Update 10pm Sat 25 July: This story broke late on Saturday – we’ve basic info below but will be adding to it in the coming days. For general help on your travel rights and holiday refunds, see our Coronavirus Travel Rights guide.
Spain was one of the countries that was reopened for overseas holidays from Britain earlier this month, when the UK Government started lifting travel restrictions – until today, the Foreign Office was no longer warning against non-essential travel there, and it had been exempted from quarantine requirements for returning travellers. But on Saturday evening the Government issued new guidance. It said:
- Travellers arriving from Spain on or after Sunday 26 July must quarantine for two weeks. This includes returning British holidaymakers, and applies to those arriving in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland from any part of Spain, including the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands, such as Mallorca and Ibiza. Under the quarantine rules, arrivals must self-isolate in their home or accommodation for 14 days – for more on how it works, see UK quarantine requirements.
- The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has issued a warning against all non-essential travel to mainland Spain from Sunday 26 July onwards. However this does NOT include the Canary Islands or Balearic Islands.
As well as being a useful safety guide, FCO warnings are important because they’re often the trigger for travel insurance cover. When one is in place, it MAY mean you can claim on insurance if you can’t travel, though that depends very much on what policy you have, when you took it out and when you booked (see Am I covered by my travel insurance? for more help). Equally, if you decide to travel despite an FCO warning it means travel insurance is unlikely to be valid, though there are exceptions.
- Brits already in Spain AREN’T being told to leave early. The Foreign Office said: “Travellers should follow the advice of the local authorities on how best to protect themselves and others, including any measures that they bring in to control the virus. If you are returning from Spain (including from the Balearics and Canaries) on or after 26 July you will be required to quarantine on your return to the UK, but the FCO is not advising you to cut short your visit.”
The announcement is likely to cast doubt on thousands of holidaymakers’ plans and have huge implications for the struggling travel industry. Package holiday firm Tui has already said it will cancel planned holidays to Spain and customers will be contacted to discuss options. However British Airways and Easyjet said flights will continue to operate.
For full help on your travel rights and how to get a refund if your holiday’s been cancelled, see our Coronavirus Travel Rights guide. Also see our Top 15+ holiday destinations from the UK – which can you travel to hassle-free? guide.
What does the Government say?
A UK Government spokesman said: “The Joint Biosecurity Centre together with Public Health England have updated their coronavirus assessments of Spain based on the latest data.
“As a result, Spain has been removed from the lists of countries from which passengers arriving in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are exempted from the need to self-isolate.
“Protecting public health is our absolute priority and we have taken this decision to limit any potential spread to the UK. We’ve always been clear that we would act immediately to remove a country where necessary.
“Both our list of quarantine exemptions and the FCO travel advice are being updated to reflect these latest risk assessments.”
Additional reporting by PA Media.