Spain finds itself on the amber list as the UK government announces which countries are on its green, amber and red lists for summer travel.
Last month the UK government declared that they would be introducing a ‘traffic light system’ for when international travel re-opened on May 17. The new system is designed to specify the travel restrictions for visiting other countries.
On Friday, May 7, Secretary for Transport Grant Shapps announced which countries were on each list, with Spain being placed on ‘amber’.
This means that anyone flying back to the UK from Spain will be required to self isolate for 10 days, or five if they produce a negative PCR test on day five. Not good news for those who have already booked their Spanish trips.
Shapps said that the government's Joint Biosecurity Centre will be reviewing the list every three weeks. Decisions will then be made, taking into account factors including each country's level of vaccinations and infection rates. This means that Spain could see itself moved on to the green list when rates improve.
Mr Shapps said "Today marks the first step in our cautious return to international travel, with measures designed above all else to protect public health and ensure we don’t throw away the hard-fought gains we’ve all strived to earn this year.
"This is a new way of doing things, and people should expect travel to be different this summer – with longer checks at the borders, as part of tough measures to prevent new strains of the virus from entering the country and putting our fantastic vaccine rollout at risk."
In total, only 12 countries and territories have been placed on the green list including Australia, Brunei, Falkland Islands, Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Iceland, Israel, Jerusalem, New Zealand, Portugal (including the Azores and Madeira) and Singapore.
As expected, those countries with high infection rates including South Africa and Brazil are on the UK’s red list.
Tourists visiting green list countries from the UK will be required to take a Covid test both before and after coming back into the country. Travellers to amber countries will have to quarantine at home, and those visiting red list countries will have to quarantine for 11 nights in a government hotel.
Last month the Spanish government extended restrictions for British tourists, so the current rules mean that travellers from the UK are not allowed into Spain until at least May 31, unless they are residents or for certain other reasons.
Because of this, it means that Spain being placed on the amber list will make very little difference to travel for the rest of this month. It will however affect all those who have already booked flights for June, in hope and anticipation, that the Spanish government would lift their restrictions and that Spain would be placed on the green list.
The Spanish tourism sector has been brutally hit since the start of the pandemic, with the latest tourism figures for March showing the financial blow Spain has suffered. A mere 18,000 British nationals visited Spain during March compared to 1.5 million in March 2019.
UK holidaymakers are pivotal to the recovery of Spain’s ailing tourism industry, as they represent 22.5 per cent of international tourists in 2019, that’s 18 million people who spent €17.9 billion on their Spanish holidays.
However, Spain's ministry of tourism said the UK’s latest decision would have no immediate effect but reiterated "its conviction that this summer it will be possible for British citizens to spend their holidays in Spain" and predicted that in June "we will be able to start the reactivation of international travel".
The ‘Stay in the UK’ ruling will be lifted on May 17, which means leaving the UK and travelling for leisure, will once again be allowed.
Speaking at a Downing Street press conference on Friday, the Transport Secretary did, however, indicate that “the strict border control measures will remain in place as international travel gradually resumes”.
"Our priority remains to protect public health, which is why the ‘green’ list is currently very small, with only 12 countries and territories. As the epidemiological situation improves worldwide, it is expected that there will be more opportunities for leisure travel with a greater number of destinations added”.