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Don’t holiday in Spain, Brit Health secretary says

written by Adam Thorn | May 17, 2021
A Ryanair plane touches down at Dublin (Source: Ryanair)

Budget European carriers were dealt a blow to hopes they could enjoy a summer renaissance after British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Brits should “certainly not” travel to countries such as Spain and Greece on holiday.

He told Times Radio that residents should only fly to “amber list” countries – which require home quarantine on return – if “absolutely necessary” despite the UK’s travel ban ending.

His comments come after Prime Minister Boris Johnson hinted last week that it’s unlikely that more countries would be added to the quarantine-free green list. The comments are significant for the aviation industry because 17.4 million Brits visited Spain in 2019, pre-COVID.

“People should not travel to amber or red list countries unless it’s absolutely necessary, and certainly not for holiday purposes,” Hancock told Times Radio.

“Our borders, testing [and] surveillance is the best in the world and it means that we can spot problems in other countries sometimes before they know they’ve got a problem themselves.

“So the green list is here for exactly this reason to provide for a safe way where we know that it’s OK and safe to go abroad.”

Last week, the UK released its new traffic light system indicated which countries Brits can travel to when international travel resumed on 17 May.

The vast majority of the world remains on the UK’s ‘amber’ or ‘red’ lists, which, under the UK’s traffic light system, require travellers to spend 10 days in either self-isolation or hotel quarantine, respectively.

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All travellers, regardless of ‘green’, ‘amber’ or ‘red’ status, will be required to fill out a passenger locator declaration form, as well as present a negative PCR COVID test before they fly to the UK.

Notably, top tourist and airline revenue-driving destinations – such as Spain, France, Italy and the United States – have all fallen on the ‘amber’ list, which means travellers will need to self-isolate for up to 10 days.

These travellers can perform a ‘test to release’ PCR test on day five after entering the UK, and may then leave isolation should they receive a negative result.

Meanwhile, Turkey, another tourist spot, was placed on the ‘red’ list, which will see anyone entering the UK required to spend 10 days in hotel quarantine at their own cost.

The 12 countries that made it to the UK’s green list, which doesn’t require any self-isolation or quarantine, include Australia, New Zealand, Portugal, Israel, Singapore, Brunei, Iceland, Gibraltar, Falkland Islands, Faroe Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands and St Helena, Tristan de Cunha, Ascension Island.

The news comes despite Spain appearing to earlier confirm British travellers would be able to visit in June.

The country’s Tourism Minister, Fernando Valdes Verelst, has revealed the two countries’ governments are planning to collaborate on a digital health pass to allow travel.

Speaking at the World Travel and Tourism Council’s summit in Mexico, Minister Verelst said, “June will be the start of the recovery of tourism in Spain.

“By then, we will have a digital vaccination certificate in place and we will be able to reopen our borders.”

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