Spain added to coronavirus quarantine list: What does it mean for holidaymakers?

Ellen Manning
·4-min read
19 July 2020, Spain, Palma de Mallorca: People enjoy the sun on the beach of El Arenal. While bars have been closed on party miles in Mallorca, the beaches are still open. Photo: Clara Margais/dpa (Photo by Clara Margais/picture alliance via Getty Images)
What does the decision to add Spain to the quarantine list mean for British holidaymakers? (Getty)

The government has removed Spain from its list of safe countries, meaning holidaymakers returning from the country, including its islands, will have to self-isolate for two weeks then they get back to the UK.

The move comes amid concerns that Spain is experiencing a second wave of coronavirus infections.

On Sunday Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab stood by the sudden decision to reimpose strict quarantine rules at short notice on travellers returning from Spain, calling the measures “absolutely necessary”.

But the government has been urged to take a more “targeted” approach to quarantine rules after holidaymakers were left “shocked and confused” by the decision.

So what do the changes mean for holidaymakers?

What do the changes mean?

The changes, which came into effect from midnight on Saturday, mean that from Sunday all returning travellers will have to quarantine themselves for 14 days.

It applies to people returning to any of the four nations of the UK – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Quarantine measures will apply to those returning from mainland Spain, the Canary Islands (Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro and La Graciosa) and the Balearic Islands, such as Majorca and Ibiza.

However, Spain has said it is in conversation with the UK about exempting the Canary and Balearic islands from the requirement.

The decision to introduce quarantine measures was made after Spain recorded more than 900 fresh daily Covid-19 cases for two days running. (PA)
The decision to introduce quarantine measures was made after Spain recorded more than 900 fresh daily coronavirus cases for two days running. (PA)

Why have the measures been brought in now?

The Government said the move followed a “significant change” over the previous week in the level and pace of change in confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Spain, which has reported more than 900 new daily infections for the past two days.

Catalonia has become the latest region to crack down on nightlife as it tries to limit new infection clusters, ordering all nightclubs to close for 15 days and puting a midnight curfew on bars in the greater Barcelona area and other towns around Lleida.

What should people do if they are already in Spain?

People who are currently on holiday in Spain are encouraged to follow local rules, return home as normal and check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s (FCO) travel advice pages on gov.uk for further information.

The FCO is not advising those already travelling in Spain to leave.

Abta – the UK’s travel trade association – advised customers in the country to continue their holidays and return as normal.

What should you go do if you have a trip to Spain booked?

The FCO is advising against all but essential travel to mainland Spain.

Holiday operator Tui has said it will cancel all planned holidays to Spain customers will be contacted to discuss options.

Abta has advised customers due to travel to the country imminently to contact their travel provider.

However, budget airline easyJet said it planned to operate its full schedule in the coming days.

What about my travel insurance?

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has said it was “likely” that travel insurance will remain in place for holidaymakers already in Spain until they return home.

However, those attempting to travel to countries against FCO advice would invalidate their travel insurance.

The ABI said people who booked a trip or took out travel insurance after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic may not be covered for travel disruption or cancellation. In either case, travellers should check with their insurer.

Will I get penalised by my employer if I have to go into quarantine?

Dominic Raab said no worker following quarantine guidance should be penalised by employers, including by being put onto sick pay.

The conciliation service Acas advised employees returning from Spain to talk to their employer as soon as possible.

It said unless employees are actually ill, they are unlikely to qualify for statutory sick pay – although an employer could still offer to pay this if it wanted to.

If they have previously been furloughed, they could agree to a further period of furlough to cover the isolation period. Or they could agree a further period of annual leave, a period of unpaid leave or a mix of the two.

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