International travel to Spain looks set to resume in the weeks ahead, following a recommendation from the European Commission’s executive and an expected announcement from the UK government later this week.
This follows the EU chief, Ursula von der Leyen, hinting last week that fully vaccinated US tourists would be able to visit Europe this summer.
The EU Commission has recommended that foreign citizens who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and travelling from countries with a good epidemiological situation should be allowed to travel into the EU without additional restrictions.
The recommendations would allow vaccinated travellers this freedom from June, although it is not clear yet about the requirements for British travellers, with the government expected to announce a traffic light system over the next few days, to be in place from 17 May.
The UK system will place countries onto green, amber and red lists, with different rules about requirements for quarantine for travellers returning for each list.
The green list, with no quarantine requirements, is expected to have only a handful of countries initially, with Portugal, Malta and Gibraltar most likely to be included from 17 May.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce plans at the end of this week, with government ministers meeting over the next couple of days to finalise the framework that will be implemented.
Johnson has stressed that the cautious start to opening up the UK to international travel is to ensure that there is no ‘influx of disease’ whilst other countries continue to roll out vaccination programmes and improve their epidemiological data.
The British government will also reserve the right to quickly remove countries from green or amber lists if cases rapidly rise in specific countries.
The green list is expected to still require testing before travel, but no quarantine on returning, therefore making these destinations much more appealing to British tourists.
Spain and France are expected to be placed on the amber list initially, which will require travellers to quarantine at home on returning.
With Spain’s vaccination programme beginning to take on more of a pace and encouraging data on case numbers in recent days, it is hoped that the country may be placed on the UK’s green list later in the summer, allowing Britons to travel without the requirement to quarantine on return.
This would bring a much-needed boost to Spain’s tourism sector, that it is keen to open up to British and other international travellers as soon as permitted and begin its recovery from a year of significantly reduced revenues.
EU member states are holding meetings over the next couple of days to agree on how borders will re-open, with an expectation that there will be a gradual phasing out of the requirements for travellers to undergo Covid testing before or after arrival, or to quarantine.
The proposals that are being considered by the EU member states would allow travel into the EU for people who had received, at least 14 days before arrival, the final dose of an authorised vaccine.
There will also be consideration of a country’s Covid data, with unvaccinated travellers allowed to travel from a country with a ‘good epidemiological situation’.
This would potentially allow younger tourists from the UK to visit Spain with limited or no restrictions imposed.
Spain’s tourism and hospitality sectors will be closely following the announcements from the EU and Britain this week, as it plans ahead for the summer and a much hoped for return to international tourism.