- Quote: ‘The wolves are at the door – every day counts if we are to regain our summer season’.
By Andrew Atkinson
Spain could be on the verge of turning their back on French and German attempts to introduce quarantine for travelling Brits to the country this summer.
“We don’t have any restrictions on tourists from the UK at the moment,” said Spain tourism minister Maria Reyes Maroto.
Spain will not roll over like a puppy and are set to fight the attempt to get the whole of Europe to enforce mandatory quarantine, spearheaded by officials from France and Germany.
“They’re the ones who are placing restrictions on people when they return.
“Hopefully we can begin to receive British tourists soon,” said Maroto.
German chancellor Angela Merkel has demanded a blanket 14-day isolation for British travellers across Europe to halt the spread of the Delta Covid variant.
Merkel is supported by French president Emmanuel Macron, this despite UK PM Boris Johnson potentially easing coronavirus restrictions this summer for those who have had two vaccines.
Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya says Spain expect to rebuff Merkel – by allowing British tourists without demanding quarantine.
She said at a press conference in Madrid: “At the moment we are maintaining the measures which enable British citizens to enter our territory.”
Spain’s Balearic Islands, Madeira, Malta and Barbados are among the places being added to the UK’s green travel list from June 30.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps also confirmed the government intended to drop quarantine – for fully vaccinated people – returning from amber list countries later this summer.
The additions to the green list, with the exception of Malta, had also been added to the green watch list.
The easing of restrictions on UK travellers heading to the Balearic Islands has prompted elation among officials and businesses.
Environment secretary George Eustice has hit out at the EU leaders’ plans.
Individual countries are able to set their own rules on quarantine for British travellers.
“Each country is taking their own decisions on this, so it will be for them to judge what approach they want to take.
“I’m not sure that such an approach would be justified, given the highly advanced stage we are currently now at in terms of vaccination, with 80 per cent having had one jab and over 60 per cent having had the second jab.
“I don’t think such a move would be justified – but obviously it’s for individual countries to make these judgments,” he said.
Double-vaccinated Brits could visit amber listed countries, without the need to isolate on their return from July, it has been reported.
Those waiting to visit Spain for a summer holiday were given hope over moves to replace quarantine with daily testing for those with two vaccinations.
Initially it was understood that the new scheme would come into force from August.
The Costa Blanca and Costa Calida areas have seen a significant reduction in coronavirus cases in recent months – yet they were placed alongside the rest of Spain on the UK amber travel list.
It has now been reported that the double-jab travel exemption could be rolled out from July 19 – the new date lockdown restrictions are scheduled to be lifted. Mooted to be brought forward earlier.
Taking the traffic light system as it currently is, self-isolation requirements for Spain would be dropped.
Ministers including Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and Chancellor Rishi Sunak are pushing for curbs on international travel to be lifted from July 19.
Travel bosses warned it could come too late to save many coronavirus hit firms and accused ministers of failing to capitalise on the success of the vaccine to boost the industry.
TUI’s Andrew Flintham said No. 10 was not making the most of the vaccine programme to boost beleaguered holiday businesses.
Association of British Travel Agents chief executive Mark Tanzer blasted ministers for telling people not to travel to amber list countries – despite the jab successes.
He told Travel Matters conference: “This general, ‘Don’t travel’ is damaging to the industry.
“The Government has further damaged the immediate prospects for international travel by warning against leisure travel to amber list countries, despite having its own system of testing and quarantining, adding another major customer disincentive to the hurdles already in place.
“The danger we face is here and now. The wolves are at the door.
“Every day counts in regaining this summer season, getting customers confident to book and to travel, and getting money into cash-starved businesses.
“We come together at the darkest hour in recent travel history. They say the darkest hour is right before the dawn.
“This dawn has been a long time coming, and we desperately need to see day breaking soon.”
Whether Spain defies EU leaders – who have agreed to step-up the coordination of travel restrictions – awaits to be seen.