What are the UK quarantine rules and can I still travel?

BRITISH tourists looking at spending a summer in Spain face disappointment after the latest UK government travel coridoor update.

The cabinet took Spain off their quarantine rules over another coronavirus outbreak and later extended it to the country’s islands.

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The FCO is now advising against 'all but essential travel' to mainland Spain


The FCO is now advising against ‘all but essential travel’ to mainland SpainCredit: Alamy Live News

What has happened in Spain?

On July 25, the UK government announced that people travelling from Spain from July 26 will have to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

Before, the UK had allowed Brits to travel to the holiday hotspot without needing to self-quarantine on return.

After a spike in coronavirus cases in Spain, holidaymakers in the country – including island hotspots like Majorca and Ibiza – will now be forced to quarantine for two weeks upon returning home to the UK.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office initially warned against “all but essential travel” to mainland Spain only.

But in an update on July 27, the FCO warned Brits to not travel to the Canary Islands or Balearic Islands unless it is necessary.

This includes Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Ibiza and Majorca with the the new advice coming into effect without prior warning to travellers.

Can I still travel to Spain?

The short answer is yes, but for essential travel only.

Flights are still departing from the UK to Spain, but the FCO has changed its advice to only travel to mainland Spain for essential reasons.

Some airlines like Easyjet are still flying to Spain and some hotels are still open.

However, the government has advised to only travel to Spain for an essential reason.

If you decide to book a holiday to Spain you will be travelling against government advice.

This means you are unlikely to be covered under travel insurance.  

I am already in Spain – do I need to rush back to the UK?

No. The government has said holidays do not need to be cut short.

It is already too late to rush back to the UK to avoid quarantining for 14 days.

The government advises those already in Spain to follow the advice of local authorities.

You should contact your tour operator or airline if you have questions about your return journey.

Are Gran Canaria, Tenerife and Majorca included on the FCO’s ‘black list’ for Spain?

The short answer is yes.

The FCO has now advised against all non-essential travel to mainland Spain and its islands.

This means that the Canary Islands – which include Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro and La Graciosa – should only be visited for essential travel.

The same currently applies to the Balearic Islands, which includes Majorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera.

Any return from these islands had already required people to self-quarantine for two weeks under the rules released on July 25 for Spain.

What are the quarantine rules?

Since June 8, guidelines have required anyone entering the UK from a non-coridoor country to quarantine for 14 days.

Those rules continue to apply for the time being – both to Brits returning to the country and tourists arriving from abroad.

Anyone entering the country must provide contact details and then self-isolate for 14 days, or face a fine of up to £1000.

Police are conducting checks to ensure people are quarantining and not leaving their residence for the two-week period.

Magistrates also have the powers to prosecute or to issue unlimited fines for persistent breaches of the new self-isolation rule, or for refusal to pay a fine that has already been issued.

The quarantine is being run and enforced by Border Force, cops, and Public Health England officials.

Brits living in the UK can quarantine at their own home, but they are not allowed to leave the house for a fortnight.

Anyone without accommodation should be provided alternative accommodation by the government.

Which workers are exempt from quarantine?

Most quarantine exemptions cover either transport professionals or key workers travelling from abroad to the UK on very specific business.

Individuals that are exempt from quarantine will still have to fill out the standard tracking form and must have official clearance that they can produce at the border.

There are no exemptions for people coming back from holiday, no matter what your profession.

Among those that are exempt are:

  • Essential UK and foreign diplomats that are on a mission, including intelligence staff
  • Defence personnel, forces and contractors who are confirmed as exempt through the Ministry of Defence
  • Border security and maintenance staff
  • People who live in the UK but work in another country and travel between the UK and country of work at least once a week, and visa versa.
  • People licenced to transport passengers by coach and bus internationally
  • International freight and goods drivers, including post and medicine.
  • Eurotunnel and Eurostar staff, pilots and air crew
  • Industry and infrastructure…

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