UPDATE 1-Germany removes regions in Spain, Portugal from virus risk list

(Adds background, reactions)

BERLIN, March 12 (Reuters) - Germany is removing some regions of Spain and Portugal from its list of coronavirus risk areas from Sunday, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases said on Friday.

The latest version of the RKI’s list on its website said Spain’s Balearic islands, Castile-La Mancha, Valencia and Extremadura regions among others are no longer considered risk areas, meaning travellers from there will not need to quarantine upon arrival back in Germany.

RKI is also removing the Portuguese regions of Alentejo, Centro, Norte and the Azores from the risk areas category.

Portugal’s daily tally of new COVID-19 cases has been falling after nearly two months of lockdown, and the government will ease restrictions from next week.

But other popular tourist destinations in Portugal such as the capital Lisbon and the Algarve region are still considered risk areas on RKI’s list.

Infection incidence has also fallen sharply in Spain. The seven-day incidence on the popular island of Mallorca stands at 20 new cases per 100,000 people, far below Germany’s 72.4 at the moment.

Spain’s health ministry this week proposed banning travel between different regions of the country to prevent the Easter holidays sparking a resurgence of infections.

Germany’s move was welcomed by tourism operators and associations.

“With the lifting of the travel warning for the Balearic Islands, the prospects of holidaymakers for an Easter holiday under the sun are improving,” the German Travel Association (DRV) said in a statement.

It said the move also improves the prospects for people living in holiday regions.

Tour operator TUI said it would start offering flights to Mallorca from Hanover, Duesseldorf and Frankfurt on March 21 and expected a jump in last-minute bookings for the Easter season. (Reporting by Riham Alkousaa; Editing by Maria Sheahan and Hugh Lawson)