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China warns of economic uncertainty despite moderate recovery in Q2

China warns of economic uncertainty despite moderate recovery in Q2

The pace of China’s economic recovery rose modestly in the second quarter after signs of sluggishness in the world’s second-biggest economy had stoked expectations of greater policy support.

On a quarter-on-quarter basis, China’s gross domestic product grew 1.3 per cent in the three months to the end of June, up from a revised 0.4 per cent expansion in the previous quarter, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Thursday. Economists had predicted quarter-on-quarter growth of 1 to 1.2 per cent, according to polls by Bloomberg and Reuters.

Second quarter GDP was 7.9 per cent higher than a year earlier, compared with year-on-year growth of 18.3 per cent in the first quarter. The high growth in the first quarter reflected the halt in economic activity in early 2020 after the Covid-19 pandemic erupted in central China and forced the government to impose a nationwide lockdown.

The NBS data release comes at a tense juncture for China’s economic planners as they try to balance financial stability with growth.

Liu Aihua, a spokesperson for the NBS, told reporters in Beijing that the economy had continued to “recover steadily” but warned that the rebound was “unbalanced”.

“We should also be aware that the coronavirus continues to mutate globally and external instabilities and uncertainties abound,” she said.

Signs of downward pressure on China’s recovery have prompted speculation that Beijing will unleash more policy support to shore up business confidence and employment and lift spending.

Issuance of special purpose bonds, used by local governments to fund infrastructure investments, was 50 per cent lower over the first five months of the year, compared with the same period in 2020.

Wang Jun, economist at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, said the trend was worrying. “Fiscal policy needs to be loosened,” he said. “Local government debt issuance and infrastructure investment are closely related.”

The Chinese government has targeted full-year growth of at least 6 per cent, which most analysts expect will be easily reached as the economic recovery accelerates.

“The annual growth goal is in reach,” said Chaoping Zhu at JPMorgan Asset Management. “However, long-term credit growth has remained weak as the government deploys policies to control leverage.”

Li Keqiang, the Chinese premier, reiterated this week the government’s longstanding pledge to refrain from “flood-like stimulus” measures. Any such loosening threatens to undercut policies introduced to reduce leverage and deal with a series of bond defaults late last year. These problems are especially acute among state-owned enterprises in central and northern provinces, sparking concerns about financial system instability.

China, the first big economy to move out of a lockdown last year, has been watched closely by other economies wrestling with fragile recoveries and the effects of the crisis.

The country’s exports have for much of this year outperformed market expectations, boosted by the US and parts of Europe easing social distancing measures and returning to growth.

But the Covid-19 Delta variant’s rapid spread has cast doubt over external demand in the second half of the year. China has also kept its borders closed as it continues to pursue a “zero-Covid” approach to the pandemic.

Julian Evans-Pritchard, economist with Capital Economics, said China’s pandemic-linked export boom “appears to have peaked”, and noted that on a quarter-on-quarter basis the GDP growth rate was still the fourth weakest since rates were first published in 2010.

“All told, activity in China remained strong,” he said. “But with output already above its pre-virus trend, the economy is struggling to gain ground at its usual pace.”

Manufacturers across Asia have also been blindsided by sharp price increases and sudden supply constraints hitting important resources used by industry. Shipping delays and raw material shortages have also driven fears over disruptions.

According to the NBS, China’s industrial production grew 8.3 per cent year-on-year in June, down from 8.8 per cent in May.

Growth in fixed asset investments, which tracks spending in crucial areas such as infrastructure and property, was up 12.6 per cent year-on-year in the first half of 2021.

Mixed sentiment over China’s domestic consumption has also raised some concerns over the health of the services sector.

Qu Hongbin, HSBC chief economist, expected more “targeted” support for China’s small- and medium-sized enterprises. These businesses account for more than 85 per cent of urban employment and have recovered more slowly compared with other parts of the economy.

“SMEs would be the focus,” Qu said.

Retail sales rose 12.1 per cent in June. That compared with 12.4 per cent in May and 17.7 per cent in April, the NBS data showed, highlighting continued pressure on domestic consumer spending and an uneven economic recovery.

David Chao, global market strategist at Invesco, said segments of the Chinese economy were “being left behind”.

