As the UK Government confirms that a traffic light system will come into force this year when international travel is permitted, the question everyone wants to be answered is “Will Spain be on the green list?”
The Governments global travel task force reported on April 9, that countries will be categorised according to the infection rates, the number of vaccinations administered, the prevalence rates and the prominence of variants of concern.
At present, under England's current lockdown roadmap rules, the earliest date that international holidays may be permitted is May 17.
So how will the traffic system work?
Countries that are placed in the ‘green’ category will require travellers to take a pre-departure test, plus a PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test on day two after their arrival back into the UK.
Self-isolation will not be required upon returning unless a positive test result is given, and any additional tests will not be required.
Those travelling to countries in the ‘amber’ category will need to take a pre-departure test, self-isolate for 10 days on their return to the UK, and take a PCR test on day two and day eight.
These travellers will also have an option to take an additional test on day five to end self-isolation early.
Finally, travellers visiting countries in the ‘red’ category will be subject to the current travel restrictions that include, a managed stay in a quarantine hotel, pre-departure testing and mandatory PCR testing on day two and again on day eight.
The Department for Transport said it is still “too early to predict which countries will be on which list over the summer”.
A spokesperson said: “These decisions will be driven by the data and evidence nearer the time, which we cannot predict now.
“In advance of the resumption of non-essential international travel, we will set out our initial assessment of which countries will fall into which category.
“Thereafter countries will move between the red, amber and green lists depending on the data.”
At present, it is highly unlikely that Spain will find itself in the ‘green’ category, as the country has seen a spike in cases since Easter.
Fernando Simón, the Government's Chief Epidemiologist said that Spain is “now in the midst of a fourth wave of coronavirus”.
Since April 1 there have been 78,862 new Covid-19 cases, which has put increasing pressure on the country’s healthcare system.
Spain's incidence rate is currently rising with the 14-day cumulative number of cases jumping 20 per cent in a week.
The average 14-day infection rate has risen from 128 cases per 100,000 on March 23 to 199 cases per 100,000 on April 12.
In comparison, the UK’s seven-day rate of coronavirus cases per 100,000 people stands at just 28.6.
The Secretary of State for Tourism has warned that despite Spain being in the midst of a fourth Covid wave, it cannot afford the financial blow of another summer with limited tourism.
With the summer season just around the corner, the potential setbacks the country’s tourism industry is facing, appear to be mounting up.
In addition, Spain's vaccination campaign appears to face new hold-ups every time it looks like it is gathering speed. This will also limit the country’s chances of making the safe list this summer.
Many tourists have been put off from spending their summer holidays in Spain because of the newly modified rule of wearing ‘masks at all time in public’. This, as well as the increasing infection rate, is seeing Spain less likely to be viewed as a safe country to visit in the epidemiology sense.
During a talk at Nebrija University in Madrid on Wednesday, Spain’s Secretary of State for Tourism Fernando Valdés said “We have a serious problem, Spain cannot afford a summer like 2020”.
“Since the consolidation of mass tourism in Spain we’ve never faced anything similar”.
Last year, during the high season of July through to September, the number of foreign tourists fell by a massive 79 per cent.
Tourism is a huge part of the Spanish economy, accounting for some 12 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) and 13 per cent of employment.
“With the pandemic, we have learned that consensus is necessary to reach solutions,” Valdés added.
“Tourism is the only sector capable of generating and balancing wealth. The ability we have to diversify our offer will be what will give us competitiveness”.
He went on to explain how the plan of action to bring back international tourists as quickly as possible will be based on a few things, including social, environmental, sustainable and territorial transformation.
He argued that tourism should “contribute as an industry to reduce the carbon footprint as well as to distribute wealth and opportunities throughout Spain”.
“You have to confront a new way of understanding tourism,” he added.
“We have to make sure Spain is a safe destination.
“Trust and health guarantees have to continue after the coronavirus crisis," Valdés concluded.