Spain has been added to the “amber” list of countries as part of the reopening of international travel from 17 May, it was confirmed on Friday.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps announced that the country would not make the list of ‘safe’ green countries, stating that the removal of international travel restrictions on May 17 was “necessarily cautious”, adding: “We must make sure the countries we reconnect with are safe.”
The lists are expected to be reviewed and updated every three weeks.
Spain and its islands have long been a favourite destination for Britons, with more than 18 million holidaymakers visiting this Mediterranean hotspot in a normal year. However, the coronavirus pandemic has decimated the travel industry.
Foreign travel will reopen this summer under a traffic light system, with countries split into three categories: green, amber or red, depending on their level of risk in relation to Covid-19.
Destinations on the green list will have low case numbers and high vaccination rates. Most importantly, visitors to these countries will not be required to quarantine upon their return to the UK unless they test positive for coronavirus.
But how likely is a Spanish getaway this summer – and what are the current rules on travel? Here’s everything you need to know.
Will British holidaymakers be allowed to travel to Spain this summer?
Those who have been missing Spain’s exquisite coastline and vibrant cities may be in luck – although circumstances may change depending on Covid case numbers.
As part of an EU-wide initiative, Spain is expected to welcome back British tourists from June.
Tourism minister Fernando Valdes told Sky News that the European nation was “desperate” to welcome British visitors with open arms, and was cheered by the fast vaccination roll-out in the UK.
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Mr Valdes said: “I think we will be ready here in Spain. We also think that the vaccination scheme in the UK is going pretty well, so hopefully we’ll be seeing this summer the restart of holidays.”
At present, it’s still illegal to travel abroad from the UK for holidays, although this is expected to change from 17 May.
Spain is on the amber list - but for how long?
Only a smattering of tourist destinations are on the green list and, at this stage, Spain has not made the cut.
The number of Covid cases, coupled with the speed of its vaccination campaign (to date, less than a third of the country has received a first dose of the vaccine) mean that Spain has been relegated to the amber list.
It’s expected that a further update in June may see the country promoted to the green list, with popular holiday hotspots, such as the Balearic and Canary Islands, being awarded green status before the mainland.
The Balearic Islands and the Valencia region – which includes the Costa Blanca – have significantly lower coronavirus contagion rates compared with the rest of the country.
Rosa Ana Morilla Rodriguez, director general of tourism for the islands, told Sky News: “We have the right numbers, we have the right measures in place that will allow us to be considered ‘green’.
“I think Mallorca is such an important destination for the UK that I’m confident we could have this travel corridor. We have told the British ambassador that we have all the factors needed to be considered ‘green’ for the UK,” she said.
Yaiza Castilla, the Canary Islands tourism minister, has also asked the British government to treat the Canaries as a “special case”, separate from the rest of Spain based on their low rate of coronavirus cases.
“The Canary Islands has been characterised by their control of the pandemic with results much lower than in infections which are much lower in other European territories,” she told The Independent.
What will travel to an amber list country entail?
Holidaymakers travelling home from a destination on the amber list will need to take a pre-departure test - which can be a lateral flow or rapid antigen test, as well as a PCR test - with proof of a negative result.
Upon arrival to the UK from an amber list country, travellers must self-isolate at home for 10 days, plus pay to take two PCR tests: one on day two and one on day eight.
Will I need to have been vaccinated to visit Spain?
Holidaymakers to Spain are expected to require either proof of vaccination, or a negative Covid test taken within 72 hours of their arrival, to be allowed into the country.
What restrictions are in place in Spain?
While the country is not currently in lockdown, it is subject to curfew restrictions that limit travel around the country, the opening hours of restaurants and bars and the number of people who can gather for social purposes.
The use of face coverings is mandatory for anyone over the age of six-years-old on all forms of public transport, and in many other outdoor and indoor public spaces, even when social distancing is observed.
It’s possible that such restrictions may be relaxed when holidaymakers are allowed to re-enter the country.
Watch: Where can I go on holiday?