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The UK has taken Spain off its list of safe destinations and advised ‘against all non-essential travel to mainland Spain’. Also from today, Sunday 26 July, any travellers returning from Spain to the UK (including from the Balearic Islands and Canary Islands) will be required to quarantine in self-isolation for 14 days.
It follows a surge in Coronavirus (Covid-19) cases in Spain, particularly in Catalonia and Aragón.
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Spain is one of the most popular summer destinations for Britons. The UK decision also comes as Spain’s tourism industry desperately seeks to capture what’s left of the holiday season after the lockdown.
Spain normally receives around 83m visitors a year, its tourism sector accounts for 12.3% of the country’s GDP – and it also generates more than 2.6m jobs in the country.
The UK government’s travel warning to Spain stated: ‘From 26 July, the FCO advises against all non-essential travel to mainland Spain based on the current assessment of Covid-19 risks. Only the Canary Islands (Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro and La Graciosa) and Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera) are exempt from the FCO advice against all non-essential international travel.’
‘This advice is based on evidence of increases in cases of Covid-19 in several regions, but particularly in Aragon, Navarra and Catalonia (which include the cities of Zaragoza, Pamplona and Barcelona).’
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‘The FCO is not advising those already travelling in Spain to leave at this time. Travellers should follow the advice of the local authorities on how best to protect themselves and others, including any measures that they bring in to control the virus. If you are returning from Spain (including from the Balearics and Canaries) on or after 26 July you will be required to quarantine on your return to the UK, but the FCO is not advising you to cut short your visit. You should contact your tour operator or airline if you have any questions about your return journey.’
The UK also stated that it would be monitoring the situation in the Balearic Islands and Canary Islands closely.
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A UK government spokesperson said:
‘The Joint Biosecurity Centre together with Public Health England (PHE) 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.’
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‘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 UK government said it also ‘urged employers to be understanding of those returning from Spain who now will need to self-isolate’.
TUI, Britain’s largest tour operator, has said it will ‘proactively contact all impacted customers to discuss their options’. Holiday groups have no legal obligation to provide refunds but will be under pressure to allow customers to delay their trips or change to other destinations, other than Spain.
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