News, Culture & Society

Spain will allow British tourists from Monday – despite being on the UK’s amber list 

Downing Street today poured cold water on hopes of Brits being allowed to visit Spain on holiday after the country said UK tourists can enter from Monday without having to show a negative Covid-19 test.

The Spanish government confirmed in an official state bulletin that the country will follow the lead of Portugal and let UK holidaymakers in from the start of next week. 

But Number 10 immediately moved to warn people against making plans for a holiday to Spain as Boris Johnson’s spokesman said non-essential trips to ‘amber list’ countries remain banned. 

The PM’s spokesman said: ‘Our advice hasn’t changed in regards to “amber list” countries.

‘We have been clear that people shouldn’t be travelling to amber list countries for the purposes of holidays.’ 

Well-placed Spanish Ministry of Tourism sources confirmed British tourists would be let in without having to show a negative coronavirus test or proof they had been vaccinated.  

Thousands of Brits are now expected to fly to Spain, traditionally the UK’s favourite foreign holiday destination, despite Number 10 warning against the move. 

Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez said in English at Friday’s international trade fair Fitur: ‘I am pleased to inform you that the ministerial order will be officially published today exempting citizens from the UK and other ‘safe’ countries like New Zealand, South Korea and China from temporary restrictions on non-essential trips to Spain.

‘I can therefore announce that from next Monday the 24th of May we will be delighted to welcome all UK tourists.

‘They are welcome to enter our country without restrictions and without health requirements.’

Portugal is currently the only major tourist destination on Britain’s ‘green list’, but Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has hinted it could be expanded amid pressure for France, Spain, Italy and Greece to be added. 

British tourists will be allowed to enter Spain from Monday showing a negative Covid-19 test, despite still being on the UK’s amber travel list. Pictured: Stock image of Malaga, Spain

But Boris Johnson's spokesman said non-essential trips to 'amber list' countries remain banned

But Boris Johnson’s spokesman said non-essential trips to ‘amber list’ countries remain banned

Travellers returning to Britain from an amber location must quarantine at home for 10 days and take a pre-departure test and two post-arrival tests.  

Spain’s Secretary of Sate for Tourism, Fernando Valdes, told Spanish press: ‘What has been decided is that British tourists can enter Spain, but while we are still on the UK’s amber traffic light list they will have to self-isolate on their return.’

Saying the campaign would continue to get Britain to regionalise the green list instead of treating Spain only on a nationwide level and recognise the low coronavirus rates in areas like the Balearic Islands and Valencian Autonomous Community, he added: ‘We are working on this list being compiled by regions.

‘But it’s not a EU problem, it’s a UK problem because it should have the capacity to territorialise the world and not just Spain. We hope a re-evaluation of some regions take place soon.

‘Spain, along with Portugal, is the holiday region that’s in the best epidemiological situation.

‘There are competitors that have higher coronavirus rates and that gives us an obvious competitive advantage. We are confident Spain will be on the green light list in June.

‘But even Spain being on the amber list is not going to stop British people visiting our country.’ 

Spain will not be added to the UK’s green list until June at the earliest, but Toni Perez, mayor of seaside tourist destination Benidorm, said he saw the latest announcement as ‘very positive’.

He added: ‘This is good news and we regard it as very positive.

‘It’s something we’ve been clamouring for in Benidorm given the epidemiological evolution of our coronavirus data, which together with the vaccine situation made this modification inevitable.

‘Now we need the British government to give the green light to safe air corridors with areas like the Valencian Autonomous Community which has a very low rate of coronavirus.

‘That’s especially the case with Benidorm so that as a safe destination we have the UK’s green light and can offer happiness and security to those who choose us for their holidays.’ 

Sanchez was due to present the digital green certificate the EU has been working on to reactivate international tourism at the event at the international trade fair Fitur. 

Travellers returning to Britain from an amber location must quarantine at home for 10 days and take a pre-departure test and two post-arrival tests

Travellers returning to Britain from an amber location must quarantine at home for 10 days and take a pre-departure test and two post-arrival tests 

Spain will not be added to the UK's green list until June at the earliest, but Toni Perez, mayor of tourist destination Benidorm (pictured), said he saw the announcement as 'very positive'

Spain will not be added to the UK’s green list until June at the earliest, but Toni Perez, mayor of tourist destination Benidorm (pictured), said he saw the announcement as ‘very positive’

Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez also announced at Fitur on Friday that tourists from around the world would be allowed to enter the country from June 7 if they had been vaccinated.

