Jetting off on a foreign holiday from the UK is possible under a traffic light system, with countries classified as green, amber or red and prescribed restrictions to match based on the risk of arrivals importing new Covid-19 infections.
Although holidays are no longer prohibited, there are still myriad hoops travellers must jump through, including pre-departure and post-arrival coronavirus tests taken within a certain timeframe. The government is currently advising that Brits should not be visiting amber or red countries for recreational purposes.
On 24 June, transport secretary Grant Shapps announced the latest updates to the traffic light lists, with 16 destinations moved from amber to green and seven downgraded from amber to red.
The lists are being reviewed and updated every three weeks.
Spain and its islands have long been a favourite destination for Britons, with more than 18 million holidaymakers visiting this Mediterranean hotspot in a normal year. However, the coronavirus pandemic has decimated the travel industry.
But how likely is a Spanish getaway this summer – and what are the current rules on travel? Here’s everything you need to know.
Are British holidaymakers allowed to travel to Spain this summer?
Spain’s Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, had originally said the nation would be “more than delighted” to welcome back British tourists without any restrictions – there were previously no testing, quarantine or vaccination requirements for UK arrivals.
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However, following a surge in cases linked to the more transmissible Delta virus variant in the UK, Spain has announced that British holidaymakers must present either a negative Covid test (PCR, TMA, LAMP or NEAR) or proof of full vaccination in order to gain entry to the country as of 2 July.
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Before travel to Spain, passengers must also complete and sign an online Health Control Form no more than 48 hours prior to travel, declaring any known history of exposure to Covid-19 and giving contact details.
Anyone who has not completed this form electronically via the Spain Travel Health website or app may submit it in paper format prior to boarding.
Is Spain on the amber list?
Mainland Spain remains on the government’s ‘amber’ list and current advice states that Brits should not be visiting amber or red countries for recreational purposes. (This is guidance only, rather than law – there is no legal impediment to travelling to Spain for a holiday.)
Travel to an amber country also triggers 10 days of self-isolation and three negative Covid tests for those arriving back into the UK.
However, Spain’s Balearic Islands, including holiday favourites Mallorca, Ibiza and Menorca, were added to the government’s “green watchlist” in the latest review by the Department for Transport (DfT) on 24 June.
This means that travellers from there arriving back in the UK after 4am on 30 June no longer have to quarantine, and must simply present a negative test before their return journey, and take a PCR test within two days of entering Britain.
Will Spain join the green list in the next review?
Nothing is ever certain in the ongoing game of traffic-light travel roulette. The next review of the lists is expected on 15 July, with changes coming into effect around a week later. There is a slim chance that mainland Spain could make the quarantine-free green list or green watchlist, but it looks unlikely at present – industry experts are predicting that the widespread opening of European travel, including to Spain, might not be on the cards until the following review in early August. And even then, there’s no guarantee…
What does travel to an amber list country entail?
Holidaymakers travelling home from a destination on the amber list will need to take a pre-departure test – which can be a lateral flow or rapid antigen test, as well as a PCR test – with proof of a negative result.
Upon arrival to the UK from an amber list country, travellers must self-isolate at home for 10 days, plus have pre-booked and paid to take two PCR tests: one on day two and one on day eight.
Returning travellers in England can opt to pay for a further test on day five and end self-isolation early if it’s negative.
Will I need to have been vaccinated to visit Spain?
No – although if you haven’t been double jabbed at least 14 days prior to entering Spain, you must present a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours of arrival.
What restrictions are in place in Spain?
From 26 June, it is no longer mandatory to wear a face mask outdoors where social distancing of 1.5 metres is observed. However, face mask use remains mandatory for anyone over the age of six years in the following circumstances:
In any enclosed space open to the public (e.g. shops, restaurants, hotels, hospitals etc.)
In any indoor space where people who are not from the same household mix
In any outdoor space where it is not possible to observe social distancing of 1.5m (e.g. crowded streets, concerts, public demonstrations etc.)
On all forms of public transport including planes, trains, trams, buses and metro, as well as all transport stations, platforms and airports.
Specific rules on the use of face masks may vary between regions. You should refer to local authorities for specific information on face-covering requirements and any exceptions where you are.
Penalties may be imposed if you do not comply.