Is Spain about to be added to the UK’s ‘red list’?

Health officials from the UK are this week deciding if Spain should be added to UK’s 'red list' meaning a mandatory 10-day quarantine in a government-approved hotel at a cost of £1,750 per person.

Is Spain about to be added to the UK’s ‘red list’?
Image: Anastasia Gepp/Pixabay

According to recent reports from The Telegraph, the Department of Transport in the UK met with health officials on Wednesday, February 17th to discuss the new Covid variants and to assess whether Spain should be added to the ‘red list’.

This means that if confirmed, anyone travelling from Spain to the UK, including British citizens, will have to quarantine in a government-approved hotel costing up to £1,750 per person.

If Spain is added to the list, passengers to the UK will have to make bookings in advance through a dedicated online portal.

The £1,750 package will include assigned government transportation from the airport or ports, food and drinks, accommodation in a government approved facility and Covid-19 tests.

The government has so far contracted 16 hotels with 4,600 rooms, but more will have to be added if Spain is put on the list.

Currently around 500 people travel from Spain to the UK every day, meaning that many will have to fork out hefty price tags if this is confirmed.

Anyone failing to declare that they arrived from a ‘red list’ country and not buying the package to quarantine for 10 days in a designated hotel, will be fined between £5,000 to £10,000.

A final decision on the new list will be decided at a Cabinet Covid meeting this week.

Countries currently on the UK’s so-called ‘red list’ include several South American and African countries, as well as the United Arab Emirates. The only European country currently on the list is Portugal.

As well as Spain, UK health officials are also considering adding the United States to the list.

Currently all passengers to the UK, no matter which country they have travelled from, need to fill out a passenger locator form and provide proof of a negative PCR test taken no more than three days before departure.

They must also self-quarantine on arrival in the UK, although can do so at a private residence.

Under the current UK rules, travellers to the UK also need to purchase a travel testing package costing £210, which includes Covid-19 tests on day two and day eight of quarantine.

Failure to comply will result in fines of a £1,000 for not getting the first test and a further £2,000 penalty for anyone who doesn’t get the second test. Full details can be found here


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Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”