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Published on Saturday, July 25, 2020

UK closes air corridor to Spain and warns against non-essential travel to mainland

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is advising against all non-essential travel to the Spanish mainland, because of concerns over a spike in coronavirus infections.

The FCO's renewed advice, issued at 8pm on Saturday night, does not apply to the Spanish islands.

However, the whole country has been taken off the UK government's separate 'safe list', meaning Brits returning from anywhere in Spain after midnight on 25 July - including the Balearics or Canary Islands -  will have to quarantine for 14 days.

The FCO said: "From 25 July, the FCO advises against all non-essential travel to mainland Spain based on the current assessment of Covid-19 risks.

"Only the Canary Islands (Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro and La Graciosa) and Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera) are exempt from the FCO advice against all non-essential international travel.

"This advice is based on evidence of increases in cases of Covid-19 in several regions, but particularly in Aragon, Navarra and Catalonia (which include the cities of Zaragoza, Pamplona and Barcelona)."

The FCO is not advising Brits currently travelling in Spain to leave, but said: "Travellers should follow the advice of the local authorities on how best to protect themselves and others, including any measures that they bring in to control the virus."

The FCO added: "Public Health England are continuing to monitor the situation in the Balearic and Canary Islands closely. Travellers there should continue to check this advice regularly."

Earlier, the Scottish government, which only lifted its 14-day-quarantine rule on Spain on Monday, said it had taken Spain off its safe list.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: "Having reviewed the latest data earlier today, [the Scottish Government] is also reimposing 14 day quarantine for travellers returning from Spain. This reinforces the point that these matters are subject to change at short notice & so my advice is to be cautious about non-essential foreign travel."

The Department for Transport then said: "Following a significant change over the last week in both the level and pace of change in confirmed cases, Spain has been removed from the list of countries where people do not have to self-isolate when arriving into to the UK.

"People currently on holiday in Spain are encouraged to follow the local rules, return home as normal and check the FCO's [The Foreign and Commonwealth Office] travel advice pages on for further information."

The government asked employers to show  'understanding' to worker s returning from Spain who need to self-isolate.

Earlier this week TUI said it would suspend its Spain programme if the country was taken off the safe list. The company said on Saturday it was axing all flights.

Joanne Dooey, President of the Scottish Passenger Agents Association, described the government's decision on Spain as 'devastating'.

"Safety has always been foremost in our thoughts, but this is yet more bad news for the beleaguered travel industry," she said.

"Travel agents have faced a torrid time since lockdown and whilst bookings are steady for 2021, the sector has been massively affected. Agents have worked tirelessly to rebook holidays for their clients. Tonight's news means that they will be rebooking their clients now for a second or third time."

VIVID Travel Managing Director Kane Pirie said: "It is quite right the that government keeps all measures under review but to change the quarantine requirements at point blank notice is extreme, and not warranted by the developments in Spain.

"Customers who travelled in good faith will feel played offside and understandably aggrieved."

The FCO  announcement on Spain comes a day after five countries were added to the government's 'safe' list. Despite lobbying by Portuguese officials and the travel industry, Portugal was left off the list.

By Lisa James, Deputy Editor (UK)

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