Brits’ joy as Spain holiday quarantine threat is lifted – but there’s still confusion over Covid tests
FAMILIES were last night given the good news they can holiday in Spain without the threat of quarantine.
But they still face confusion over which Covid test to take on return.Brit holidaymakers can now head to Spain without the threat of having to quarantine[/caption]
Ministers moved to end weeks of chaos over the travel rules by publishing an updated green, amber and red traffic light system.
Double-jabbed holidaymakers were told they could visit Spain, France and a list of other popular destinations.
But, to the fury of travel bosses, ministers singled out Spain and its islands for special treatment amid concern over case rates there.
The Government’s new guidance suggests all travellers to Spain — with or without two jabs — should take a gold-standard PCR test.
But the advice to take a PCR test on return is not law and will not be enforced at airports — meaning many will refuse to do so.
Sunseekers who still want to play by the rules will have to fork out an average £175 a person to do so.
Airlines UK chief Tim Alderslade, who represents British Airways, easyJet and Virgin, said: “This is another missed opportunity and, with the summer season nearing its conclusion, means international travel has not had anything like the reopening it was hoping for.
“This puts us at odds with our European neighbours and clearly does not represent the liberation of aviation that the Prime Minister has spoken of.
“Alongside the continuation of expensive testing and a much smaller than hoped for expansion of the green list — which makes less sense by the day given where we are with the vaccination programme — this is yet another blow to the sector and families desperate to get away, and means the UK continues to open up far slower than the rest of Europe.”
Spain, which has seen a spike in Beta cases, swerved a move to the hated amber plus list, which was scrapped.
This puts us at odds with our European neighbours and clearly does not represent the liberation of aviation that the Prime Minister has spoken of.Tim Alderslade
But ministers then opted to advise PCR testing as an extra fail-safe.
A Government spokesman said: “Arrivals from Spain, and all its islands, are advised to use a PCR test as their pre-departure test wherever possible, as a precaution against the increased prevalence of the virus and variants in the country.
“UK clinicians and scientists will remain in close contact with their counterparts in Spain to keep abreast of the latest data on cases there.”
And the UAE, home of influencers’ paradise Dubai, was removed from the red list, with other Middle Eastern holiday hubs Qatar and Bahrain, plus India where the Delta variant emerged.
Gulf states had threatened to cut off Britain from investment unless they were removed from the red travel list, The Sun can reveal.
Billionaire business leaders across Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Qatar pressured ministers to ditch hotel quarantine for their visitors — warning they faced losing swathes of post-Brexit deals.
Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Romania and Norway were all added to the green list.
But Mexico has gone red over fears of a new Colombian variant.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, under pressure from Cabinet colleagues over the travel chaos, said he continued to be cautious.
He said: “We are committed to opening up international travel safely, taking advantage of the gains we’ve made through our successful vaccination programme, helping connect families, friends and businesses around the world.
“While we must continue to be cautious, today’s changes reopen a range of different holiday destinations across the globe, which is good news for both the sector and travelling public.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid added: “As well as moving more countries to the green list, today’s announcement also demonstrates the need for continued caution.”
Ministers have also increased the cost of hotel quarantine by nearly £500 as they say the service is getting more expensive to run.
From August 12, it will cost £2,285 to return from a red-list country for a single person and an additional £1,430 for a second adult in the room — up from £1,750 per person.
The price for children aged five to 12 stays unchanged at £325.New guidance suggests all travellers going to Spain should take a PCR test[/caption]
Too short on clarity
By Lisa Minot, Head of Travel
FIRST, the good news. Spain will not face further restrictions in the latest traffic light update and France is off the amber plus list.
Families finally know they can safely book a break but concerns remain over the number of cases in Spain.
Ministers say Brits should use PCR tests for the pre-departure test needed to return to the UK, although they are not mandatory.
Leaving families to decide is hardly the crystal clarity the travel industry wanted.
Families accustomed to having to follow ministerial advice might feel obliged to get a PCR, adding hundreds of pounds to their holiday.
The influencers may be celebrating Dubai’s move from red to amber but this was also a savvy move for the UK economy. It will make travel easier and cheaper for long-haul fliers using hub airports in the UAE, Qatar and Bahrain.
As ever, there’s a sting in the tail. Popular winter sun destination Mexico goes on the red list due to worries about the Beta variant first detected in Colombia.
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Travel expert Paul Charles added: “While there’s some welcome progress, the Government is still being too cautious at a time when they should be opening up travel faster to help the sector’s recovery.
“The Government is also failing to address the hurdles putting off consumers from booking, namely not giving a week or more’s notice of a country being moved to amber or red and the high cost of onerous testing.
“Until these are resolved, the government continues to keep travel in an armlock.”
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