Spain will start to demand a negative Covid PCR test or proof of full vaccination from all UK tourists within 72 hours, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has announced.
The same rule will apply to anyone from the UK travelling to the Balearic Islands of Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza or Formentera which were recently added to the green list and is due to concerns over the delta variant of the coronavirus.
Mr Sánchez spoke to Cadena SER radio on Monday saying, “What we are going to do is apply to British tourists who go to the Balearic islands the same requirements we make of other European citizens.”
Mr Sanchez added that “They will need a full dose of vaccine or a negative PCR.” referring to the test taken to detect the Covid-19 virus.
“The cumulative incidence rate in the United Kingdom has been progressing negatively during these last few weeks. It is far above 150 cases (per 100,000 inhabitants) in 14 days, and that is why we have to take an additional precaution with respect to the arrival of British tourists to our country.” he continued.
The Spanish leader also stated that new restrictions will come into effect in 72 hours “so that tour operators and British tourists are able to adapt to the new rules.”
Spain had previously decided to lift the requirement for UK travellers to present a negative PCR test from May 20.
The new constraints will particularly affect visitors to the Balearic Islands, which will be added to the UK’s green travel list from 04:00 June 30. The rest of Spain will however remain on the amber list, which requires quarantining upon returning to the UK.
The Balearic Islands had been looking forward to receiving an influx of British holidaymakers due to the eased restrictions.
Under the new rules, British tourists will be able to enter Spain or the Balearic Islands, with either full vaccination with one of the vaccines authorized by the World Health Organisation (WHO) or the European Medicines Agency (EMA), with the second dose administered at least 14 days before travel, or a negative PCR test that is taken within 72 hours before arriving in Spain.
This is a change from Spain’s current position, which was adopted a little over a month ago when the UK was added to its list of countries whose nationals could freely enter the country.
The announcement of Spain's new travel rules comes amid growing concern over the delta variant of the virus, which at present accounts for 90% of cases in the UK, and according to the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC), is forecast to account for 90% of all infections in Europe by the end of August.
According to the latest Health Ministry report on variants, the delta strain is responsible for less than 1% of cases in Spain, but experts warn that this data is not up to date as it can take up to four weeks to sequence new infections.
The decision also comes as Spain struggles to contain a coronavirus outbreak that has been linked to students holidaying in Mallorca. So far more than 800 cases in just nine regions have been detected and more than 2,000 people are now in quarantine.
Alongside Spain's new travel laws, it’s important to note that The Balearic Islands are the only Spanish region that will be placed on the UK government’s green list of countries and territories, which are considered safe for travel.
As of June 30, travellers from the UK will no longer have to quarantine for 10 days upon their return, although they will still need to take a Covid-19 test before travelling, plus another test on or before day two (and quarantine if the result is positive). A health control form is also still a requirement for those entering Spain.
The Balearics Islands have always been a popular destination for British holidaymakers. In 2019 alone, nearly four million of them spent time on the Mediterranean islands, mostly in Mallorca.
Image Credit: Pool Moncloa/Borja Puig de la Bellacasa