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, including the Balearic and Canary islands, 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 measure came into effect from midnight on Saturday, meaning that from Sunday all travellers returning to the UK from Spain and the Balearic and Canary islands will have to quarantine themselves for 14 days.
It applies to people returning to any of the four nations of the UK – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
– 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 Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said that there was evidence of an increase in cases in several regions of Spain, particularly Aragon, Navarra and Catalonia – which include the cities of Zaragoza, Pamplona and Barcelona.
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.
– 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 FCO’s travel advice pages on gov.uk for further information.
The FCO is not advising those already travelling in Spain to leave.
Abta – the UK’s travel trade association – has advised customers in the country to continue their holidays and return as normal.
– What should holidaymakers do if they have a trip to Spain booked?
The FCO is advising against all but essential travel to mainland Spain.
Holiday operator Tui has said it will cancel all planned holidays to Spain until August 9 and the Balearic and Canary islands until July 31 in response to the announcement and customers will be contacted to discuss options.
Abta has advised customers due to travel to the country imminently to contact their travel provider.
– Which travellers will the quarantine measures apply to?
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 Majorca and Ibiza, the Department for Transport has confirmed.
– What will happen with travel insurance?
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has said it is “likely” that travel insurance will remain in place for holidaymakers already in Spain until they return home.
However, those attempting to travel to countries against FCO advice would invalidate their travel insurance.
The ABI said people who booked a trip or took out travel insurance after Covid-19 was declared a pandemic may not be covered for travel disruption or cancellation. In either circumstance, travellers should check with their insurer.
– What about employers whose employees have to go into quarantine?
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said no worker following quarantine guidance should be penalised by employers, including by being put on to sick pay.
He said that if someone is following the law in relation to quarantine and self-isolating, “they can’t have penalties taken against them”.
Local government minister Simon Clarke said the Government is encouraging employers to take a “sensible and compassionate” approach to staff who may find themselves having to self-isolate after returning to the UK from abroad.
He said there was the “safety net” of the new employment support allowance or Universal Credit and advances for people in “genuine crisis”.
Labour wants the Government to do more to help quarantining employees.
The conciliation service Acas has advised employees returning from Spain to talk to their employer as soon as possible.
It said unless employees are actually ill, they are unlikely to qualify for statutory sick pay – although an employer could still offer to pay this if it wanted to.
If they have previously been furloughed, they could agree to a further period of furlough to cover the isolation period. Or they could agree a further period of annual leave, a period of unpaid leave or a mix of the two.
– What about people going on holiday elsewhere?
The FCO continues to advise against non-essential international travel except to the countries and territories on its exemption list.
But Mr Clarke said the reality is that holidaymakers travelling abroad during the coronavirus outbreak will have to accept there is a “degree of uncertainty”.
He said people going on holiday should understand that they may be asked to self-isolate on their return and the Government must reserve the right to keep the British public safe.
Shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon said anyone making travel arrangements needs to recognise the restrictions that may be placed upon them by the Government on their return to the UK.