“The retail sales number is perhaps the best indicator of how the common household is doing in China,” Chao said.

Yue Su, principal economist at the Economist Intelligence Unit, added that consumer demand “is still the weak link”.

“China’s GDP data continues to indicate an uneven recovery,” she said. “Retail sales haven’t recovered [and] incomes are not improving as fast as the economy.”

Additional reporting by Xinning Liu in Beijing and Hudson Lockett in Hong Kong

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This post originally posted here International homepage

Resident Pay, Relationships Stay Steady Amid Uncertainty of COVID

Medical residents faced a challenging year in 2021; they were called upon to navigate the front lines of a pandemic while working to complete their medical education, with little increase in compensation.



Resident Pay, Relationships Stay Steady Amid Uncertainty of COVID

The average salary for all residents was $ 64,000, up from $ 55,400 in 2015, according to the Medscape Residents Salary & Debt Report 2021. Resident salaries saw a slow and steady increase in the past seven years, with 3% annual growth from 2017 to 2020. However, salaries generally remained the same as in 2020. Regardless of residency year, men ($ 64,200) and women ($ 63,700) are making about the same salary.

Only 43% of residents reported that they felt fairly compensated with their salaries and benefits, similar to 2020. These numbers are down significantly from 2015, when 62% of residents reported an average sense of fair compensation. For the fifth straight year, residents’ chief reasons for dissatisfaction with their salary are that it did not meet the number of hours worked (87%) and it was not comparable to that of other medical staff such as nurses and physician assistants (81%). About three quarters (74%) reported that their compensation did not reflect the required skill level, and 42% reported that it did not meet the cost of living.

COVID Further Strained Pay Disparity

Two thirds (66%) of residents reported that they spend over 50 hours in a hospital during the work week. More than half of residents report spending 1-10 hours per week on scut work (defined as unskilled tasks), and another one quarter spend 11-20 hours on these duties.

Amelia Breyre, who finished her emergency medicine residency in July 2020, said the pandemic further highlighted pay disparity. “For residents, there is no overtime pay or hazard pay,” said Breyre, now an EM fellow. “Residents cannot simply ‘quit’ when faced with adverse working conditions because then they are foregoing years of educational investment and a career in medicine. This past year in particular, residents have not been fairly compensated when considering the demands made of them.”

Nearly 9 out of 10 (88%) residents have been directly caring for COVID-19 patients in person, a sizable increase from last year’s report (54%). Twenty-one percent of them have done so via telemedicine, another increase (11%) from our 2020 data. Nearly 6 in 10 residents (59%) believe that they should be caring for COVID-19 patients, a percentage that has more than doubled since 2020. Among the 41% who felt that medical students should not care for COVID-19 patients, many cited not risking infection for a learning experience. “They are paying to learn, not get sick,” wrote one respondent.

Cherie Fathy, a fourth-year ophthalmology resident, ended up contracting COVID-19 in December 2020, probably during a patient encounter. “I was fine, thankfully, but knowing that I may have exposed those around me was incredibly anxiety-provoking and I was rife with guilt,” she said. In 2021, 91% of residents caring for COVID-19 patients said they feel safer treating COVID patients in recent months, pointing to the vaccine effect.

Half of residents thought their training prepared them for a pandemic of COVID-19’s magnitude, a 10% increase from 2020. Men (56%) were more likely to feel their training prepared them to handle a pandemic than women (42%).

Medical Debt Drives Future Decision-Making

About one quarter (24%) of residents reported having over $ 300,000 of medical school debt, with 28% saying they have between $ 200,000 and $ 300,000 in debt, and 15% reporting between $ 100,000 and $ 200,000 in debt. About one fifth of respondents (22%) reported having no debt at all. Just 11% of residents reported having less than $ 100,000 of medical school debt, distinct from those who had none. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, 73% of students graduate with debt , with a median of $ 200,000 in 2019, similar to our findings.

