BRITISH tourists looking at spending a summer in Spain face disappointment after the latest UK government travel coridoor update.
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What has happened in Spain?
On July 25, the UK government announced that people travelling from Spain from July 26 will have to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
Before, the UK had allowed Brits to travel to the holiday hotspot without needing to self-quarantine on return.
After a spike in coronavirus cases in Spain, holidaymakers in the country – including island hotspots like Majorca and Ibiza – will now be forced to quarantine for two weeks upon returning home to the UK.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office initially warned against “all but essential travel” to mainland Spain only.
But in an update on July 27, the FCO warned Brits to not travel to the Canary Islands or Balearic Islands unless it is necessary.
This includes Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Ibiza and Majorca with the the new advice coming into effect without prior warning to travellers.
Can I still travel to Spain?
The short answer is yes, but for essential travel only.
Flights are still departing from the UK to Spain, but the FCO has changed its advice to only travel to mainland Spain for essential reasons.
Some airlines like Easyjet are still flying to Spain and some hotels are still open.
However, the government has advised to only travel to Spain for an essential reason.
If you decide to book a holiday to Spain you will be travelling against government advice.
This means you are unlikely to be covered under travel insurance.
I am already in Spain – do I need to rush back to the UK?
No. The government has said holidays do not need to be cut short.
It is already too late to rush back to the UK to avoid quarantining for 14 days.
The government advises those already in Spain to follow the advice of local authorities.
You should contact your tour operator or airline if you have questions about your return journey.
Are Gran Canaria, Tenerife and Majorca included on the FCO’s ‘black list’ for Spain?
The short answer is yes.
The FCO has now advised against all non-essential travel to mainland Spain and its islands.
This means that the Canary Islands – which include Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro and La Graciosa – should only be visited for essential travel.
The same currently applies to the Balearic Islands, which includes Majorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera.
Any return from these islands had already required people to self-quarantine for two weeks under the rules released on July 25 for Spain.
What are the quarantine rules?
Since June 8, guidelines have required anyone entering the UK from a non-coridoor country to quarantine for 14 days.
Those rules continue to apply for the time being – both to Brits returning to the country and tourists arriving from abroad.
Anyone entering the country must provide contact details and then self-isolate for 14 days, or face a fine of up to £1000.
Police are conducting checks to ensure people are quarantining and not leaving their residence for the two-week period.
Magistrates also have the powers to prosecute or to issue unlimited fines for persistent breaches of the new self-isolation rule, or for refusal to pay a fine that has already been issued.
The quarantine is being run and enforced by Border Force, cops, and Public Health England officials.
Brits living in the UK can quarantine at their own home, but they are not allowed to leave the house for a fortnight.
Anyone without accommodation should be provided alternative accommodation by the government.
Which workers are exempt from quarantine?
Most quarantine exemptions cover either transport professionals or key workers travelling from abroad to the UK on very specific business.
Individuals that are exempt from quarantine will still have to fill out the standard tracking form and must have official clearance that they can produce at the border.
There are no exemptions for people coming back from holiday, no matter what your profession.
Among those that are exempt are:
- Essential UK and foreign diplomats that are on a mission, including intelligence staff
- Defence personnel, forces and contractors who are confirmed as exempt through the Ministry of Defence
- Border security and maintenance staff
- People who live in the UK but work in another country and travel between the UK and country of work at least once a week, and visa versa.
- People licenced to transport passengers by coach and bus internationally
- International freight and goods drivers, including post and medicine.
- Eurotunnel and Eurostar staff, pilots and air crew
- Industry and infrastructure specialists that are coming in for work purposes
- International prison escorts
- People essential to clinical trials and studies
If you are unsure if you qualify, you can find the full details on the government website here.
Do other countries have quarantine rules?
Most countries have some form of screening practice depending on where you are flying from.
You will have to comply with coronavirus requirements in the country you travel to.
This may include self-isolating or providing your details to local authorities.
There are around 70 countries that are deemed safe by the UK and have a travel corridor scheme that means you won’t have to quarantine at either end.
You can get precise Foreign Office information on the country you’re heading to here.
The FCO recommends that you make sure you have appropriate travel insurance in case you have unexpected costs.