Spain has already confirmed Brit holidaymakers flying to Spain from Monday won’t need to show a negative PCR test or proof they have been jabbed because it is going on the country’s ‘safe’ list.

Mr Sanchez said: ‘From June 7 tourists from all countries there is not free movement with at this moment in time, among those the United States, are going to be enter Spain as long as they have a certificate showing they have received their full vaccinations.’ 

Spain’s veto on British tourists had been extended till May 31 before Friday’s announcement, although the country’s tourism minister Maria Reyes Maroto signalled earlier this month it could be lifted sooner. 

 Francesc Colomer, regional tourism minister for the Valencian Community which includes the provinces of Castellon, Valencia and Alicante and covers the Costa Blanca, said he hopes the UK will ‘interpret this news positively’.

He continued: ‘This news is a step forward and very positive.

‘We are advancing in terms of overcoming this pandemic and see this as validation of the improvement of the health situation.

‘Tourism is a space without borders. We have to continue advancing in terms of obtaining the UK’s green traffic light status and we hope the UK will interpret this news positively.’  

 Antonio Mayor, President of the Benidorm, Costa Blanca and Valencia Region Hotel Association Hosbec, added: ‘This is great. Everything that means opening borders and trying to normalise mobility is good news. 

‘We are delighted with the announcement. The important thing now is that the UK puts us on green light status.

‘We expect many British tourists will now come to Spain but green light status would encourage even more.’  

Since last year, the only Brit travellers from the UK allowed into Spain have been people like residents whose trip is regarded as ‘essential’.

The Spanish Interior Ministry announcement confirming the move to put the UK on Spain’s non-EU exemption list, which also applies to Japan, said: ‘At present the European Union is debating a modification of the recommendation on a temporary restriction of non-essential journeys from outside the EU.

Portugal (pictured: Algarve) is currently the only major tourist destination on the UK's 'green list', while Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he wanted to see more countries added

Portugal (pictured: Algarve) is currently the only major tourist destination on the UK’s ‘green list’, while Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he wanted to see more countries added

Mr Shapps also defended the availability of direct flights from countries on the red list, adding that Heathrow (pictured on May 20) is examining using a 'spare terminal to bring in perhaps the red flights separately'

Mr Shapps also defended the availability of direct flights from countries on the red list, adding that Heathrow (pictured on May 20) is examining using a ‘spare terminal to bring in perhaps the red flights separately’

‘It’s foreseeable that Japan and the UK will be included in the list of country exempted. Several EU states have already put those two countries in that privileged position.

‘Spain receives each year a number of visitors from the UK which is especially relevant in relative and absolute terms and many economic sectors need to adapt their capacity in anticipation of border changes. 

‘In light of all this, and after consulting with other government departments which are affected, order INT/657/2020 dated July 17 is modified to include Japan and the UK on the exempted list.

‘The modification will take effect from midnight on May 24.’

The announcement comes soon after Spanish minister Arancha Gonzalez told BBC’s Newscast podcast that the Indian variant had complicated the situation.

‘There are countries who are concerned about the potential of the Indian variant to be more present in the UK and therefore to run the risk, if the EU opens towards the UK, to import the Indian variant into the European Union,’ she said.

‘There are countries who are saying that.

‘This is why this discussion is not yet over, but I do hope that in the next hours there will be clarity on this point.’

Ms Gonzalez said Spain felt ‘more confident’ about letting vaccinated citizens into the country rather than applying a blanket approval for all people in the UK, but that any decision would wait until ‘EU regulation has been adopted’.

She said a decision from Brussels was ‘very close to getting done’, adding: ‘If that is the case, then yes as soon as this is done, hopefully towards the end of this week, vaccinated British citizens would be allowed in.’ 

Meanwhile, the UK’s Transport Secretary Grant Shapps yesterday hinted that the ‘green list’ could be expanded within weeks amid mounting pressure for France, Spain, Italy and Greece to be added.