Heavy medical school debts are driving more students to higher-paying specialties. When asked how influential potential earnings were on their choice of specialty, the most popular answer was “somewhat influential” (36% of all residents). About 4 in 10 (41%) reported that it was either “very” or “extremely” influential. Men were more likely than women to report that potential earnings influenced their choice of specialty. Women were almost twice as likely as men to report that potential earning was “not at all” or “slightly” important to their choice of specialty (32%-women; 18%­­-men). Whereas 14% of women residents reported that potential earnings did not influence their choice at all, only 6% of men answered the same.

Around one fifth of residents (22%) say they anticipate becoming a partner or practice owner, while 27% say they anticipate employment. One in five residents (20%) report wanting to do both, and 31% say they are unsure. Male residents (26%) are more likely to anticipate they will become a partner/practice owner than female residents (17%).

Professional Relationships Remain Good

More than four fifths (84%) of residents rated their overall relationships with their attendings as “good” or “very good.” Only 2% say the relationship is poor or very poor, similar to the 2020 report findings. Responses ranged from “it’s a pleasant working relationship” to “[they] use us to do greater than 90% of the work they are being paid to do.”

About three quarters (77%) of residents gave those same “good” or “very good” ratings to their overall relationships with PAs and nurses, with 20% choosing to say “fair.” Responses ranged from “they are professional and cordial” to “nurses don’t understand that resident medical education has been far greater and more in depth than theirs.” “We are taught in medical school to respect nurses and recognize their expertise and experience,” one respondent wrote. “Nurses, on the other hand, are taught none of this in nursing school.”

This report summarizes how more than 1500 residents in more than 29 specialties feel about this past year with regard to salary, debt, COVID-19, and overall work environment.

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New Yorkers Vote for Mayor in Race Tinged With Acrimony and Uncertainty

New Yorkers Vote for Mayor in Race Tinged With Acrimony and Uncertainty

When the New York City mayoral primary campaign began, the city was steeped in grave uncertainty about its future. Candidates laid out radically different visions for how they would guide a still-shuttered metropolis out of overlapping crises around public health, the economy and racial injustice.

But as voters head to the polls on Tuesday, New York and its mayoral race have changed. The city is well on its path to reopening even as new problems have surged to the fore. Now, a different kind of political uncertainty awaits.

No Democratic candidate is expected to reach the threshold needed to win outright under the city’s new ranked-choice voting system, and it may be weeks before a Democratic primary victor — who would become an overwhelming favorite to win the general election in November — is officially declared.

New Yorkers on Tuesday will also render judgments on other vital positions in primary races that will test the power of the left in the nation’s largest city. The city comptroller’s race, the Manhattan district attorney’s race and a slew of City Council primaries, among other contests, will offer imperfect but important windows into Democratic attitudes and engagement levels as the nation emerges from the pandemic in the post-Trump era.

But no results will be more carefully watched than the race to succeed Mayor Bill de Blasio, a contest that has been defined by debates over public safety, the economy, political experience and personal ethics and that in its final weeks became intensely acrimonious.

Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president; Kathryn Garcia, a former sanitation commissioner; Maya Wiley, a former counsel to Mr. de Blasio; and Andrew Yang, a former presidential candidate, were considered leading Democratic contenders, though the race remained fluid and strikingly contentious.

If no single candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote on the first tally, the eventual nominee will be determined by rounds of ranked-choice voting, through which New Yorkers could rank up to five candidates in order of preference.

The winner of the Democratic nomination will face either Fernando Mateo, a restaurateur, or Curtis Sliwa, the founder of the Guardian Angels, in the general election.

Shaun Donovan, a former federal housing secretary; Raymond J. McGuire, a former Citi executive; and Scott M. Stringer, the city comptroller, who all benefited from heavy spending on television on their behalf, were hoping to show unexpected strength through the ranking process. Dianne Morales, a former nonprofit executive, once appeared poised to be a left-wing standard-bearer, but her standing suffered amid internal campaign turmoil.

No issue dominated the race more than public safety, as poll after poll showed combating crime was the most important issue to New York Democrats.

Sparse public polling suggested that Mr. Adams, a former police captain who challenged misconduct from within the system — part of a complex career — attained credibility on that subject in the eyes of some voters, which will have been a crucial factor if he wins.

But Ms. Wiley repeatedly challenged Mr. Adams from the left on policing matters, expressing skepticism about adding more officers to patrol the subways and calling for greater investments in the social safety net and less in the Police Department budget. She emerged as a favorite of left-wing leaders and progressive voters.

