The UK has added Spain’s Balearic Islands of Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera, as well as Malta, Madeira and some Caribbean islands to its travel green list. The measures come into effect from 4am on Wednesday 30 June. The rest of Spain remains on the amber list.
It follows the UK government’s latest three weekly review of restrictions for travel destinations, based on Covid epidemiological data and progress of on-going vaccination programmes.
This means that returning to the UK from Spain, other than from the Balearic Islands, will still currently require quarantine for 10 days and the UK government advises against non-essential travel. However, the UK government is also considering removing the requirement to quarantine for fully vaccinated UK travellers returning from amber listed countries. No date for this has been given other than ‘later in the summer’, and it is not clear whether the requirement to quarantine would still affect under 18s who are not currently eligible for vaccination in the UK (see full statement below).
Announcing the changes, the UK’s Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: ‘We’re moving forward with efforts to safely re-open international travel this summer, and thanks to the success of our vaccination programme, we’re now able to consider removing the quarantine period for fully vaccinated UK arrivals from amber countries – showing a real sign of progress. It’s right that we continue with this cautious approach, to protect public health and the vaccine rollout as our top priority, while ensuring that our route out of the international travel restrictions is sustainable.’
The UK’s Department for Transport has also said: ‘In recognition of our successful domestic vaccination programme, and as part of the Global Travel Taskforce’s checkpoint review, our intention is that later in the summer, arrivals who are fully vaccinated will not have to quarantine when travelling from amber list countries. We expect this to occur in phases, starting with UK residents. They will still be required to take a pre-departure test and a test on Day 2, and any positive results will be sequenced to continue to manage the risk of importing variants.’
‘At the same time,’ the announcement continued, ‘we intend to remove the guidance that people should not travel to amber countries. Pending decisions on whether under-18s should routinely be offered vaccination, we will also take clinical advice on whether regular testing can provide a safe alternative to quarantine for children accompanied by vaccinated adults. Further detail will be set out next month including the rules which will apply to children and those unable to be vaccinated, how we will operationalise this approach at the border, and the dates on which these changes will come into effect.’
The UK is currently experiencing a rise in Covid cases, largely due to the Delta variant that is prevalent there and is beginning to show signs of prevalence in Europe. The numbers of deaths and hospital admissions in the UK, however, remains consistently low.
As a precaution, the UK delayed the final stage of lifting its existing restrictions until 19 July, to reduce case numbers again and allow more of the adult population to be double vaccinated.
There is hope that the next travel review by the UK government, expected in another three weeks in mid-July, may move all of Spain to green, as the incidence rate here continues to decrease, and more of the population are vaccinated.
As concern around the Delta variant increases throughout Europe, Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has suggested that all European countries restrict entry for UK travellers. Currently, Britons must quarantine on arrival in Germany.
Speaking in Germany’s parliament this week, she said that ‘in our country, if you come from Great Britain, you have to go into quarantine – and that’s not the case in every European country, and that’s what I would like to see’.
This move would not be welcomed by the Spanish travel sector, who are desperate to see a return of international travellers.
Since 24 May, Spain officially lifted restrictions for UK travellers to allow non-essential travel without quarantine or the need to provide a PCR test, although a health declaration form is required.
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