What has the response been?
There was mass confusion over the sudden move among tourists, with holidaymakers running for the airports to avoid the quarantine deadline.
It is thought more than 600,000 British tourists will be affected by the restrictions as many already on holiday or having booked one face uncertainty as to whether their trip will still go ahead.
Thousands more have cancelled holidays all over Europe for fear of getting caught up in another sudden quarantine move.
Many airlines have cancelled further flights to Spain, .
There has been a backlash from Spanish authorities too, who insist the country is safe in spite of the recent spike.
Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya said “Spain is a safe country for tourists and for Spaniards” as she tried to save the country’s tourist industry from collapse during the coronavirus pandemic.
Do I need to self-quarantine when in Spain?
No. The most updated advice doesn’t require Brits travelling to Spain to self-quarantine upon arrival.
Travellers will be subjected to three requirements:
- Provide the Spanish Ministry of Health with mandatory contact information and any history of Covid-19 exposure 48 hours prior to travel
- A temperature check
- Under a visual health assessment
However, this situation should be closely monitored.
Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya has said in a previous interview restrictions could be imposed on Brits if the UK enforced quarantine measures while Spain did not.
In an interview with the BBC on June 16, Ms Gonzalez Laya said: “We will be checking what the UK will be doing and we will be in a dialogue with the UK to see whether or not we should be introducing reciprocity as they have different measures than the rest of the European Union.”
Do I need to self-quarantine when I come back to the UK?
Yes. But before you return to the UK you will need to provide details of your journey and contact details BEFORE you travel.
You must complete this online form – which you cannot submit until 48 hours before you’re due to arrive back in the UK.
If you refuse to provide contact details you could face a fine up to £100.
Details on what you can or cannot do while self-isolating can be found here.
Once you complete the form you will then be required to show it at the UK border – either a printed version or showing it on your phone is fine.
Can I cancel my holiday and will I get a refund?
If you have booked a package holiday to mainland Spain through Tui then it will be cancelled.
They scrapped all flights due to depart to mainland Spain up to and including August 9.
Those who are still planning to travel to the Balearic and Canary Islands are able to do so.
Tour operators like Jet2, Easyjet Holidays and British Airways Holidays will cancel package holidays.
You will be entitled to choose between re-booking or a cash refund.
You need to wait for the operators to cancel to claim refund – DO NOT cancel the holiday yourself.
If you have booked flights and accommodation separately it is unlikely you will get a refund – you may be able to re-book but that will depend on the terms and conditions of the hotel and airline.
What will happen to my flight?
If your flight isn’t cancelled you may not be able to claim a refund.
Easyjet and British Airways will continue to fly to Spain, despite the FCO warning.
Easyjet is allowing customers who no longer wish to travel to change their flight without a fee.
Customers will have to pay any difference if there is one and if the flight is cheaper than the original a voucher will be issued.
BA allows customers who booked from March 3 to cancel up to the day of departure and to receive a voucher for the flight.
Ryainair has waived its fee for flight changes on any bookings made at the start of this month, but will charge for bookings made before the date.
What will happen to my hotel booking?
Hotels in Spain are still open, meaning it is unlikely you will get a refund.
If the government orders your hotel to shut as part of an enforced lockdown – you can then claim for a refund on any unused nights.
If you want to cancel you need to check the T&Cs of the hotel.
Some booking websites like Booking.com and Airbnb do offer last minute cancellations.
Am I covered under travel insurance?
If you booked your holiday to Spain when the government said you could travel there and you are currently in Spain then you are covered under travel insurance.
That is because you booked while still adhering to FCO advice.
If you book your holiday to Spain NOW after FCO has advised against “all but essential travel” then you will not be covered.
Travel insurance will automatically by invalid if you’re going to a country where the Foreign Office is still advising against all but essential travel.
If you booked your holiday before FCO changed their travel advice, but you have yet to travel then tour operators should be offering re-booking or refund options for trips that cannot go ahead.
You should check your travel insurance policy to see if you are covered in the event of cancellations.
Again, you should wait for the airlines or accommodation to cancel in order to be eligible for any re-booking or refunds – DO NOT cancel it yourself.
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