The Transport Secretary delivered an optimistic message about the prospects for summer travel as he defended the government’s traffic light system – despite fury that it has caused confusion and chaos.

He urged people to be ‘patient’ rather than booking trips to ‘amber’ rated destinations – suggesting the roster of places classed as safe to visit is on track to get longer when it is reviewed at the start of next month. 

The positive signs came amid calls for countries such as France, Spain, Italy and Greece to be added to the ‘green list’, with warnings that the UK travel industry is being left behind as Europe reopens. 

‘There’s a heck of a lot of hassle involved,’ Mr Shapps told Sky News.

‘It’s expensive. We’re not at the stage of saying to people, go to those places on holiday, in fact, please don’t.’ 

But Mr Shapps said he wanted to see more countries added, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today: ‘The amber list and the red list are not for holidaymakers, that’s not the purpose of those lists at this time.

‘We just think that after a year of lockdowns in this country, of people coming forward in record numbers to get their vaccines, we do not want to be in a position of taking risks at this stage about our unlock.’

Asked if he was pushing for the green list to be extended he said: ‘Of course. The reason for that is we have ended up getting way ahead in terms of our vaccination programme in this country and we are just having to wait for other countries to catch up with us. 

It comes after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps (pictured) hinted that the 'green list' could be expanded amid mounting pressure for France, Spain, Italy and Greece to be added

It comes after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps (pictured) hinted that the ‘green list’ could be expanded amid mounting pressure for France, Spain, Italy and Greece to be added

On Thursday, EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren complained that the government has been using focus groups to make decisions rather than following the evidence (stock image)

On Thursday, EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren complained that the government has been using focus groups to make decisions rather than following the evidence (stock image)

‘That’s going to gradually happen, obviously, you can see it’s happening, so that list should expand.’

Mr Shapps added: ‘We are reviewing this all the time, every three weeks, the next review is in the first week of June and we’ll have to see what happens.’

He said: ‘Our message is very straightforward, which is ‘just a little bit of patience, everyone’.

‘I know it’s been an incredibly tough year and there are extreme circumstance where people will feel that it is the right thing to do – perhaps because they have a sick family member and some extreme situations where they’ll travel in the orange category.

‘But by and large we are just asking people to be a little bit patient as other countries catch up with our world-leading vaccination programme and then people will be able to, I hope, travel.

‘We are returning to a world which looks more normal, I hope.’ 

Mr Shapps also defended the continued availability of direct flights from countries such as India on the coronavirus red list. 

In an interview on Sky News, he said: ‘You cannot prevent British citizens from returning home, no country can ban its own citizens.’

The Cabinet minister told BBC Breakfast that he wanted passengers arriving from amber and red list countries to be segregated in airports ‘as much as is practically possible’.

He added that Heathrow, which is currently only using two of its four terminals, is examining using a ‘spare terminal to bring in perhaps the red flights separately’.

On Thursday, Downing Street denied that the government’s message was effectively that people should not go on holiday at all this year. 

And the same day, EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren complained that the government has been using polls and focus groups to make decisions rather than following the evidence, arguing that more mainstream holiday hotspots should be on the green list along with Portugal.

‘We have looked at the data that is available and the scientific evidence shows that you have a number of countries in Europe that are now on the amber list that should go into the green list,’ he said.

‘You can see that that is happening in Europe as we speak. European travel is opening up at large scale.’

Which European countries are welcoming UK tourists back? 

Overseas travel is restarting in Europe as vaccine drives gather pace and Covid infections fall.

Britons are now allowed to holiday abroad after the government repealed a law banning non-essential travel abroad.

The UK is using a traffic light system to determine who has to quarantine when they get home, but that is only part of the puzzle – holiday-makers will also have to find a country willing to let them in.

So, where in Europe is allowing UK tourists to visit?

Portugal

A favourite destination of UK sun-seekers, Portugal also has the distinction of being one of a few countries included on the government’s travel ‘green list’ meaning people do not have to quarantine after arriving home.

After some flip-flopping on the issue, Portugal agreed to allow British arrivals into the country starting on Monday.  

All arrivals will have to take a PCR test no more than 72 hours beforehand, and bring the negative results with them to be allowed into the country.

