In an announcement that caught many of us by complete surprise, the United Kingdom Government have confirmed that they have added Spain to the list of countries from which travellers must undergo a 14 day self-isolation quarantine on their return to the U.K.
Until now, Spain has been on a list of exempted countries, meaning a quarantine is not required for travellers returning to the U.K. Its removal from the list of exempt countries follows “a significant change over the last week in both the level and pace” of coronavirus cases in Spain, the government said.
The news came as a complete shock to the local tourism sector who have been starting to report some limited tourism business in its hotels, hospitality and leisure businesses. In the Balearics, Ibiza will feel the impact far more than its neighbours Mallorca and Menorca, as Ibiza has a much higher reliance on business from the U.K. than the rest of the Islands.
The announcement initially caused some confusion and the circulation of misinformation as it was unclear whether the Balearics were included. As the dust settled it is evident that the U.K. Government have recognised the excellent covid-19 statistics of the Balearic Islands by not including them with Mainland Spain on the list of places where travel should only be undertaken for essential reasons. However, despite this acknowledgement, travellers to the Balearics MUST ISOLATE for 14 days on their return as with travellers from mainland Spain. In practical terms it is felt that the quarantine will be the deciding issue for travellers, and the fact that the U.K. Government are saying that the Balearics are a safer place to quarantine from will have little beneficial effect. So what is the difference between the Balearics and mainland Spain? The only impactful issue may be that of travel insurance. As the Balearics are not on the FCO essential travel only list, travel insurance will be valid and hence from that point of view tourists may be more likely to visit the Balearics than the mainland where their insurance may not be valid – but it is a minor point that will have little impact offsetting the overwhelming damaging nature of the 14 day quarantine.
The reaction from Ibiza’s community, directly and indirectly connected with the tourism sector, has been that of despondency and a resignation that this may be the final nail in the coffin of any prospect of an adequate 2020 season. Most had already accepted that 2020 will not be a season of success, with survival the only realistic target. This latest news will make even that a much harder prospect for some.
The foreign and commonwealth office have issued the following guidelines for travellers regarding the quarantine and its enforcement.
The government is now advising “against all but essential travel to mainland Spain”.
The Balearic Islands and The Canary Islands do not have a travel advisory, but are included in all protocols as they apply to people returning to the U.K. from Spain.
People already in Spain can stay for the remainder of their holiday.
From Sunday, they will have to self-isolate for two weeks upon their return.
The rules apply to travellers arriving from anywhere in Spain – including the Canary and Balearic Islands, and apply to travellers arriving into England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland as their final destination (i.e. those travelling through on connecting flights do not have to quarantine in the U.K.)
Travellers from affected countries – including UK nationals – are asked to provide an address where they will self-isolate for 14 days. They can be fined £100 for failing to fill in a form with these details.
One in five eligible passengers will be called or texted to check they are following the rules. Those in England could be fined up to £1,000 if they fail to self-isolate.
Passengers should drive in their own car to their destination, where possible. If they don’t provide an address, the government will arrange accommodation at the traveller’s expense.
Once at their destination, they must not use public transport or taxis during the quarantine period. They must also not go to work, school, or public areas, or have visitors except for essential support.
Not are they allowed to go out to buy food, or other essentials, if they can rely on others.
People returning from overseas will not be automatically eligible for statutory sick pay during this period, unless they meet the required conditions – for example displaying coronavirus symptoms.