UK adds Spain to quarantine list: What does this mean for holidaymakers?

Tenerife Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

The UK has removed Spain from its list of safe countries to travel to after fears were raised that the European country was experiencing a second wave of coronavirus infections.

It means those returning from the country will have to self-isolate for two weeks upon their return to the UK.

Here is what it means for holidaymakers:

When will holidaymakers have to self-isolate?

The measures came into effect from midnight on July 26, meaning that as of Sunday all returning travellers have to isolate for 14 days.

The quarantine applies to people returning to any of the four nations of the UK – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The UK Government has advised against all non-essential travel to Spain Credit: Lauren Hurley/PA

Why is it being brought in now?

The Government said the move follows a “significant change” over the last week in both the level and pace of change in confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Spain.

The country has reported more than 900 new daily infections for the past two days.

Figures from the World Health Organisation show that new confirmed cases almost doubled from 6 July to 13 July, when there were more than 9,000 across the whole of Spain. 

Catalonia became the latest region to crack down on nightlife, trying to halt new infection clusters.

The wealthy north-east region – home to Barcelona – ordered all nightclubs to close for 15 days and put a midnight curfew on bars in the greater Barcelona area and other towns around Lleida that have become contagion hot zones.

Authorities are cracking down on nightlife in Catalonia Credit: Chris Ison/PA

What should people do if they are already in Spain?

People currently on holiday in Spain have been encouraged to follow the local rules, return home as normal and check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s (FCO) travel advice pages on gov.uk for further information.

The FCO is not advising those already travelling in Spain to leave at this time.

What should holidaymakers do if they have a holiday booked to Spain?

The FCO is advising against all but essential travel to Spain, the Canary Islands (Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro and La Graciosa) and the Balearic Islands, such as Mallorca and Ibiza.

The warning means that the travel insurance of anyone who travels to Spain in the future is invalid. However if you travelled to Spain before the warning was announced on July 25, your insurance will remain valid.

Holiday operator Tui has said it will cancel all package holidays to Spain in response to the announcement until August 9 and customers will be contacted to discuss options.

Easyjet Holidays has announced all of its Spain holidays are cancelled until August 1.

Jet2 and British Airways Holidays are likely to cancel package holidays. 

But consumer group Which advises customers to wait for the holiday company to cancel the holiday to claim a refund - don’t cancel the holiday yourself. 

Abta – the UK’s travel trade association – has advised customers due to travel to the country imminently to contact their travel provider.

Tui said it will cancel all planned holidays to Spain Credit: Peter Byrne/PA

What about flights to Spain?

EasyJet and British Airways have said they will continue to fly to Spain, despite the FCO warning and quarantine rules.

Ryanair is likely to do the same. If your flight isn’t cancelled, you won’t be able to claim a refund.

EasyJet said it planned to operate its full schedule in the coming days.

A spokeswoman said: “Customers who no longer wish to travel can transfer their flights without a change fee or receive a voucher for the value of the booking.

“Should any flights be cancelled for later in August customers will be notified and informed of their options which includes transferring to an alternative flight free of charge, receiving a voucher or applying for a refund.”

What about hotel bookings?

Hotels in Spain will remain open, which means you won't be able to claim a refund.

If you want to cancel, you’ll have to check the T&Cs of your booking and some online booking websites, like Booking.com and Airbnb, do offer last minute cancellation on some listings.

Does the quarantine apply if the holidaymaker has been to a Spanish island?

Quarantine measures will apply to those returning from mainland Spain, the Canary Islands (Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro and La Graciosa) and the Balearic Islands, such as Mallorca and Ibiza.

But the Canary and Balearic Islands are exempt from the FCO advice against all non-essential travel.

What happens if Spain announces local/regional lockdowns?

If you are travelling to an area affected by an official government lockdown, your tour operator will cancel your holiday, in which case you’ll be entitled to a full refund.

Some holiday companies have said they will bring clients home early if the lockdown happens mid-holiday, in which case the Package Travel Regulations stipulate that you’d be entitled to a pro-rata refund for any unused days.

You won’t be required to come home early in the case of voluntary lockdowns, like the one in Barcelona. But nor will you be able to claim a refund if you don’t want to travel.