The decision was published by the British Embassy in Spain on the afternoon of Friday May 7th, ten days ahead of the anticipated date when UK nationals will be allowed to go on holiday abroad without having to offer a “reasonable excuse”. The list as published applies to England only.
No regions in Spain have been included on the green travel list which allows travellers to avoid quarantine upon return to England.
That means that even the Canary Islands, which up to now the British government did not discourage travel to, as well as the Balearic Islands, are now classified as amber list areas.
In fact, the British government website states that UK holidaymakers “should not travel to amber list countries or territories for leisure purposes”.
UK authorities have said that from May 17th, people in England will be allowed to travel abroad for their holidays, so this suggests that they are discouraging travel to Spain and other amber countries rather than outright banning non-essential travel to these areas.
“Whilst the British Government wants to see the safe return of international travel, we have decided that given the risk posed by variants of concern, and to protect the progress that the UK has made on vaccination rollout, we need to maintain strict border measures and testing requirements,” the British Embassy wrote on its Facebook page.
“This means that only a very limited number of countries (12) have been categorised as green in our new traffic light system. We are removing the stay in the UK restrictions from the 17th of May, but the UK government has said that people should not be travelling to red or amber countries for leisure. Spain has been categorised as an amber country”.
Neighbouring Portugal and Gibraltar are among the small list of countries and territories included in the UK’s green travel list.
As a result of falling into the amber category, travel to Spain from England will require three PCR tests and a 10-day quarantine on return, which can be done at home (Spain also asks for negative PCR to enter).
The UK’s traffic light system for travel will be reviewed every three weeks.
“As the epidemiological situation improves worldwide, the UK government expects that more destinations will be added to the green list,” reads the UK embassy statement.
Boris Johnson’s government is given advice regarding travel restrictions by the UK’s Global Travel Taskforce, the official body responsible for helping to set out the travel rules for the United Kingdom.
UK holidaymakers are crucial to the recovery of Spain’s ailing tourism industry, representing 22.5 percent of international tourists in 2019 – 18 million people who spent €17.9 billion on their Spanish holidays.
A quick summary of the UK’s travel rules
As many of you will know already, the UK operates a ‘traffic light’ system which helps determine what people travelling to the UK have to do based on where they are travelling from.
These are the classifications and their requirements for travel from May 17th.
Green: Covid-19 test before travelling back to the UK, PCR test on or before day 2 of arrival back in the UK but no need to quarantine unless PCR test is positive.
Amber: Covid test before travelling back to the UK, quarantine at home for 10 days, PCR test on days 2 and 8 after arrival, with the option of a test on day 5 for early release from quarantine
Red: Covid test before travelling back to the UK, 10-day stay in a managed quarantine hotel at the expense of the traveller, PCR tests on days 2 and 8 of arrival back in the UK
Spain currently falls into the “amber” category, whereas neighbouring Portugal is on the “green” list.The initial list applied to people in England only, but Scottish authorities on Tuesday May 11th decided to provide the same parameters for its citizens as well.
The countries and territories on the UK’s green list are currently:
Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores)
The South Sandwich Islands
Tristan da Cunha