Coronavirus update: what does the change in rules in respect of travel to Spain mean for UK travellers?
The Government announced on Saturday afternoon that tourists returning from Spain would be required to quarantine (self isolate) for a period of 14 days. The Government made this surprise announcement as a result of a spike in the number of cases in Spain this week. The impact on UK tourists will be significant with millions travelling to Spain each year.
The drastic measures came into force only six hours after the announcement by the Government leaving many tourists uncertain as to what to do and concerned as to their future and current travel plans.
In this bulletin we seek to answer some of the frequently asked questions by tourists:
If I have booked a summer holiday to Spain, will I still be able to go?
The Foreign Office has changed its advice and is now advising against all non-essential travel to Spain, including the Balearic and Canary Islands, based on the current assessment of Covid-19 risks in the country.
Given the FCO guidance, the most important point to consider is that most insurers are unlikely to provide insurance cover if travellers do decide to go on their trips.
However, most large travel companies have cancelled all planned holidays to mainland Spain and the Balearics and Canary Islands.
Will I receive a refund?
Generally, those travelling to mainland Spain and the Balearics and Canary Islands on a package holiday should be able to obtain a refund from their travel company.
There is also the option with some providers to transfer the holiday or to obtain Refund Credit Notes.
However, those not on package holidays and who have only booked flights are unlikely to obtain refunds if the flight is not cancelled by the airline.
What should I do?
You need to contact your travel provider immediately to obtain an update.
What does quarantine mean?
Quarantine is essentially self-isolation and means that those returning from Spain must not go to work, school, or public areas or have visitors except for essential support to their properties. They are also required not to go to buy food from the shops if they can rely on others to do so.
How will this effect my employment?
Travellers are advised to contact their employers to ascertain their position but it should be noted that the Government has encouraged employers to be understanding of the evolving picture.
Does this only apply to Spain?
At present there are numerous countries with travel restrictions and full details can be found on the FCO website. However, there are still more than 50 countries on the Government "reduced risk" list where arrivals are exempt from quarantine.
These currently include, but is not limited to, Italy, Turkey, France, Croatia, Belgium, Germany, Greece. However, if you arrive back from Canada, the US and much of Central America you are also required to quarantine.
It should also be noted that it is being reported in the press that there is potential that other countries such as France and Germany may be added to the list of those countries requiring quarantine due to their rising Covid-19 rates. It is therefore important to stay abreast of the developing situation and to refer regularly to the FCO website for guidance.
If I decide to cancel my holiday but it is still taking place will I obtain a refund from my accommodation provider?
The answer to this will be determined on a case by case basis, by reference to your booking conditions. You should approach your travel company for confirmation of their stance on this before cancelling, however, they may argue that because the holiday is able to take place then no refund is available.
You should expect your insurer is unlikely to provide cover for cancellation due to a personal disinclination to travel when the travel company is running the flights/holiday.
These are uncertain times and tourists may find themselves in very difficult positions over the next few weeks and months which emphasises the importance of appropriate travel insurance and making sure that travellers are comfortable with the terms and conditions when booking a holiday.