26 July, 2020

Spain removed from UK's travel corridors exemption list - anyone coming into the UK from Spain will have to self isolate for 14 days.

The UK's Department for Transport and Foreign and Commonwealth Office announced on Saturday that Spain had been removed from travel corridors exemption list, due to an increase in coronavirus cases in the country.

The reintroduction of restrictions means that people arriving in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland from Spain on or after 26 July 2020 will now be required to self isolate for a period of 14 days. 

The government says a significant change over the last week in both the level and pace of change in confirmed cases in the country has necessitated the change in Spain placement on the list of countries where people do not have to self-isolate when arriving into to the UK.

People currently on holiday in Spain can continue their holiday as planned and are being advised to follow the local rules and regulations over socially distancing and are being told to check the FCO’s travel advice pages on GOV.UK for further information.

The change in the situation means the FCO is now advising against all but essential travel to mainland Spain,  although this obviously doesn't cover the Canary Islands or the Balearic Islands because travel advice is based on the risk to the individual traveller and COVID-19 infection rates are lower there than mainland Spain.

A government spokesperson said:  "The Joint Biosecurity Centre together with Public Health England have updated their coronavirus assessments of Spain based on the latest data. As a result, Spain has been removed from the lists of countries from which passengers arriving in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are exempted from the need to self-isolate.

Protecting public health is our absolute priority and we have taken this decision to limit any potential spread to the UK. We’ve always been clear that we would act immediately to remove a country where necessary. Both our list of quarantine exemptions and the FCO travel advice are being updated to reflect these latest risk assessments."

The news has not been welcomed by the Spanish authorities, the foreign ministry has stated that the British measures are unnecessary and that Spain remains safe for visitors, despite a surge of new cases in various cities including Barcelona, Zaragoza and Madrid. Health officials have reported over 900 new infections on Friday.

Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary was unapologetic for rapidly re-introducing quarantine measures on Sunday, telling Sky News "The cases in Spain, the data came we got was on the Friday, showed a big jump right across mainland Spain, that was then assessed yesterday afternoon and we took the decision as swiftly as we could. And we can't make apologies for doing so."

In stark contrast, Catalonia saw more than 8,500 new infections while the Balearic Islands had just 92 during the last fortnight, which helps explain why the islands are being left out of the current restrictions.

The travel company TUI has decided to cancel all holidays to Spain until 9 August following the announcement,  it advised, "Due to travel advice change against all but essential travel to mainland Spain, TUI UK have taken the decision to cancel all holidays to mainland Spain up to and including Sunday 9 August."  Holidays to the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands would continue to be operated. "Customers due to travel to all areas of Spain between 27th July and Sunday 9th August will be able to cancel or amend holidays and will be able to receive a full refund or the option to rebook their holiday with a booking incentive."

The package holiday firm said it would make a decision next week regarding holiday due to depart after the 9th of August and would let customers known by the end of July.

Jet2 Holidays are continuing to sell holidays to mainland Spain on Sunday, with a small warning that the 14-day quarantine upon arrival back in the UK was applicable.

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