Spain to remain on UK amber travel list, boosting hopes for battered tourism sector

Despite fears of stricter restrictions due to high coronavirus case rates, fully vaccinated travelers will not have to quarantine when they return from their Spanish vacation

A beach in Huelva, in southwestern Spain.
A beach in Huelva, in southwestern Spain.Ayuntamiento de Huelva (Europa Press)

The Spanish tourism industry is breathing a sigh of relief after learning that the United Kingdom has not introduced stricter rules for Spain as part of an update to its traffic-light system for travel announced on Thursday.

Spain will for now remain on the amber list, meaning that fully vaccinated travelers may return from their Spanish holidays without the need to quarantine.

A high coronavirus infection rate had fueled speculation that UK authorities might introduce more restrictions for returning travelers, but this has not been the case.

The only change is the recommendation that passengers take a PCR test before their return rather than an antigen test, but this is not mandatory.

Spain is a major vacation destination for British tourists, who accounted for over 20% of all arrivals in 2019. But tourism was reduced to near-zero last year due to coronavirus restrictions that included a three-month home confinement between May and June. And recent industry figures show that foreign tourist arrivals hit a new low in the first half of 2021.

The UK government said that no more changes to the traffic-light system would be made for at least three weeks.The new rules go into effect at 4am on August 8.

The rules initially apply to England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, until Wales decides whether to follow suit.

Under the new updated travel list, some countries are moving from amber to red, including Mexico, while France has been taken off the amber-plus list, which meant that returning travelers had to quarantine regardless of their vaccination status. Putting Spain on this list had also been a possibility that UK authorities ruled out in the end.

English version by Susana Urra.

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