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Officially known as the Principality of Andorra, this tiny landlocked country is located on the Iberian Peninsula. It is bordered by both France and Spain. Situated in the heart of the Pyrenees Mountains, its capital, Andorra la Vella, is at an elevation of over 3,000 feet. That makes it the highest capital in Europe.
The country has several remarkable features. It was supposedly created by Charlegmagne and has the highest average life expectancy in the world. It’s also a remarkable blend of cultures thanks to its location. While the official language is Catalan, you will find many natives who speak Spanish, Portuguese or French.
Unfortunately, the country’s economy depended in part on tourism, which has taken a dive thanks to Covid-19.
The impact of the Coronavirus on Andorra
While Andorra is ranked as having one of the highest death rates per million inhabitants due to Covid-19, it has only had 939 cases as of July 30th, and it’s only had 52 deaths. Of those who became sick with the Coronavirus, 825 have fully recovered. Initially, there was a spike in cases but since early June the numbers have stabilized.
Between June 5th and July 14th there were only 3 new cases in the country. The reason the rate of deaths per million inhabitants seems so high is that the country’s population is only 77,000 and many are elderly.
Towards the end of April, Andorra adopted unique ways of easing lockdown restrictions while still maintaining the social distance between residents. People could leave their homes to exercise or go shopping, with the following restrictions:
If they lived in an even numbered house, they could go out on even-numbered days.
Those who live in odd-numbered houses could leave on odd-numbered dates.
Different time slots were reserved for particular activities. For example, shopping hours were between 9-11 am or 2-7 pm. Outdoor exercise was allowed from 6-9am.
The elderly and vulnerable had a special slot, between 11am and 2pm, reserved for them.
Andorrans were to wear face masks and maintain a social distance of 12 feet outside their homes.
This graduated easing of restrictions worked very well. The number of cases remained quite low since early May. Therefore, on June 1st, the government further opened up the country. Almost all businesses were allowed to reopen and restrictions were removed for individuals leaving their homes. Gatherings of up to 15 individuals were allowed.
While most restrictions have been eased in Andorra, social distancing requirements are still being maintained. Businesses are required to implement strict hygienic procedures. Thankfully the easing of restrictions has not resulted in a spike in Covid-19 cases, though the government continues to monitor things closely.
European Union residents can travel to Andorra
As of June 1st, the government of Andorra became open to residents of the European Union. At this time, while those from member countries can travel to Andorra, entry is forbidden for nationals from outside Europe.
This guide provides information about the latest travel restrictions.
Precautions for Travelers
When traveling to Andorra or any other country during this time, it’s best to follow some simple common-sense guidelines. Wear a face mask at the airport and on airplanes.
Wash your hands regularly. If you cannot wash your hand, use a WHO approved hand sanitizer. Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth. Maintain proper social distance. And it’s probably a good idea to get travel insurance.
Top Reasons to Visit Andorra
Andorra is a tiny country but it’s rich in natural beauty. Set in the magnificent terrain of the Pyrenees, its mountains provide a pristine background. Three national parks are located here. One of these, the Madriu-Perafita-Claror, has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In these parks you’ll find wildlife such as golden eagles and bearded vultures as well as wild horses, foxes, and bears.
The mountains also provide a variety of ski resorts. In the winter, Andorra becomes a Winter Wonderland and people from all over Europe come here to play. When done with a day of plying the slopes, visitors enjoy the lively nightlife. Every ski resort has several après-ski bars. The capital is also a great place to find dancing, live music and many types of pubs.
In the summer, Andorra maybe even more pleasant to visit. It’s less crowded and the hiking is superb. Everywhere you turn, you’ll find a breath-taking view. You’ll be surrounded by snow-capped mountains, pure deep blue lakes and vivid greenery. You’ll also see many examples of Romanesque architecture punctuating the landscape in the form of exquisite churches.
If you’d prefer a less active vacation, you might come here for the shopping and the food. The capital boasts over 5,000 retail outlets. Since Andorra does not have any sales tax, it’s easy to find great bargains. Afterwards, you can enjoy delicious cuisine that is heavily influenced by both France and Spain. The result is fragrant and beautifully flavored.
While travelers still need to exercise caution due to the pandemic, at this point in time Andorra would be a great place to visit. The number of Covid-19 cases in the country remains low and the government continues to enforce sensible precautions.
Visitors will be able to enjoy almost every activity that makes Andorra such a unique and wonderful place. At the same time, thanks to the vigilance of the government, they can be assured businesses are maintaining good hygiene standards.