Mr. Yang and Ms. Garcia shared Mr. Adams’s criticisms of efforts to scale back police funding, and those three candidates also frequently addressed quality-of-life issues across the city.

But if the race was defined in part by clashes over policy and vision, it also had all the hallmarks of a bare-knuckled brawl. Mr. Adams faced intense criticism from opponents over transparency and ethics, tied to reports concerning his tax and real estate holding disclosures and fund-raising practices. And Mr. Yang stumbled amid growing scrutiny of his knowledge of municipal government as rivals sharply questioned his capacity to lead.

The ugliest stretch of the contest came in its last days, as Mr. Adams declared that Mr. Yang and Ms. Garcia, who formed an apparent alliance, were seeking to prevent a Black candidate from winning. His allies went further, claiming without evidence that the actions of those candidates amounted to voter suppression.

By contrast, the comptroller’s race has flown below the radar. But it has attracted national left-wing engagement: Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, among others, backed Councilman Brad Lander, helping coalesce left-wing energy in that contest, far earlier than in the mayor’s race.

The race remained unsettled heading into Primary Day, with City Council Speaker Corey Johnson; Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, a former CNBC anchor who unsuccessfully challenged Ms. Ocasio-Cortez last year; and a slew of other Democratic candidates also competing for the role.

In the Manhattan district attorney’s race, the two leading candidates were believed to be Tali Farhadian Weinstein, who clerked for Merrick B. Garland, now the United States attorney general, and for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and worked as a federal prosecutor; and Alvin Bragg, who served as a federal prosecutor and as a chief deputy to the state attorney general. The race will not be decided by ranked-choice voting, and the winner may be called on Tuesday night.

The New York chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America stayed out of the mayor’s race altogether, but did emphasize a series of high-profile City Council races with the potential to remake the ideological balance of the Council.

For months, many New Yorkers tuned out the mayor’s race, distracted by the challenges of winter in a pandemic and burned out by the presidential election.

But the final stretch has been hard to miss, culminating in a frenzied five-borough battle over the direction of the city, with exchanges between candidates that turned acridly personal in the final weeks.

The race was also complicated by strategizing around ranked-choice voting. In one of the most unusual and closely watched dynamics of the final stretch, Mr. Yang encouraged his voters to support Ms. Garcia as their second choice on their ballots. Ms. Garcia insisted that she was not endorsing Mr. Yang even as they attended events together, jointly greeting voters and passing out shared campaign literature.

Some of Ms. Garcia’s allies privately acknowledged that the decision to appear with Mr. Yang could discomfit progressives who disdained him but were open to her. But they also saw opportunities to convert some voters who liked both Mr. Yang and Mr. Adams, and Ms. Garcia was not shy in discussing her motivation: She wanted Yang voters to rank her second.

Author: Katie Glueck
This post originally appeared on NYT > Top Stories

BA crew put back onto furlough amid travel restriction uncertainty – ‘enough is enough’

BA crew put back onto furlough amid travel restriction uncertainty - ‘enough is enough’

The carrier has been forced to furlough thousands of employees again as the wait for a return of international travel continues. BA has demanded the Government to ease restrictions and to move the US to the green list “at the next available opportunity”.

BA had begun to bring workers back to work on May 17, the date the Government set for the restart of international travel.

However, and after the traffic light system review last week, it seems like the summer season is over for the carrier.

With Portugal moved back to the amber list and only 11 countries on the green list – but none of them a significant holiday destination – thousands of staff are being put back onto the furlough scheme.

The carrier had already cut more than 8,000 jobs last year, which was the worst downturn in aviation history.

READ MORE: Expats: Britons ‘should look to Portugal instead of Spain’

A British Airways’ spokesperson said: “Like many companies, we’re using the furlough scheme to protect jobs during this unprecedented crisis.

“However, it’s vital the Government follows its risk-based framework to re-open international travel as soon as possible, putting more low-risk countries, like the US, on its green list at the next available opportunity.”

Taking to social media, crew and other employees have expressed their frustration with the ongoing travel restrictions.

