Spain defends decision to welcome back ‘fundamental’ Britons despite France & Germany ban

Indian variant in UK 'poses a problem' says France's Le Drian

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Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez made the decision to allow UK holidaymakers to return for the first time this year on Monday with no Covid test or vaccine requirements. The surprise move came after Germany said it was barring Britons from entering as public health chiefs designated the UK as a virus variant area of concern.

France subsequently followed suit by saying Britons heading to the country would have to quarantine for seven days and provide a negative coronavirus test to prevent the spread of the Indian variant.

Portugal, the first major European holiday destination to be put on the UK’s green travel list, is demanding British tourists show proof of a negative Covid test in order to enter.

The number of UK holidaymakers jetting to Spain has been low so far because of its amber status which means sun-seekers have to quarantine when they return home.

However, Carolina Darias, Spain’s Health Minister, defended the decision to put the UK on the country’s safe list and exempt people from Britain from providing proof of jabs or negative Covid tests.

On June 7 Spain will allow tourists from around the world to enter the country, providing they can prove they have had all their Covid vaccinations.

Speaking after a meeting with regional health chiefs, Mrs Darias said: “We will keep tabs on the situation, but the conditions to open up to tourism are there.

“That’s especially true for British tourism, with the UK being one of the countries with most influence in our tourism market which is a fundamental part of our economy.”

She also highlighted the UK’s low accumulated coronavirus rate as one of the reasons why it was on Spain’s safe list.

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The Balearic Islands and Canary Islands are hoping to make the UK’s green list in the next “traffic light” system review at the start of next month, even if mainland Spain remains on amber.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has confirmed islands would be looked at separately when travel rules are updated on June 7.

However, he told Sky News that this would be dependent on the data which is currently being looked at by the Joint BioSecurity Centre.

“We have always said in the past we have tried to assess islands separately,” he said.

“Whether that is possible or not isn’t just down to the level of infection on those islands, it’s also down to their ability to sequence the genomes that we know about, the variants or potential variants of concern on those islands as well.”

Iago Negueruela, the Balearic Islands’ tourism minister, has spent several weeks campaigning for the region to be treated separately from the Spanish mainland so British tourists can book holidays without having to quarantine on their return.

The islands’ 14-day cumulative coronavirus rate is currently 37.67 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, lower than Portugal’s.

Just over 40 people with Covid are in hospital in the islands, 18 percent less than a week ago.

While Spain currently has no restrictions for arriving Britons, hopeful holidaymakers are being urged not to jet off to the holiday hotspot until it is given the green light by the UK Government.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “I think it’s very important for people to grasp what an amber list country is: it is not somewhere where you should be going on holiday, let me be very clear about that.”

Meanwhile, television’s Dr Amir Khan hit out at those who were considering travelling to Spain while it is on the amber list.

“Flights out of England to Spain have tripled this week which is incredible because Spain is still on the amber list,” he said on ITV’s Lorraine on Tuesday morning.

“You still have to quarantine at home for 10 days, you still have got to have two tests when you come back.

“It’s just not worth it.”

Additional reporting by Natalia Penza.

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