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Travelling to Spain: Everything you need to know about new coronavirus quarantine rules


By Gregor White

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Spanish beaches have been busier than this since quarantine rules were lifted – but could empty again now.
Spanish beaches have been busier than this since quarantine rules were lifted – but could empty again now.

Holidaymakers are facing tough choices after the rules around travel to and from Spain were changed.

The Scottish Government has followed the rest of the UK in now requiring anyone arriving in the country from Spain to quarantine for 14 days.

Though there have been suggestions this may be reduced to 10 days in the near future the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is advising people to travel to Spain for essential reasons only.

The government announcement, which came in the wake of a spike of cases in the tourist hotspot, has left many already abroad facing quarantine when they arrive home, and those with breaks booked a dilemma on whether to travel.

Here's everything you need to know about the new quarantine rules...

So what's changed?

Spain has been removed from the travel corridors list, a pool of countries from which travellers do not have to self-isolate when they arrive.

It means anyone arriving in the UK from Spain will have to quarantine for 14 days.

Why has this happened?

The government says it has been forced to take action following a "significant change over the last week in both the level and pace of change in confirmed cases" in Spain.

More than 900 new cases of the virus were reported on Friday, with Spanish officials warning a second wave could be imminent as major cities have seen worrying spikes.

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.

Scotland initially lifted travel restrictions to Spain later than the rest of the UK but Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said the data made the reimposition of quarantine requirements necessary.

"The decision to exempt Spain earlier this week, was taken when the data showed there was an improvement in the spread of the virus," he said.

"But clearly the latest data has given us cause for concern to overturn that decision.

"We appreciate that this will be disappointing.

"However, we have always been clear we are closely monitoring the pandemic situation in all countries and that we may require to remove a country from the list of places exempt from quarantine requirements should the virus show a resurgence.

"It is still active and it is still deadly.

"Supressing the virus, preventing it from being transmitted and protecting public health is our priority."

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said people "need to be aware" travel rules could easily change either between the time of booking and travel or while they are actually on holiday.

"You cannot assume – and you heard me say that last week – you cannot assume that the rules and regulations applying to or in your destination when you book a holiday will stay the same while you are there or be the same when you come to travel home," she said during today's Scottish Government coronavirus briefing.

"And again as I have said before, but I like to reiterate this point very strongly today, my advice to you remains to be very cautious about non-essential foreign travel at this time.

"And if you are in a position to have a holiday and want to take a holiday, the safest way of doing so, is to stay here in Scotland so you avoid the risks of foreign travel but you are also, as an added bonus, helping the Scottish tourism industry as well."

So can I still travel to Spain?

You can, but the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is warning against all but essential travel to the country.

This has specific ramifications on refunds and cancellations, and can invalidate travel insurance if you ignore the advice.

The rules apply to all parts of Spain, including the Canary and Balearic Islands.

Will I have to self-isolate in Spain?

No, but travellers entering Spain will have to do three things:

  • Provide the Spanish Ministry of Health with mandatory contact information and any history of exposure to Covid-19 48 hours prior to travel
  • Undergo a temperature check
  • Undergo a visual health assessment

I'm in Spain now – do I have to come home, and what do I do when arrive?

You don't have to finish your stay early, but when you arrive back in the UK you will have to self-isolate for 14 days.

There is no exemption for those already on holiday.

But I need to go back to work?

There are no exemptions – you will have to quarantine for two weeks.

The FCO is urging employers to be understanding of those returning from Spain who now will need to self-isolate.

Quarantine rules have been reimposed for anyone arriving in the UK from Spain.
Quarantine rules have been reimposed for anyone arriving in the UK from Spain.

What exactly does quarantine involve?

Arriving travellers are required to go direct to their home or to other suitable accommodation and immediately self-isolate for 14 days.

They can leave home only for medical assistance, to attend court or a funeral – or to go shopping for essentials if there is no one else who can supply provisions.

Leaving home for work, exercise, socialising or walking the dog is not permitted.

Key workers are not exempt in most circumstances.

Can I cancel my holiday?

With the FCO advising against all but essential travel to Spain, tour operators have a duty to offer you an alternative holiday or a full refund.

Those who have booked flights and accommodation independently would have to consult the terms and conditions of their bookings and check with their airline or accommodation supplier to see if they are entitled to a refund or an alternative.

Is my travel insurance valid?

If the Foreign and Commonwealth Office warns against all travel or all but essential travel to your holiday destination before you get there, you will not be covered by your travel insurance, which means that any claims you make will not be paid if you choose to travel against its advice.

If the FCO issues a warning while you are in an affected region you will be covered as normal under the medical and personal accident sections of your travel insurance policy, so long as you follow the latest FCO advice for British nationals already in the area.

Are flights being cancelled?

Tui, the UK’s biggest tour operator, cancelled all flights due to depart to mainland Spain and the Canary Islands on Sunday.

British Airways says it is "disappointed" about the latest changes to the government's travel advice and rules, although its flights are continuing to operate.

Budget airline EasyJet has said it will continue to operate a full schedule in the coming days.

"Customers who no longer wish to travel can transfer their flights without a change fee or receive a voucher for the value of the booking," the company added.

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