Friday, 25 Sep 2020

Spain 'freely' welcomes Brits without quarantine from today

British tourists will be ‘freely’ welcomed in Spain from today without needing to quarantine, according to the country’s foreign minister. 

The move could ramp up pressure on Boris Johnson to drop Britain’s 14-day quarantine – or allow Spaniards to enter this country without self-isolating. 

Spain’s Arancha Gonzalez Laya called on the UK to enter a reciprocal agreement, as any Brits who did visit the Mediterranean nation would have to quarantine for 14 days unless current coronavirus restrictions for nearly all new arrivals are dropped. 

Mr Johnson is being urged by the tourism industry and members of his own party to form so-called ‘air bridges’ with destinations that have Covid-19 under control or scrap the plan entirely. The Government is expected to outline the next phase of its plan for borders next week.

Spain will allow the entry of visitors from the European Union from Sunday when it ends its state of emergency, and foreign minister Ms Gonzalez Laya said this would apply to British citizens too.

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She told the BBC: ‘We will allow British visitors to enter Spain just like the rest of the European Union as from June 21 freely and without the need for a quarantine.

‘We’re discussing with the UK authorities to see if they would do the same on their side, we nevertheless are doing this out of respect for the 400,000 British citizens that have a second residence in Spain and are dying to benefit from their homes in our country.

‘We do hope they (the UK Government) will be sensitive to the 250,000 Spaniards that are also living in the UK and would like to enter the UK without a quarantine.’

Amid concerns about re-importing the disease to her country, which was also ravaged by Covid-19, Ms Gonzalez Laya said visitors would face a ‘triple check’ on their origin, temperature and contact point to stem the spread.

Portugal’s ambassador to the UK has also said the nation wants to welcome British tourists again now the coronavirus alert level has been reduced.

Manuel Lobo Antunes told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘There was very good news for you, for us, for Europe that the alert system has come from four to three and that means a significant improvement in the control of the pandemic here in the UK.

‘We think that the situation is under control and we would be happy to receive, as before, as many British as possible.’

But the Foreign Office is still advising British nationals against all but essential international travel.

Rory Boland, Travel Editor for the consumer group Which?, said of Spain’s plan: ‘This is positive news for many UK holidaymakers who are hoping to get away this summer, however with the FCO still advising against non-essential travel upcoming package holidays to Spain won’t go ahead, and it remains too risky to book.

‘Some airlines seem determined to fly to Spain in the next few weeks despite the FCO advice, but carriers should continue to offer free rebooking to customers who would invalidate their travel insurance if they flew and face two weeks quarantine on their return. 

‘The FCO must also, finally, provide some clarity on when its travel ban will remain in force until, so holiday providers and airlines know what dates it is appropriate to sell flights and holidays for.’

Home Secretary Priti Patel promised the quarantine would be reviewed after three weeks when she imposed it on June 8 – meaning an update is expected on June 29.

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