Click here for today’s full report: Coronavirus in Spain (5 May)
Report below updated in Spain at 12h on 21 March
The British Embassy in Spain has published a new video from British Ambassador Hugh Elliott aimed at British travellers in Spain, particularly those trying to return to the UK. The Embassy has also issued a Q&A to address some of the most frequently asked questions. Most of the Q&A is below, and you can also view it via the Embassy’s Facebook page.
We know you still have lots of questions about returning to the UK from Spain, so today we have uploaded a Q&A to provide further guidance. Here’s my latest message ???? #coronavirus https://t.co/RjxiN4LsdK pic.twitter.com/G3dTSLocvD
— Hugh Elliott (@HughElliottUK) March 19, 2020
British Embassy Q&A – Important advice for British travellers seeking to return to the UK
Hotels in Spain
Are hotels closing?
Yes, the Spanish government has confirmed that hotel and short-term accommodation must close by midnight 26 March. Some hotels have begun closing already in different parts of Spain in response to the emergency measures. Advice from the British Embassy is that British travellers who wish to return to the UK, should make plans to do so as soon as possible.
Hotels will close by midnight 26 March. I don’t have a flight or anywhere to go. What should I do?
The British Embassy advise British travellers who wish to return to the UK, to make plans to do so as soon as possible. You should look at your airline’s website or other flight comparison websites (e.g. skyskcanner.net / lastminute.com / gotogate.com) for further information to arrange travel back to the UK. You may need to be flexible about your destination airport in the UK and your preferred date/time of travel.
Am I going to be kicked out of my hotel?
The Spanish authorities may ask British travellers to move hotels, as guests are being grouped into smaller numbers of hotels but the Spanish tourism authorities have underlined that no-one will be left without accommodation. The Embassy advises British tourists in Spain who wish to return to the UK to make travel plans to do so as soon as possible.
My hotel has closed but I don’t have a flight back to the UK yet? I don’t have anywhere to stay?
There are still hotels open in most parts of Spain, but you may need to phone around or use hotel comparison websites (e.g. lastminute.com / booking.com) to find alternative accommodation, including self-catering options. The Spanish tourism authorities have said that no-one should be left without accommodation.
Again, current advice is that British travellers who wish to return to the UK should make plans to do so as soon as possible. You should look at your airline’s website or other flight comparison websites (eg, skyscanner.com / lastminute.com or gotogate.com) for further information to arrange travel back to the UK. You may need to be flexible about your destination airport in the UK and the preferred date/time of travel.
Can’t get through to airline?
Airlnes and ferry companies are experiencing a high volume of calls. Check their websites for latest information or other flight comparison websites (e.g. skyskcanner.net / lastminute.com / gotogate.com) for further information to arrange travel back to the UK. You may need to be flexible about your destination airport in the UK and your preferred date/time of travel.
The Embassy is working closely with airlines to ensure that flights continue to operate and that British nationals can get home as soon as possible.
Can’t afford flight back?
In very exceptional circumstances, and as a last resort, the UK Foreign Office may be able to provide an emergency loan from public funds to help you return home. This is discretionary and will only be considered if you have exhausted all other methods of getting funds.
Will the UK repatriate people back from Spain?
Assisted departure will only be offered in the most exceptional circumstances. There remain commercial options for British tourists to return from Spain. British tourists in Spain should speak to their travel provider and follow the guidance of local authorities.
Ferries back to UK
Can’t get through to ferry company?
Airlines and ferry companies are experiencing a high volume of calls. Check their website for latest information.
The last ferry from Spain is due to depart from Santander on Saturday 21 March. If you are not booked onto that ferry, you should make alternative arrangements to return to the UK. Please see our question on driving back to the UK.
British travellers in Spain
Do the emergency measures apply to British travellers on holiday in Spain?
Yes, they do. British travellers should follow the instructions of the local authorities. Anyone found to be breaching these instructions may subject to action by the local authorities, including fines and possible arrest.
Can I drive to the airport?
The emergency measures restrict travel within Spain, but travel to the airport to return to the UK is an accepted reason. You may need to provide evidence of your journey (i.e. plane ticket). Friends or family can also drive you to the airport, but should keep evidence of the reason (e.g. a photo of travel tickets in case stopped on the return home) and comply with the police restrictions on travel.
We know that travel to airports is causing confusion, especially for those trying to take taxis, or travelling together. There are restrictions in place on vehicle occupancy and you might have to travel separately. Minors and disabled people can be accompanied on journeys to the airport.
I have a house in Spain. Can I stay in it or do I have to go back to the UK?
If you are resident here for all or part of the year, rather than just visiting as a short-stay tourist, you can stay if you wish and your residential circumstances allow you to abide by the local instructions (eg cater for yourself etc). The Embassy advises UK nationals who wish to go back to the UK to do so as soon as possible. If you choose to stay now you should be aware that your travel options may become more limited in the coming weeks
Driving back to the UK through France
Can I drive back through France?
Spain is not restricting land border crossings from Spain to France. To drive back through France, the French authorities require that you fill in a declaration to explain your reason for travel, you should also have evidence of your onward travel plan (ie ferry/rail ticket). Please check the British Embassy’s travel advice page for France for the latest information: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/france
Healthcare and EHIC use in Spain – advice from the British Embassy:
If you are temporarily in the Balearics and you need to see the doctor, please be reassured that the UK EHIC is still valid for the rest of 2020 and will cover you for any necessary treatment. You must call 902 079 079 or 971 43 70 79 before going to the healthcare centre for non-emergencies. The line is experiencing a lot of calls, please continue to ring. You will get through to someone. Due to Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak, you must follow the advice of local authorities, comply with self-isolation, testing or quarantine requirements. Please see here for details on gov.uk and here for further information from the Spanish authorities. The latest UK health advice is at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/.
Here is also the message from British Ambassador Hugh Elliott:
‘As part of the effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the Spanish Government has ordered the closure of all short-stay accommodation by Thursday 26 March. I want to reassure you that the Spanish authorities have told us very clearly that no one will be left without accommodation, however, it does make it even more important that you arrange your return journey as soon as possible. Flights are still operating from Spain to the UK and tens of thousands of British citizens have successfully returned to the UK in the past few days. Do consult your airline’s website for the latest information and if you need to book a new flight you can also try comparison websites. I know that in some places this is proving difficult. We are continuing to liaise with the airlines and Spanish authorities as the situation evolves. We will update our advice regularly. Thank you for your continued patience and understanding.’
Below are the numbers to call for each region of Spain for information and assistance in the event of possible cases of Coronavirus – as issued by the Spanish health authorities.
Up-to-date WHO advice and facts (in English) about the Coronavirus epidemic can be found here: www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/technical-guidance.
Our previous reports on Coronavirus in Spain:
ALSO READ: Coronavirus in Spain full update (20 March)
ALSO READ: ‘This virus we will stop together’ – video
ALSO READ: Coronavirus in Spain full update (19 March)
ALSO READ: Spain to close its land borders
ALSO READ: Coronavirus in Spain update (15 March)
ALSO READ: Coronavirus in Spain update – 11 March
ALSO READ: Coronavirus in Spain update – 10 March
ALSO READ: Coronavirus in Spain update – 8 March