International leisure travel is finally legal again in England.
Jetting off on a foreign holiday is now possible under a traffic light system, with countries classified as green, amber or red and prescribed restrictions to match based on the risk of arrivals importing new Covid-19 infections.
Although holidays are no longer prohibited, there are still myriad hoops travellers must jump through, including pre-departure and post-arrival coronavirus tests taken within a certain timeframe. The government is currently advising that Brits should not be visiting amber or red countries for recreational purposes.
Watch: Spain is to allow UK holidaymakers in without Covid test
On 7 May, transport secretary, Grant Shapps announced that just 12 of countries would be granted ‘green’ status and, to the disappointment of many UK holidaymakers, Spain was not one of them.
He said that the removal of international travel restrictions on 17 May was “necessarily cautious”, adding: “We must make sure the countries we reconnect with are safe.”
The lists are expected to be reviewed and updated every three weeks.
Spain and its islands have long been a favourite destination for Britons, with more than 18 million holidaymakers visiting this Mediterranean hotspot in a normal year. However, the coronavirus pandemic has decimated the travel industry.
But how likely is a Spanish getaway this summer – and what are the current rules on travel? Here’s everything you need to know.
Will British holidaymakers be allowed to travel to Spain this summer?
Those who have been missing Spain’s exquisite coastline and vibrant cities may be in luck – although circumstances may change depending on Covid case numbers.
Spain's Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, has said that from 24 May the nation will be “more than delighted” to welcome back British tourists without any restrictions - there’ll be no testing, quarantine or vaccination requirements.
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However, Spain remains on the government’s ‘amber’ list and current advice states that Brits should not be visiting amber or red countries for recreational purposes.
Travel to an amber country also triggers 10 days of self-isolation and three negative Covid tests for those arriving back into the UK.
Spain is on the amber list - but for how long?
Only a smattering of tourist destinations are on the green list and, at this stage, Spain has not made the cut.
The number of Covid cases, coupled with the speed of its vaccination campaign (to date, less than a third of the country has received a first dose of the vaccine) mean that Spain has been relegated to the amber list.
It’s expected that further updates June may see the country promoted to the green list, with popular holiday hotspots, such as the Balearic and Canary Islands, possibly being awarded green status before the mainland.
The Balearic Islands and the Valencia region – which includes the Costa Blanca – have significantly lower coronavirus contagion rates compared with the rest of the country.
Watch: Should I book a holiday in 2021?
Rosa Ana Morilla Rodriguez, director general of tourism for the islands, told Sky News: “We have the right numbers, we have the right measures in place that will allow us to be considered ‘green’.
“I think Mallorca is such an important destination for the UK that I’m confident we could have this travel corridor. We have told the British ambassador that we have all the factors needed to be considered ‘green’ for the UK,” she said.
Yaiza Castilla, the Canary Islands tourism minister, has also asked the British government to treat the Canaries as a “special case”, separate from the rest of Spain based on their low rate of coronavirus cases.
“The Canary Islands has been characterised by their control of the pandemic with results much lower than in infections which are much lower in other European territories,” she told The Independent.
However, it looks unlikely that Spain will be added to the green list in the next update, due to be announced in the first week of March.
What will travel to an amber list country entail?
Holidaymakers travelling home from a destination on the amber list will need to take a pre-departure test - which can be a lateral flow or rapid antigen test, as well as a PCR test - with proof of a negative result.
Upon arrival to the UK from an amber list country, travellers must self-isolate at home for 10 days, plus have pre-booked and paid to take two PCR tests: one on day two and one on day eight.
Returning travellers in England can opt to pay for a further test on day five and end self-isolation early if it’s negative.
Will I need to have been vaccinated to visit Spain?
No - and, from 24 May, British tourists will be free to enter the country without the requirement to present a negative PCR test.
What restrictions are in place in Spain?
While the country is not currently in lockdown, it is subject to curfew restrictions that limit travel around the country, the opening hours of restaurants and bars and the number of people who can gather for social purposes.
The use of face coverings is mandatory for anyone over the age of six years old on all forms of public transport, and in many other outdoor and indoor public spaces, even when social distancing is observed.
It’s possible that such restrictions may be relaxed when holidaymakers are allowed to re-enter the country.