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

Brit holidaymakers were left shocked yesterday as it was revealed anyone arriving in the UK from today will have to self-isolate for two weeks.

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.

Fuengirola on the Costa Del Sol in Spain Picture: Stefan Rousseau, PA
Fuengirola on the Costa Del Sol in Spain Picture: Stefan Rousseau, PA

With so many questions troubling sunseekers in Kent, 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 74 countries from which travellers to the UK do not have to self-isolate when they arrive.

It means as of midnight last night, anyone arriving in the UK from Spain will have to quarantine for 14 days.

Holidaymakers have been left ‘shocked and confused’ by Spain’s removal from the safe countries list
Holidaymakers have been left ‘shocked and confused’ by Spain’s removal from the safe countries list

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.

A UK 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.

"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."

Spain has seen a surge in new coronavirus cases
Spain has seen a surge in new coronavirus cases

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 European hotspot.

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

What about the Canary Islands and Balearics?

Anyone arriving back from these island destinations - which include Tenerife, Ibiza, Majorca - will also have to self-isolate for 14 days.

But interestingly, the Government is not warning against all but essential travel to either the Canaries or Balaerics.

It means anyone wishing to cancel their holiday will likely face a tougher time securing a refund.

A Government spokesman said: "PHE are continuing to monitor the situation in the Balearic and Canary Islands closely. Travellers there should continue to check this advice regularly."

People arriving in the UK from Majorca will have to self-isolate, but the island is among those exempt from government advice against all but essential travel
People arriving in the UK from Majorca will have to self-isolate, but the island is among those exempt from government advice against all but essential travel

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.

Among those affected by the news is Chloe Harris, 23, from Gillingham, who booked a last-minute trip to Lanzarote and arrived on the Spanish island yesterday morning.

“When I heard the news I was quite shocked because I thought they would have given us some warning," she said. "Even just some warning that this was something they were going to consider.”

A Government spokesman said: "The FCO is not advising those already travelling in Spain to leave at this time. 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."

TUI cancelled all of its flights to mainland Spain on Sunday Pic: Stock pic
TUI cancelled all of its flights to mainland Spain on Sunday Pic: Stock pic

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.

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.

Easyjet is continue to operate a full schedule
Easyjet is continue to operate a full schedule

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 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.

Managing director Andrew Flintham confirmed the company would contact customers to arrange refunds or rebookings, but added: “We’re incredibly disappointed that we didn’t get more notice of this announcement, or that this decision wasn’t made yesterday, as many Brits travel on holiday at the weekend.”

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.

Travellers from Spain will have to self-isolate in the UK for 14 days Pic: Vikki Lince
Travellers from Spain will have to self-isolate in the UK for 14 days Pic: Vikki Lince

How has the travel industry taken the news?

On the whole, not well.

London-based World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) said the decision to remove Spain from the travel corridor exemption list was “disastrous” for the travel and tourism industry, both in Spain and the UK.

Gloria Guevara, WTTC president and chief executive, said: “While the health and safety of travellers – as well as those who work within the travel and tourism industry – is paramount, this move will be a bitter blow for those holidaymakers already in Spain who will now be forced into isolation when they return home.

Rory Boland, editor of consumer rights magazine Which? Travel, said: “Many holidaymakers will be deeply angry that the Government didn’t make this decision 48 hours ago, before tens of thousands of them flew off for their summer holidays in Spain.

“Many would not have travelled if they had known they’d face 14 days of quarantine on their return.”

For the latest coronavirus news and advice, click here.

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