I am writing to you regarding the decision to remove Spain from the list of countries and territories from which international arrivals are exempt from self-isolation requirements, and the reasoning behind this.
I know that requiring self-isolation by families, holiday-makers and business travellers arriving from Spain from today will come as unwelcome news to many of us. Many have had to delay their holidays and travel until now and we do not underestimate the impact this change will have. However, we have had to act at pace, working with the devolved administrations, to protect public health.
Why has the situation changed?
The Spanish Health Ministry published data on the afternoon of Friday 24 July, which was subsequently reported on by the European Centre for Disease Control. Over 2,000 new cases were reported, confirming a pattern seen on the previous day. These new cases reported across the Thursday and Friday were 75% higher than those reported on the previous two days.
This pace of increase, together with the high seven-day case rate for Spain and the picture of increasing cases across most regions, represented a significant change. Ministers therefore agreed that urgent action was needed to protect the health of the UK public.
The Government has been consistently clear since the commencement of its ‘Travel Corridors’ policy that it will act at pace if required to do so by the evidence.
For UK travellers in Spain now
We appreciate there will be many British nationals currently in Spain who may be concerned. We are advising these people that they may continue with their trip and should continue to adhere to social distancing and good hygiene, as they do in the UK.
They should follow any local rules and check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s travel advice pages on GOV.UK for further information. They will need to fill in the passenger locator form before arriving back in the UK and must then self-isolate for 14 days.
For UK travellers who are due to, or wish to, travel to Spain
We appreciate many more British nationals are planning to travel to Spain in the coming months during the summer season.
Currently, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is advising against all but essential travel to mainland Spain – this does not cover the Canary Islands or the Balearic Islands. Travel advice relates to the risk to a UK national visiting a foreign country and a range of factors from health care facilities to security to entry requirements are considered. The approach the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have taken is the same as they have in place for Portugal with respect to Madeira and the Azores.
We also working closely with airlines and airports to ensure they are communicating with affected passengers – those currently in Spain and those who plan to travel there in the immediate future.
Covid-19 has changed the nature of international travel. Travellers should carefully check the latest Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice (https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice) before making plans and commencing their journeys, and should purchase travel insurance.
Further information can be found here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus- covid-19-travel-corridors.
Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP
SECRETARY OF STATE FOR TRANSPORT