“Well done @BorisJohnson Aer Lingus calls in liquidator for Stobbart Air whilst British Airways furlough more staff. You are determined to keep US-UK travel corridor shut and destroy the economy.

DON’T MISS

“Get it open for vaccinated people. There is no reason to delay,” said a crew member.

“BA staff are back on furlough. We are all going to be struggling, we need to stand up now, we’ve got nothing to lose anymore. Enough is enough,” said another.

British Aiways’ CEO Sean Doyle has called for the urgent reopening of the UK-US travel corridor, one of his airline’s key routes.

“We urgently need them to look to the science and base their judgements on a proper risk analysis, allowing us all to benefit from the protection offered by our successful vaccine rollouts”, said Doyle.

UK airline bosses wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week to demand the travel corridor between UK and the US as the “critical next step”.

During the G7 summit, the Secretary of State for Transport announced that the UK will begin to work on resuming travel with the US.

“We’re pleased to announce a joint UK/US Taskforce to help facilitate the reopening of transatlantic travel,” he said.

However, no progress on the traffic light system is expected to be announced before the Government decides on its domestic policy.

The Government made it clear that its priority at the moment is the easing of the domestic lockdown on June 21.

After that, the travel list will be reviewed again around June 24.

There is hope that more countries will be added to the green list, and restrictions will be eased at least for vaccinated travellers.

BA staff are planning to take the streets of London next week to protest against the current travel restrictions.

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Travel Feed

Texas Legislature gavels out amid uncertainty about when lawmakers will return

Texas Legislature gavels out amid uncertainty about when lawmakers will return

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — As Texas lawmakers wrap up the legislative session at the state Capitol, they’re unsure about when they’ll come back to Austin.

All eyes are on Gov. Greg Abbott to announce a special legislative session, and importantly, when he’ll do it. He has already expressed his intention to call lawmakers back in the fall to redraw legislative maps when the Census Bureau releases its population data for redistricting.

Abbott, a Republican, called this session “one of the most conservative legislative sessions our state has ever seen.”

“We passed legislation to secure our border, support our police, expand second amendment rights, defend religious liberty and protect the sanctity of life in Texas,” he stated Monday afternoon. “We also enacted several key emergency items like reforming the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, weatherizing and stabilizing our power grid, ensuring COVID-19 liability protections and expanding access to broadband and telemedicine.”

Those legislative victories, which House Speaker Dade Phelan and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick— both Republicans— highlighted Monday, also came with failures to pass some conservative priorities, like changes to the state’s elections rules and bail reform.

Texas Democrats had something to do with that. They staged a walkout in the House Sunday night, breaking a quorum up against a midnight deadline to pass the elections bill during its debate. They used delay tactics last week to knock down legislation that would have required high school student-athletes to participate in sports matching their biological sex.

“My Democratic colleagues have been masterful in their use of the rules to kill bad bills on and off the floor this session,” State Rep. James Talarico, D-Round Rock, said. “And we’ve had to be creative in order to really block some of these dangerous pieces of legislation that are trying to be pushed through the legislature.”

In remarks to the House on Monday, Phelan applauded legislative efforts to improve health for Texas moms and pass a balanced budget during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We maintained our commitment to public education and higher education when no one thought we could do that,” he said. “But we did it.”

Both Phelan and Patrick highlighted updates to the state-run electricity grid, which became a point of focus after the deadly winter storm in February.

“We did a lot, but we have more to do,” Patrick said in an interview Monday.

Lawmakers passed bills revamping the Electric Reliability Council of Texas and the Public Utility Commission of Texas, which are responsible for management of the power grid.

“(We passed) major changes, winterization, we’re making sure we have some money to keep ERCOT operating so they don’t have a liquidity issue, but the thing that we did not do, that the Senate asked to do, multiple times was to provide relief for ratepayers,” Patrick opined.

“When we come back, if we get another bill that puts more money toward industry, I’m not bringing it to the floor,” Patrick said. “I want money to come to the floor for ratepayers. We’ve taken a stand on that almost all session, and we’re not going to give up on that issue.”

Patrick lobbed criticism at House leadership’s calendar management, which he believes is responsible for some of his key priorities failing to pass like the elections overhaul, the transgender student-athletes bill, legislation to ban taxpayer-funded lobbying and a bill he believes will improve free speech on social media.

