The Government has announced the new rules with all those who arrive back from Spain after midnight tonight affected. Travellers returning to any of the UK nations from Spain after midnight tonight will have to self-isolate for two weeks as the country has been removed from the travel corridors exemption list, the Department for Transport has confirmed.
The Government said the quarantine rules would apply to people returning from anywhere in Spain, as well as the Canary and Balearic Islands.
A spokesperson said: “The Joint Biosecurity Centre together with Public Health England have updated their coronavirus assessments of Spain based on the latest data.
“As a result, Spain has been removed from the lists of countries from which passengers arriving in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are exempted from the need to self-isolate.
“Protecting public health is our absolute priority and we have taken this decision to limit any potential spread to the UK.
“We’ve always been clear that we would act immediately to remove a country where necessary.
“Both our list of quarantine exemptions and the FCO travel advice are being updated to reflect these latest risk assessments.”
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It comes as Catalonia in Spain went into “voluntary lockdown” after cases of coronavirus surged.
As a result, the British Government has now decided to take Spain off the safe country list, impacting thousands of Britons and their summer holiday plans.
People returning to Scotland from Spain will also have to quarantine as a significant increase in COVID-19 cases caused a decision to be overturned.
Spain will be removed from the list of countries exempt from quarantine requirements due to an increased number of positive coronavirus cases.
The decision, also made by the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland and Wales – as well as the UK Government, has been made to reduce the risk of the transmission of the virus by those travelling from Spain and arriving in Scotland.
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The Foreign Office (FCO) has now updated its advice for Britons travelling to Spain.
The website reads: “From July 26, the FCO advises against all non-essential travel to mainland Spain based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risks.
“Only the Canary Islands (Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro and La Graciosa) and Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera) are exempt from the FCO advice against all non-essential international travel.
“This advice is based on evidence of increases in cases of COVID-19 in several regions, but particularly in Aragon, Navarra and Catalonia (which include the cities of Zaragoza, Pamplona and Barcelona).”
It added: “The FCO is not advising those already travelling in Spain to leave at this time. Travellers should follow the advice of the local authorities on how best to protect themselves and others, including any measures that they bring in to control the virus. If you are returning from mainland Spain after July 25 you will be required to quarantine on your return to the UK, but the FCO is not advising you to cut short your visit. You should contact your tour operator or airline if you have any questions about your return journey.
Public Health England (PHE) are continuing to monitor the situation in the Balearic and Canary Islands closely. Travellers there should continue to check this advice regularly.”
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Spain has experienced a sudden spike in cases across some of its regions including Catalonia, Barcelona and Madrid.
Spain recorded 2,255 new cases of the deadly virus on Friday.
On Thursday, a town in Murcia called Totana was thrown back into ‘Phase One’ lockdown after a localised outbreak.
Catalonia has also imposed new restrictions such as the closure of nightclubs and bars to halt the spread of the virus.
The new restrictions have reportedly been imposed for at least 15 days.
Some of the main areas where the virus has spiked will see hours at restaurants and bars also cut.
The region of Aragon, close to Catalonia, has recorded 2,113 new cases in the last seven days.
International travel post-lockdown
The announcement of the “air bridge” between England and Spain being axed comes only a day after a further five countries were added to the quarantine-free list for people travelling to England.
Anyone coming from Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia, Slovenia and St Vincent and the Grenadines will not be required to isolate for two weeks on arrival in England, the Government confirmed on Friday.
Popular holiday destinations including Portugal, Thailand and the US remain ousted from the list.
The Government said people should continue to check FCO travel advice and their insurance policies before embarking on any overseas travel.
Travel Risk Expert and Chairman of the Travel Risk & Incident Prevention (TRIP) Group Lloyd Figgins said of the latest announcement: “This sudden change of policy demonstrates just how volatile the current situation remains. Travellers could literally be in the air on their way to a destination and by the time they land they may have to quarantine. You could end up being confined to a hotel for 14 days and then be required to self-isolate for a further 14 days upon their return from holiday.
“That doesn’t mean people shouldn’t travel but it would be sensible to put some measures in place before setting off on holiday. While emergency planning is usually the last thing on people’s minds before jetting off somewhere sunny for the holidays, it’s more important now than ever to adopt an emergency mindset.”