentially “significant” royalty payments as they rolled off the production line, alongside commission on sales of Valhalla and Vanquish models – but this has now been terminated, Aston Martin said.

The deal had been signed at a time when the carmaker was struggling financially.

Aston Martin also said that it was scrapping dealership arrangements with AF Cars, a company operating in Switzerland with the same board members as Nebula, “after learning that vehicles have been sold in breach of terms of the dealership agreement”.

Aston Martin, famous as the maker of cars driven by fictional spy James Bond, said that aside from the “short term negative financial impact” of this issue, it was on course to meet financial guidance for 2021.

An Aston Martin Valkyrie car is seen during the 87th International Motor Show at Palexpo in Geneva, Switzerland March 8, 2017.
Aston Martin said in future it would take deposits directly

Reuters news agency reported that Nebula and one of its board members, Andreas Baenziger, did not respond immediately to emailed requests for comment.

Florian Kamelger, another board member, said in an email that Nebula would release a statement later on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

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