Arrivals to the UK from Spain must quarantine for two weeks

Anyone arriving in the UK from Spain must quarantine for 14 days, it has been announced, after the government reacted to a spike in the country's cases of coronavirus.

Spain has been removed from the government’s list of safe countries to travel to, the Department for Transport confirmed, meaning anyone arriving from there must self-isolate for two weeks.

Spain is feared to be "already" tackling its second wave of coronavirus, one of the country's leading experts warned, and restrictions have been reimposed there in an attempt to stem a new spike in cases.

As such, the Foreign Commonwealth Office is advising against all but essential travel to mainland Spain.

Quarantine rules also apply to the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands but the FCO advice does not because "travel advice is based on the risk to the individual traveller and Covid infection rates are lower there than mainland Spain".

The shock announcement has caused confusion among holidaymakers, many of whom have just booked trips to Spain, or are already there.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is among thousands of people currently in Spain who will have to quarantine upon his return - the Department for Transport confirmed he flew there on Saturday morning.

On Friday, one month after lockdown was lifted, Spain reported 922 new cases of Covid-19, prompting its deputy chief of health emergencies María José Sierra to speculate that "it could already be a second wave".

A spokesperson for the UK government said the decision to remove Spain from the list of safe countries was taken following an assessment by the Joint Biosecurity Centre and Public Health England.

The spokesperson said: "Spain has been removed from the lists of countries from which passengers arriving in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are exempted from the need to self-isolate.

"Protecting public health is our absolute priority and we have taken this decision to limit any potential spread to the UK."

Scotland's Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said the decision was taken after the latest data from Spain showed "cause for concern".

He said he understood the news would be "disappointing" but warned how coronavirus is "still active and it is still deadly".

People currently on holiday in Spain are encouraged to follow the local rules, return home as normal and check the FCO’s travel advice pages on for further information.

The government is urging employers to be "understanding" of those returning from Spain who now will need to self-isolate.

British Airways said the Government’s change to travel quarantine rules were “yet another blow for British holidaymakers”.

Airline EasyJet expressed its disappointment at the decision but said it would continue to operate its "full schedule in the coming days".

It said customers no longer wishing to travel could transfer flights without a fee or receive a voucher for the value of their booking.

If flights are cancelled for later in August, customers will be informed of their options, which includes transferring to an alternative flight free of charge, receiving a voucher or applying for a refund.

Labour said the news would be "deeply concerning" for families caught up in the rule change and urged the government to provide support.

Rory Boland, editor of consumer magazine Which? Travel, said: “Many holidaymakers will be deeply angry that the Government didn’t make this decision 48 hours ago, before tens of thousands of them flew off for their summer holidays in Spain.

“Many would not have travelled if they had known they’d face 14 days of quarantine on their return.”

It comes as several regions of Spain - including Catalonia and Madrid - experience surges in new cases of coronavirus.

In Catalonia all nightclubs and late-night bars have been ordered to close for two weeks after a surge in cases was reported among young people.

That follows restrictions being imposed on the town of Totana in the Murcia region on Thursday.

Spain's deputy chief of health emergencies, Ms Sierra, said the Spanish government is keen to impose its own restrictions "early" so a return to a national lockdown can be avoided.

France is advising its citizens not to travel to Catalonia while Norway has announced that anyone returning from Spain must under go a 10-day quarantine.

French health authorities are worried about coronavirus cases surging in the country, with the 'R' number - rate at which coronavirus is transmitted - now thought to be up to 1.3, suggesting that the virus spread is growing.

Officials are warning that the country is going backward in its battle against the pandemic.

“We have thus erased much of the progress that we’d achieved in the first weeks of lockdown-easing,” health authorities said.

They appealed for a return to “collective discipline,” asking people to work from home and get tested if they have any suspicions of infection.

“Concerning the situation in Catalonia, which is displaying worsened indicators for infection, we strongly encourage French citizens to avoid going there until the health situation improves,” French Prime Minister Jean Castex told reporters.