Iceland

Visitors from any foreign nation are being allowed into the country provided they can show proof of vaccination or a previous Covid infection.

Tourists then have to take a PCR test on arrival and wait in their hotel for the results, but border authorities say this will be no longer than 24 hours and is usually over in five or six hours.

There is a complicated list of exemptions for those who are not vaccinated, but it is unlikely that most people will qualify.

Iceland also has the benefit of being on the UK’s green list, meaning you won’t need to quarantine after arriving home.

Greece 

Since April, Greece’s borders have been open to foreign arrivals provided they can show a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure or that they have been fully vaccinated with an EU-approved Covid jab.

Arrivals also need to complete a passenger locator form including details of where they have travelled and where they are staying so it can be used by test and trace authorities in the case of an outbreak.

Croatia

Tourists are welcome to travel provided they have taken a negative PCR test within 48 hours of departure, have evidence of previous infection, or are fully vaccinated.

Arrivals will also need to provide evidence that they have paid for accommodation within the country – which can include campsites – or own property there.

Travellers are also required to complete a form, which can either be done on arrival or in advance online.

Cyprus

The Mediterranean island is welcoming tourists provided they have been fully vaccinated, can show evidence of a previous infection or have taken a negative PCR test within 72 hours of departure.

Travellers also need to register for a flight pass no later than 24 hours before departure.

For those using a PCR test to get into the country, details of the test will need to be entered into the online form, meaning they will have to plan the timing of the test carefully.

Turkey

Despite the country being in almost-total lockdown, Turkey is allowing tourists in without a PCR test or evidence of vaccination.

Tourists are largely exempt from the lockdown rules – which have confined Turks to their homes for weeks – while hotels and other businesses involved directly in tourism have been allowed to remain open.

However, many other businesses – such as shops and restaurants – remain closed. City streets are also deserted, which could be a blessing or a curse, depending on your idea of a good holiday.

Spain

Spain will follow Portugal’s lead and let UK tourists in from Monday May 24, the Spanish government confirmed on Friday in an official state bulletin.

British holidaymakers planning to jet to Spain from next week will not have to show proof they have been vaccinated or present a negative PCR coronavirus test, it has been confirmed.

Spain’s veto on British tourists had been extended till May 31 before Friday’s announcement, although the country’s tourism minister Maria Reyes Maroto signalled earlier this month it could be lifted sooner. 

But Spain remains on the UK’s amber list and will not be added to the green list until June at the earliest, but Toni Perez, mayor of seaside tourist destination Benidorm, said he saw the latest announcement as ‘very positive’.

Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez also announced on Friday that tourists from around the world would be allowed to enter the country from June 7 if they had been vaccinated.

Other major European tourist destinations have also begun laying out plans to let tourists back in, though have not finalised them yet. They are…

Italy

Prime Minister Mario Draghi said last week that Italy plans to run its own ‘green pass scheme’ which would allow tourists in from any country provided they are vaccinated, have previously been infected, or have tested negative.

Mr Draghi said the scheme would be in place by ‘mid-May’, raising hopes that it might be ready in time for Britain’s rules to relax on May 17.

But since his initial announcement, no further details have been published leading to frustration and confusion among those hoping to travel. 

France

Currently, France is allowing people into the country for non-essential reasons provided they have a negative PCR test taken 72 hours before arrival. 

However, all UK arrivals must also self-isolate for seven days after arriving or face a £1,000 fine – ruling out a large amount of tourist travel.

Plans are in the works to drop the self isolation requirement, with Emmanuel Macron giving a date of June 9 for the rules to change.  

Under the new plans, all visitors would have to obtain a Pass Sanitaire, essentially a green certificate with evidence of a negative Covid test or vaccination required to qualify.

Like the UK’s roadmap, France’s unlocking requires infections to be falling in order to progress, meaning it could be called off or delayed. 

Cases are currently declining in the country, though at a very gradual pace. 

Other European nations are currently not allowing tourists in, and have not announced plans to allow it. 

This includes Germany, which has made it illegal for companies to transport people there for non-essential purposes. 

Others nations which ban non-essential travel include the likes of Norway, Sweden, the Czech Republic, and Switzerland.   

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk