Updated 14th August 2020
The UK government has announced an immediate requirement for all travellers arriving to the UK from Spain to quarantine for 14 days.
Following a spike in the number of new Covid-19 cases in Spain last week, the government has quickly imposed a new self-isolation policy for all people returning from Spain.
Announced on Saturday, new rules came into force no less than six hours later. Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab said the government “took the decision as swiftly as they could”. When asked why holidaymakers were not told earlier that Spain was under assessment, Mr Raab said “vague advice” would have created “more uncertainty”.
Mr Raab also said that the UK could risk seeing a “second wave” and lockdown measures if they did not take action quickly.
Various Airlines such as British Airways have criticised the new measures as “yet another blow” for British holidaymakers and the tourism industry.
So what does it all mean?
The key facts
- As of today (27th July 2020), all travellers entering the UK from Spain, must self-isolate at home for two weeks, announced by the Department for Transport (DfT).
- Travel insurance for British holidaymakers already in Spain should remain in effect, and UK travellers are not being advised to leave yet. Anyone travelling to the Spanish mainland against Foreign Office advice will, however, find their policy is invalid.
- The Foreign Office has announced that Spain poses “an unacceptably high risk for British travellers” and as such, advises against all non-essential travel there – with the exception of the Balearic and Canary Islands.
What can or can’t I do whilst in quarantine?
- When arriving in the UK, travellers from Spain will be required to go direct to their home or ‘other suitable accommodation. This can be via public transport.
- The person required to quarantine, must immediately self-isolate for 14 days – timed from the day following their arrival.
- They are able to leave home for medical assistance, or to attend a funeral or court, and even shopping, but only if there is no one else available to do this for them.
- Leaving home for work, exercise, walking the dog or socialising is prohibited.
The new restrictions imposed will raise a plethora of questions, and a few examples are;
I have a package holiday booked for later in the summer. What are my rights?
Currently (as of today Mon 27th July), package holidays will not operate because the Foreign Office regards mainland Spain as too dangerous. This does not include the Balearics (Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza) and the Canaries. This means that unfortunately there is no legal entitlement to cancel and get a refund. It will ultimately be to the discretion of the travel company.
Tui have taken the decision to cancel all holidays to mainland Spain up to and including Sunday the 9th of August 2020. But it is offering passengers who are happy and able to accommodate the new quarantine restrictions, the chance to travel to the Balearic Islands and Canary Islands as planned from today (Monday 27th July).
Customers whose packages have been cancelled, are entitled to a full refund, but can also choose an alternative holiday or a voucher for future travel.
Whatever your situation and travel company, check with them directly.
I have booked a “DIY” trip, with individual flights, accommodation and car rental. What am I entitled to in regards to money back?
Current guidance isn’t clear, but it looks like it’s going to be difficult. Although the new quarantine guidance was imposed very quickly, there is still every chance that your flight(s) will still be going ahead, and as such refunds will be hard to come by. Ultimately the airline, hotel or car rental company is fully entitled to refuse a refund, despite having compelling reasons not to travel.
Can I get around the quarantine period by returning from Spain via France, Gibraltar or another country?
No. Because every traveller to the UK must complete a passenger locator form, they are required to list every country they have visited in the past two weeks.
Will I get fined if I break quarantine?
Yes. The penalty for failing to comply with quarantine procedures is £1000, or £480 in Scotland.
Although it’s unclear currently on how this will be policed, the various public health authorities have been making a few tracking calls.
France to be added to UK quarantine list
The UK Government has just announced that France has been added to the UK quarantine list, with measures imposed as of 4am on the 14th of August.
The 14-day isolation requirement now also applies to travellers arriving from Netherlands, Monaco, Malta, Turks and Caicos, as well as Aruba.
The move has come following the French Prime Minister acknowledging that the infection numbers were going “the wrong way”.
Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary said the decision was taken due to the rate of infection exceeding 20 cases per 100,000 people over seven days.
He also said “We’ve worked so hard in this country to get our level of infections down, the last thing we want to do is have people returning and bringing the infection with them”.
The restrictions imposed follow the same guidelines as Spain (shown above), and there was a surge in holidaymakers currently in France all frantically trying to book early travel back to the UK before the restrictions were imposed.
As we approach the end of the summer and the start of Autumn, will we see more countries being placed on the UK quarantine list? Do you have holidays booked but are now looking to cancel?
The move to impose these new quarantine measures will create a lot of issues, both for travellers hoping to get away, and for the whole tourism industry. As things change, we’ll be sure to keep this post updated!