• Quote: ‘Data on the risk of new variants from Spain will be scrutinised before Ministers at the Cabinet Covid Operations Committee decide if they should go on the list’

By Andrew Atkinson

Spain could be added to the UK ‘red list’ of countries – with travellers having to quarantine in hotels at their own cost.

Officials are said to be considering expanding the list of countries, where travellers must isolate in a Government-approved hotel on arrival to the UK.

The latest data on the risk of new variants from Spain will be scrutinised before ministers at the Cabinet Covid Operations Committee decide if they should be added to the list.

Spain has reportedly had local transmission of new variants, geographically linked to Portugal, who are subject to UK foreign travel bans.

The new measures are a bid to stop the spread of new variants of coronavirus that was put in place in mid-February.

UK nationals or residents returning from 33 “red list” countries – deemed hotspots with Covid-19 variants in circulation – are required to quarantine in hotels for 10 days.

The Daily Telegraph reports that a Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “If more countries are added to the ‘red list’, and passenger numbers from ‘red list’ countries start to increase, then we are prepared to put in place managed quarantine facilities at the required airports.

“We are monitoring the situation closely, and have extensive contingency plans dependent on the changing situation.”

Ministers are to meet in the last week of February, where they will reportedly decide if Spain – along with the USA – should be added to the “red list”.

Under the rules travellers arriving in England must quarantine in a hotel – at their own cost – if they have been in one of the Government’s 33 “red list” countries, covering Portugal, the United Arab Emirates, South America and southern Africa, in the past 10 days.

The UK has banned direct flights from those locations. Passengers must take connecting flights, mixing with passengers from countries not on the list.

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds claimed the policy creates an unacceptable risk to the health of the British people: “The public will not forgive the UK Government for getting this wrong,” he said.