Spain rocked by new testing restrictions as UK announces fears over Covid variants

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The Government is urging all passengers travelling from Spain to the UK to take a PCR test before departing. Currently, rules only state travellers returning from green or amber list countries must take a pre-departure test – this can be a lateral flow or a PCR test.

However, a rise in coronavirus cases and subsequent variants, has led the Government to issue a new warning to those flying to the UK.

In an update on Wednesday evening, the Department of Transport said it was advising the use of a PCR test specifically for pre-departure.

The advice states: “Arrivals from Spain and all its islands are advised to use a PCR test as their pre-departure test wherever possible, as a precaution against the increased prevalence of the virus and variants in the country.”

UK clinicians and scientists are said to be in close contact with their counterparts in Spain to keep abreast of the latest data and picture of cases in Spain.

“The additional precaution of a PCR test as passengers’ pre-departure test is being recommended for travellers from Spain given the risk to the UK of importation of variants of concern, specifically the B.1.621 and Beta variants, as well as traveller volumes and positivity rates in Spain,” explained the Department of Transport.

“Positive samples from PCR tests can be genomically sequenced, allowing us to detect and understand more about variants of concern.”

The European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) has placed Spain and the Balearic Islands into its “dark red” categorise and warned against unnecessary travel to the country.

It comes as the country registered more than 500 infections per 100,000 inhabitants during the previous 14 days.

As of August 4, 2021, Spain has 4,523,310 active cases of COVID-19.

However, the nation remains on the UK’s amber list, alongside the Canary and Balearic Islands.

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This means travellers who have received both doses of a coronavirus vaccine administered and authorised in the UK, US or EU are permitted to enter the UK without quarantine.

They are required to take two Covid tests, however.

This includes a pre-departure test, alongside a test on day two of their arrival.

The decision is likely good news for Spain’s tourism sector, which has seen a drastic downfall in foot traffic from the UK.

Local reports suggest that British tourists are no longer Spain’s main market, with Germany and France overtaking the UK in terms of tourism figures.

Though Spain is welcoming back foreign visitors, in June it saw 2.2 million arrivals – 75 percent less than in the same month of 2019.

However, the figures remain meek compared with 2019, when 18 million Britons alone visited Spain, including 3.7 million who headed to the Balearics.

Around 22 percent of all arrivals to Spain during the summer so far have been from Germany.

Meanwhile, French holidaymakers have become the second highest tourist market for Spain.

The Department of Transport issued its PCR test warning in line with its latest traffic light update which saw seven countries added to the green list.

These include Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Romania and Norway.

Four nations will move to the amber list, meanwhile, a further four are moving onto the red list.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “We are committed to opening up international travel safely, taking advantage of the gains we’ve made through our successful vaccination programme, helping connect families, friends and businesses around the world.

“While we must continue to be cautious, today’s changes reopen a range of different holiday destinations across the globe, which is good news for both the sector and travelling public.”

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