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Spain stays on UK’s amber list, but PCR tests ‘advised’ for returning travellers

Latest: Coronavirus in Spain figures (20 Aug)

There has been relief in Spain’s tourism sector this week following news that the country is remaining on the UK government’s amber travel list, announced by the UK Transport Minister Grant Shapps.

There had been speculation that Spain was in danger of being added to an amber watchlist or even the red list of countries, in the UK’s ‘chaotic’ traffic light system, that would require a 10-day period of quarantine on return to the UK in a designated hotel that would be payable by the traveller.

Some countries were moved to the red list, including Mexico, Georgia, La Reunion and Mayotte.

The recent data in Spain has shown high rates of incidence of Covid throughout the country, with one of the highest overall rates in Europe. But the higher level of vaccination rate and the extent of the population vaccinated has allowed Spain to remain as an amber listed country in the latest UK government travel review. The next review is due in three weeks time.

There has been a change in advice, however, for returning travellers to take a PCR test in Spain within 72 hours of departure, rather than the cheaper antigen tests that had been allowed until now. However, PCR tests are not mandatory. Click here for further details under ‘Type of Test’.

This is because the UK wants to continue to monitor the levels of any Beta variant that may be picked up in Spain and brought back to the UK.

There has been uncertainty, however, as to how much of the testing data is followed up in the UK, and the travel industry is still frustrated by the on-going requirements for travellers to take numerous tests, often at a higher cost than some air fares.

People sunbathing on Barceloneta beach in Barcelona in 2019
People sunbathing on Barceloneta beach in Barcelona in 2019. (Vicente Zambrano González)

This is effectively still dampening the appetite of many UK travellers to book holidays in Spain and the industry does not expect numbers to increase significantly until testing requirements are less onerous or eliminated.

In the meantime, the announcement this week that Spain is remaining amber and not turning red did prompt a flurry of bookings and will be welcome news to the Spanish tourism sector.

There are strong hopes for the trend continuing in the same direction in the weeks ahead to salvage something from the summer season and prolong it as much as possible to increase international traveller numbers, especially as data revealed this week that the first six months of 2021 recorded the lowest number of international visitors on record.

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Ian Wilkinson 9th August 2021 at 10:28 am

Tax resident on holiday in UK, returning by ferry, and vaccinated in Spain some months ago: Obtained the passenger locator form from the Spanish health web site, and with all documents to hand, believed fit for travel !……………so where did this advice originate? how authentic is it ? could it just be an influential remark uttered by some UK politician with some interest other than simply public health? Enquiries of the UK web site did not offer a clue, neither did the Spanish health web site and the ferry company is still to answer as to exactly what documents will be needed to board, following this announcement…nor did this announcement clearly describe any difference in requirement between tourists and residents, vaccinated or not vaccinated travellers

Edward Baxter 23rd August 2021 at 9:23 am

Is this now a time for Spain to consider the wisedom of enforcing the 90 day rule for “swallows” Many of my friends who would normally spend 5 to 6 months of the winter in Spain are now looking to only spend the specified 90 days.

Spending from us “swallows” with accomodation food,entertainment is now halved trmoving a further three to four thousand per couple from the allready depleated tourist sector.
Many holiday home owners who came and went as they pleased, again spending their cash in Spain are now looking to sell up and look for areas outside the Schengen area.
Can Spain really afford this loss to others gain???????


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