Travel is more complicated than holidaymakers would prefer at the moment, and unfortunately there’s more bad news.

In a surprise move, the United Kingdom added Spain back onto its mandatory 14 day quarantine list, with virtually no lead time. Even travellers arriving the night of the news needed to quarantine.


UK Adds Quarantine For Spain

Visitors from Spain, and Brits returning from travel to the country will need to isolate in self quarantine for 14 days, effective 12:01AM, July 26th, 2020. The country is experiencing isolated rises in covid-19 cases, primarily in Catalonia, which Spanish authorities claim are in line with modeling.

Many tourist areas of Spain, particularly the Spanish islands including the Balearics and Canaries are largely unaffected by new rises in cases, which makes the sudden move even more confusing. Spain’s covid-19 response has been almost identical to UK figures in recent weeks.

The move is a devastating twist for travellers currently abroad or planning to be shortly, as well as visitors hoping to enter the UK. For any potential airline recovery, it’s worse. The UK Government has applied essential travel only notices for all of Spain, meaning insurance won’t automatically cover a trip.

Even UK Transportation Secretary, Grant Shapps has been caught out by the no notice UK Gov move, and will need to isolate upon return.

Offering less than a days notice has left many questioning not the spirit of the move, but the enactment, and why it needed to include the entire country, rather than cities dealing with small rises in case counts.

Explained: The UK Stoplight Travel System

In response to covid-19, the UK adopted a “stoplight” travel system, with green, orange and red countries, signifying the risks and protocols for travel.

Green or orange means travellers can visit these destinations without the need to quarantine upon their return to the UK, and visitors from these countries can enter the UK without needing to quarantine either.

Crucially, most countries in these green and orange lists are no longer considered “essential travel only”, which means insurance is once again valid. Red countries, however, are not so lucky. A red country on the UK stoplight system signifies a place where ongoing risks of covid-19 spread are deemed too high to allow visitors or returning UK travelers to enter without 14 days of mandatory quarantine.

Poble Espanyol - traditional architectures in Barcelona, Spain

Disaster For UK Summer Travel

Potential for secondary spikes or unease always meant that approved green or orange countries could become red once again, and that’s now the case for Spain. As a favored destination of the UK market, it’s brutal for summer holiday plans.

The news highlights just how dynamic travel is at the moment, and means the vast majority of travellers will be forced to cancel trips, unable to isolate at home, or as visitors for 14 days upon arrival into the UK.

With flights still departing, many travellers could find increased difficulty in receiving refunds, as opposed to vouchers, and those traveling in the immediate future may face late cancellation penalties on accommodation.

Spain has also be deemed essential travel only on the UK Government Foreign Travel Advice website, which means insurance will become a tricky matter, and any trips which are taken would not automatically be covered.

The move is likely to cause new tension between the UK and Spanish authorities, and draw incredible frustration from airlines desperate for recovery, including British Airways, Iberia, Ryanair and EasyJet, which operate the highest frequency flights to Spain.

If you were thinking of sitting this summer out, it’s easy to understand why.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. The ineptitude of the UK Government continues to know no bounds. Just as there is a glimmer of dawn for the travel industry it arbitrarily Quarantine all of Spain despite it’s islands and much of the mainland are far less risky than it’s own shores!

    Perhaps it’s part of their ‘green’ recovery plan. Put the entire UK travel industry out of business and bingo emissions reduced 🤬

  2. “”which Spanish authorities claim are in line with models and absolutely do not represent a second wave.” – quote in this article.
    “”Spanish officials have also warned a second wave could be imminent as major cities have seen cases surge.”” – quote on BBC news.
    I wonder which one is the truth. Clearly the UK Government and UK health advisors are more impressed by what they have learnt talking to their counterparts in Spain.
    I hope both for the sake of Spain and tourism in general that this spike in cases is short-lived.

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