A UK government minister has said that Spain’s popular holiday islands could soon be placed on England’s green list, according to an article in the BBC.
Although the minister was not named by the BBC, several other UK media sources have reported that Aviation Minister Robert Courts has said that UK tourists could be allowed to visit islands – including Spain’s or Greece’s – even if high infection rates prevent the entire country from being added to the UK’s quarantine-free “green” list.
If this happens, it will mean that British residents living in either of Spain’s archipelagos will be able to travel back to visit friends and family without having to quarantine upon arrival and holidaymakers won’t have to quarantine upon return from the holiday islands.
UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has also indicated that this could be as soon as June 7th and confirmed that islands would be looked at separately when the travel rules are updated.
June 7th is also the date when Spain has announced that all vaccinated travellers will be able to enter the country.
As things stand, The UK Foreign Office “advises against all but essential travel to Spain, including the Balearic Islands but excluding the Canary Islands, based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risks”. That doesn’t mean that the Canaries is on the green list which offers quarantine free travel, however.
Tourism authorities in the Canary and Balearic islands had expect to be judged differently to the rest of mainland Spain ahead of the UK government’s announcement of its traffic light system for safe travel, but finally all of Spain was included as “amber” for travel from May 17th.
Shapps told the transport select committee that he “asked The Joint Biosecurity Centre to consider islands within their criteria and where possible they would look to include if them if facts stacked up”.
However, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that no final decisions had been made yet.
He said that scientific analysis of each destination had to be made, including vaccination levels, infection levels and the ability to track how the virus is evolving.
At the moment this is a waiting game, he said, indicating that the status would change when other countries catch up with UK’s vaccination rate. “Part of this is having the patience to let this come through the system,” Shapps explained.
According to the Telegraph, Prime Minister Boris Johnson also told the Conservative 1922 Committee on May 20th that “quite a few” countries were on the verge of being added to the green list in early June.
Spain is currently vaccinating those in their 50s and completing the inoculation for older age groups, which means that 8.3 million people, representing 18 percent of the population, have already been fully vaccinated.
Secretary of State for Tourism Fernando Valdés told Sky News that “Spain is making a great effort” with its vaccine rollout.
Earlier this month, Spain’s Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto said she was confident that the country would get “green light” status soon.
“Taking into account the advance of the vaccination programme which is happening according to plan and the accumulated incidence of coronavirus is going down, we are confident Spain will soon enter the green list,” she said.
“We are convinced British tourists will be able to holiday in our country this summer if that is their wish,” she added confidently.
A recent article in The Guardian also suggested that Valencian regional authorities are also pushing for the UK to factor in the region’s persistently low fortnightly infection rate – currently around 29 infections per 100,000 people – when deciding which countries – or in this case regions – will be in the next UK travel list evaluation in June.