British holidaymakers may have to quarantine on their return to the UK after it was reported that the government was on the verge of removing Spain from the current list of ‘safe’ countries following a spike in COVID cases.
The news comes as Scotland only this week lifted its own restrictions on travel to Spain declaring that it was now safe for Scots to travel to the country with no requirement to self-isolate on their return.
Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon defended her decision and rejected claims that her u-turn was due to lobbying by the travel industry.
She said, "These decisions are taken with great care. We take the decisions we think are right and strike the best balance in all the circumstances."
Spain has seen a rapid rise in Coronavirus cases with over 200 outbreaks reported since lifting the lockdown. On Monday, it was reported that there were 4,581 new cases with experts warning that it was a huge test for the Spanish government’s new travel corridor policy.
Infection rates have rocketed from just eight cases in 100,000 inhabitants at the end of June to 27 per 100,000 on Monday with Barcelona and Lleida seeing the largest number of cases.
Neighbouring Portugal which was originally not included on the safe list, is set to be added after it reported just 135 new cases.
Whitehall sources have said that the government is closely monitoring the situation, however, Spain could potentially be removed from the current list of 76 safe countries in a matter of days.
Furthermore, it could mean that thousands of British holidaymakers currently on holiday in Spain, could be forced to quarantine for up to 14 days or be fined.
Although the safe list contains popular holiday destinations such as Spain, France, Germany and Italy, only 25 countries on the list allow British travellers to enter unrestricted.
It is also believed that the UK government is ready to ditch its three-week travel corridor review policy and adopt a ‘rolling system’ with Foreign Office advice updated regularly for each country.
A Whitehall source said, “Instead of big reviews every three weeks, we will look for a system where countries come on and off as and when we see spikes or drops in cases.”
January 14, 2021