“It was just poor management of the calendar,” Patrick said. “Our trains run on time in the Senate, we get our work done.”

“We passed these in March and April,” he said. “They’ve been sitting over there for months and they wait to the last two or three days… you’re just asking for trouble. Now the Democrats shouldn’t have walked out, but they were given the opportunity and they did,” Patrick chided.

In Phelan’s address, the first-year Speaker did not specifically mention Patrick or the Senate, but he defended the body’s work and legislative priorities.

“Every member of this body was productive,” Phelan said.

“No matter the external forces that try to distract us, or diminish the work of this body, we are the Texas House. In this House we work hard and our rules matter,” he said, appearing to take a dig at the Senate regularly suspending its rules to take up bills.

As lawmakers head home to recoup before they’re called back to the Capitol, Patrick said he has given Abbott a wish list of legislation to prioritize. He said he believes the conservative priorities should be taken up in a separate special session than the one dedicated to redistricting and federal stimulus.

“Redistricting is hard,” he said. “We gotta redraw the Congressional maps, the Senate maps, the House maps and we’re gonna have about $ 16 billion coming in from the federal government, we have to figure out how we’re going to spend it.”

“When you’re redrawing people districts, most of them aren’t happy because it changes every 10 years just by population, it’s not a good time to try to get a vote sometimes,” he said. “So that has to be its own separate deal and should not be mixed in with politics.”

Author: Wes Rapaport
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

Spain holidays: Mallorca to open all hotels despite travel list uncertainty

Spain holidays: Mallorca to open all hotels despite travel list uncertainty
Over 95 percent of hotels in Palma de Mallorca will be open by end of June, according to the city’s hotel association. Forty-five hotels are currently operating and it has reported that 67 more will be reopening by the end of the month.
Despite being Spain on the amber list, the Balearic Islands have seen thousands of Britons arriving this last week.

The green travel list review will take place on June 3, and Spain hopes to be included this time.

The Canary and the Balearics Islands have asked the Government to be treated separately and to be added to the green list even if mainland Spain doesn’t make it.

Although the Government is considering all the options, according to reports, some of Britain’s favourite island holiday destinations, including Ibiza and Mallorca, could stay on the amber list.

READ MORE: British tourists turned away from Ryanair flight over Covid tests

That is because there are concerns regarding the UK Border controls as the influx of holidaymakers increases.

A source explained to the Times: “The Balearics are hugely popular and the Government is worried about opening up too quickly.

“Opening up to the Balearics would mean a huge increase in Brits leaving the UK.

“There are fears that opening up to hugely popular destinations like the Balearics would overwhelm Border Force while the 100 percent passenger location form checks remain in place.”

DON’T MISS

Just a few days ago, controversial images were seen at Palma Airport with agglomerations of passengers waiting for passport control.

There were big crowds of people without any safety distance, in an airport that clearly lacked personnel.

Mallorca airport assured that it was a specific moment due to the arrival of different international flights at the same time and that the agglomeration disappeared in a matter of 15 minutes.

However, many worry that the situation could become unsustainable once the real tourism boom begins.

Mallorca remains positive about the UK Government’s plans and has decided to reopen almost all the hotels in the island.

Palma’s tourist board said the city’s restaurants, galleries and other attractions will also be open and “ready to welcome UK travellers again”.

Business owners in Mallorca are anxiously waiting to see what happens next week and whether the Balearic Islands are finally included on the green list so Britons can avoid quarantine when they come back.

The situation in other holiday spots around Spain is very different.

In Benidorm, for example, only 30 percent of the hotels have reopened, and the city is struggling due to the lack of tourism despite being one of the regions in Spain with fewer Covid cases.

The country opened its borders to Britons last week and tourists don’t need to provide a Covid-19 test when entering anymore.

However, it is still on the amber list, and many holidaymakers can’t afford to quarantine for 10 days on their return to the Uk.

An expat living in Benidorm explained that the city has been severely hit by the pandemic due to the lack of tourism and that despite being Spanish borders opened again for Britons, the beaches are still empty.

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Travel Feed