BRITS were tonight told NOT to travel to Spain’s islands of Majorca, Ibiza and the Canary Islands in another Government U-turn.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office changed their advice to warn against non-essential travel to the whole of Spain, based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risks in the country – with no notice to travellers.
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Spain’s new travel rules
FOREIGN OFFICE ADVICE:
- Don’t travel to mainland Spain unless essential
- Brits are now (as of 27 July) being advised against all but essential travel to the islands too
14 DAY QUARANTINE
- Everyone coming back from Spain OR the Spanish islands must quarantine for 14 days at home
- They must self isolate and give an address of where they are staying, or they face a £1000 fine
WHY HAS IT CHANGD?
This advice is based on evidence of increases in cases of COVID-19 in several regions, but particularly in Aragon, Navarra and Catalonia (which include the cities of Zaragoza, Pamplona and Barcelona).
SHOULD I GO HOME?
- The FCO is not advising those already travelling in Spain to leave at this time.
- Travellers should follow the advice of the local authorities on how best to protect themselves and others, including any measures that they bring in to control the virus.
- You should contact your tour operator or airline if you have any questions about your return journey.
Previously Brits were free to visit the islands including Ibiza, Majorca, Tenerife and Lanzarote – but as of Tuesday evening this advice has now changed and only essential journeys are now advised.
If tourists are returning from anywhere in Spain, they will have to isolate for two weeks when they get back to the UK.
However, the tightening of the travel advice rules is good for holidaymakers who wanted to cancel their trips to the Spanish islands, as it should make it easier to get refunds.
A Foreign Office spokesperson said tonight: “We have considered the overall situation for British nationals travelling to and from the Balearic and Canary Islands, including the impact of the requirement to self-isolate on return to the UK, and concluded that we should advise British nationals against all non-essential travel to the whole of Spain.”
It comes as:
It came hours after a chaotic day where it was rumoured that the Spanish islands might be removed from the quarantine rules altogether because of the lower numbers of Covid cases there.
Spanish officials said the islands should not be included in a blanket ban on return from Spain and that they were in talks with the UK about a change.
A Whitehall source close to the discussions told The Sun just a few hours earlier today: “They are considering an exemption to the Balearic and Canary Islands.
“Their rates are lower so it may be on the cards – but the announcement may not come until the weekly review.
“There has been some debate as to whether they should be included as there is a lot of traffic between the mainland and the islands, and that’s where the issue is.
“But it will be a decision for the Covid group chaired by the PM but that’s being actively discussed.”
No10 said today: “No travel is risk-free during this pandemic. Anyone travelling abroad should be aware that our travel advice and exemption list is under constant review as we monitor the international situation”.
Paul Charles, founder of the travel PR consultancy firm PC Agency, told The Times that people were cancelling their bookings in caution. He said: “People are cancelling not just Spain but other short-haul bookings.
“We’ve heard of lots of cancellations for holidays to France, Italy and Greece.”
Brits are being warned not to cancel their own holidays to Spain as they may be left out of pocket, and to wait for tour operators to cancel them.
However, families who have booked flights and hotels separately may not get their money back as both remain operational.
Travel: What are your rights to a refund?
MILLIONS of Brits have had holiday plans cancelled.
Firstly, speak to your airline or holiday firm about a refund or rearranging your plans.
You are entitled to a refund if they’ve cancelled your holiday but many have large delays or may offer vouchers instead.
As the FCO is advising against all but essential international travel, you may also be covered by your travel insurance if the holiday provider or airline is not helping you.
Keep in mind the travel insurance must have been taken out before the FCO advice changed, otherwise you won’t be covered.
If you don’t have travel insurance, you may be able to claim your money back through your credit or debit card provider.
Credit card payments between £100 and £30,000 are covered under Section 75 of the Consumer Rights Act.
To start a claim, you need to contact your credit card provider directly – Which? has a free tool that can help you do this.
France saw 1,130 new cases of coronavirus on Saturday, while Italy daily cases jumped from 128 to 306 last week. Greece has seen coronavirus cases also rise since international tourists returned from July 1.
Mr Charles continued: “Dominic Raab said they wouldn’t hesitate to introduce quarantine measures on other countries and that’s simply put fear into people.”
The Foreign Secretary told Sky’s Sophy Ridge yesterday: “As we’ve found with Spain, we can’t give a guarantee.”
Mr Raab added: “There is an element of uncertainty this summer if people go abroad.
“I’m not going to tell people what they should or shouldn’t do. They should follow the advice.”
Spain has insisted it’s safe for tourists to come to as they continue to lobby for the rules to be freed for tourists to come.
Spanish authorities have been desperately handing Ministers Covid updates for each of Spain’s 17 regions, and say six of them were in a better situation than the UK.
What are my options now the UK has changed travel advice to Spain?
British Airways: British Airways says flights to mainland Spain will be going ahead as normal so it won’t be giving money back if customers can no longer travel. Instead of a refund, the airline is offering customers a voucher worth the value of the booking which can be used to rebook their holiday at a later date. This flexible booking policy can be applied to trips to other destinations, not just Spain.
EasyJet: EasyJet says flights to Spain will continue to go ahead as planned and as a result, is not obliged to offer customers a refund if they can no longer go on holiday. Instead, customers can choose to transfer their flights to a later date for free or they can accept a voucher for the value of the booking. This can be used to book a new holiday to another destination. EasyJet Holidays has cancelled all package holidays to mainland Spain, the Canary Islands and Balearic Islands from August 1, when operations were due to restart. Customers who have been affected by the cancellations will be offered a full refund.
Jet2: Jet2 is yet to update passengers on what it is doing with regards to trips to Spain following the FCO advice.
Lastminute.com: Lastminute.com hasn’t announced its policy on what it is doing for customers with upcoming trips to Spain but more information is expected later today. Those who are worried about trips booked to other UK travel bridge destinations and want to change them will be subject to the normal terms and conditions, unless the FCO advice changes.
Love Holidays: Love Holidays is contacting customers with trips to mainland Spain that have been affected by the new FCO travel rules. You’ll need to let it know if you wish to continue to go ahead with the holiday – if not it says it will “do our best to cancel your reservations with our suppliers”.
“Spain is safe for Spaniards and for tourists,” Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya said earlier.
And Spain’s tourism Minister Reyes Maroto added: “What we’d like is for quarantines to be lifted on the islands as early as possible, and we hope it will be today rather than tomorrow.
“There have been conversations since the weekend with the British authorities about dropping quarantine for those visiting the islands as soon as possible.
“We’ll be talking to all the Spanish regions to see what they propose, and any proposals will be brought to the British authorities.”
She added: “We’re living alongside the virus but that doesn’t mean we can’t travel or enjoy some well-deserved holidays.
“But we need to be prudent and we need to respect the virus. But that doesn’t mean we can’t control it and enjoy a certain kind of daily life when living alongside it.”
It was announced today that only three fines have been issued to people for not complying with the border control measures to hand over an address for where they would be self-isolating in the UK.