People returning to the UK from Spain will now need to self-isolate for two weeks, with the country having been removed from the travel corridors list.
The move follows what the UK government describes as a “significant change” over the last week in both the level and pace of change in confirmed cases in the Iberian country.
Travellers currently on holiday in Spain are encouraged to follow the local rules, return home as normal and check the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s advice pages.
The body is currently advising against all but essential travel to mainland Spain, though this does not cover the Canary Islands or the Balearic Islands.
Authorities argue Covid-19 infection rates are lower there than mainland Spain, making travel safer.
People will still need to self-isolate when returning from anywhere in Spain as well as the Canary and Balearic Islands because self-isolation arrangements are put in place on the basis of risk to the UK as a whole.
A government spokesperson 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.
“We have always been clear that we would act immediately to remove a country where necessary.”
The spokesperson added: “The government has made consistently clear it will take decisive action if necessary, to contain the virus, including if the public health risk of people returning from a particular country and not self-isolating becomes too high.”
The devolved administrations have all taken the same decision today, so travellers arriving from Spain into all parts of the UK will need to self-isolate.
The government is urging employers to be understanding of those returning from Spain who now will need to self-isolate.
Responding decision, Charlie Cornish, group chief executive of MAG, said: “The government is right to respond when infection rates spike in particular regions, as they are in Catalonia.
“But applying these changes to the whole of Spain is unnecessary and will cause huge disruption for passengers.
“Thousands of British holiday makers are now faced with quarantine on their return from Spain and its islands, even if they have been in areas with much lower risk levels than the UK.
“The government must work quickly to develop a system that is properly risk-based which enables people to continue enjoying holidays in regions with low infections rates, while retaining the flexibility to temporarily restrict travel to areas with rising rates, regardless of the country they are in.
“This will give British holidaymakers, airlines and tour operators the ability to plan their travel with confidence and give the aviation and tourism sectors the best chance of a strong recovery, which in turn will boost the economy and protect jobs.”
MAG owns and operates Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands Airports.
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