Fernando Simón speaking on Monday. | Fernando Alvarado

Fernando Simón, the director of the Centre for the Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies, said on Monday that there would need to be a 14-day cumulative incidence of no more than 150 cases per 100,000 in order that travel at Easter could be acceptable.

Asked about travel at Easter, Simón initially responded: "I don't know when Easter is, so I don't know what margin we have" (Easter Sunday is April 4). He was responding to what Spain's tourism minister, Reyes Maroto, had said at the weekend: "If the health security conditions are met, Easter could see a restart of national travel."

Simón explained that the "evolution" in terms of numbers of cases was now good but that acceptable evolution cannot be confused with an acceptable situation, which will be "when we have incidence of 50, 100 or 150 cases per 100,000 in fourteen days". What will not be acceptable will be 500, 400, 300 or 200 cases.

He acknowledged that he didn't know what the situation will be by Easter. Without wanting to contradict Maroto, he stressed that "we have to be clear that a good situation for travelling is not that we go down from 800 cases to 500".

As of February 1, the average 14-day incidence in Spain was 865.67 per 100,000. Regional variation is great, with Valencia registering 1,352.22 cases and the Canaries - at the other end of the scale - at 185.61. In all, eight regions plus Melilla have rates above the national average. In addition to Valencia, these are - in descending order - Castile and León, La Rioja, Castile-La Mancha, Murcia, Extremadura, Madrid and Andalusia. The incidence in the Balearics is the sixth lowest (555.83).

Simón's remarks were about national tourism. For foreign tourism, Easter has been all but written off, albeit that some operators in Germany are retaining hope that it might be possible.