Spain will remain off of the UK’s green safe travel list, it was announced on Thursday.
The announcement followed the government’s first three-weekly review of the traffic light system which categorises countries based on their COVID-19 incidence rates, placing them on either the green, amber or red list.
As a result of the decision, those looking to travel to Spain from the UK will need to continue to:
The news came despite the UK government being urged to abolish the amber category with many people claiming that the policy has only led to confusion on which countries people should be travelling to.
For now, the government has elected to maintain the amber list, however, it continues to ‘advise’ travellers against non-essential travel to amber destinations.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had previously tried to clarify the situation saying that countries on the amber list were, "not somewhere you should be going on holiday.”
The news will be a bitter blow to both the UK and Spanish tourism sectors which were hoping that mainland Spain, along with the Canary and Balearic Islands would be added to the green list.
No additional countries were added to the green list following the latest review. However, Gibraltar will remain on the coveted green list, meaning Brits can continue to travel there without the need to quarantine upon their return home.
It comes despite Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez’ recent announcement that from May 24, all UK travellers would be welcomed back to Spain without the need to quarantine, provide a negative Coronavirus test or prove that they had been vaccinated.
Following an increase in infections, Portugal was also added back onto the amber list having been placed on the green list just weeks earlier. From 4 am on Tuesday, those returning from the country will need to self-isolate for 10 days.
Fears over new variants
There are also fears about new variants recently discovered in India and Nepal.
In an interview, Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps said: “I want to be straight with people, it’s actually a difficult decision to make, but in the end we’ve seen two things really which caused concern.
“One is the positivity rate has nearly doubled since the last review in Portugal and the other is there’s a sort of Nepal mutation of the so-called Indian variant which has been detected and we just don’t know the potential for that to be vaccine-defeating mutation and simply don’t want to take the risk as we come up to June 21 and the review of the fourth stage of the unlock.”
On Thursday, Spain reported 5,250 new cases and 50 further deaths bring the total number of fatalities since the start of the pandemic to 80,099.
The country's vaccination program continues to gather pace with the health ministry announcing that more than 18.7 million citizens had now received one vaccine dose with 10 million now having received the full two doses.
This means that around 38 per cent of the Spanish population has now had their first dose in comparison to 58 per cent in the UK.