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Spain to allow UK tourists – but government advice is ‘don’t go’

Written by: Emma Lunn
Spain will allow visitors from the UK for holidays from Monday but the holiday hotspot is still on England’s ‘amber’ list for travel.

The ban on international travel from England was lifted on Monday. Overseas countries are now classified as green, amber or red. Travellers can return to England from green list countries without quarantining. But those returning from amber countries must self-isolate for 10 days.

The news about Spain letting in UK tourists comes after the government was accused of sending mixed messages about holidays abroad. Earlier this week health secretary Matt Hancock said there must be “an exceptional reason” for travel to an amber list country, but environment secretary George Eustice suggested people could travel to amber list countries to see family and friends.

Spain is on England’s amber list, meaning anyone returning has to self-isolate for 10 days and take two COVID tests. But Spain’s government has announced it will allow visitors from the UK and Japan for holidays without a negative PCR test for Covid-19 from Monday.

Spain’s prime minister Pedro Sanchez said: “From Monday, Spain will be delighted, very delighted to welcome all British tourists and tourists from all the countries that I’ve just mentioned. They are welcome to our country without restrictions and without health requirements”.

Sanchez also said that vaccinated travellers from non-European countries including the US will be welcome from June. Spain’s nationwide ‘state of emergency’ declared by the government in October last year came to an end on 9 May. However, some regions still have restrictions and curfews in place.

Meanwhile, there have been warnings that travellers arriving at Heathrow Airport from red list countries have been mixing with those arriving from amber and green list countries due to overcrowding in the arrivals hall.

Union GMB, representing members providing security and hosting services at the airport, says travellers from different lists are stuck in a bottleneck before immigration, mixing without Perspex screens and forced to drink from the same communal water fountain.

GMB says that as soon as the UK opened its borders to India, the situation went ‘ballistic’. Now, as local quarantine hotels fill up, coaches are having to transport red list travellers further afield, leading to longer queues for coaches and creating further bottlenecks.

Nadine Houghton, GMB national officer, said: “I have been inundated by messages from concerned GMB members providing a vital service at Heathrow. Workers who desperately want to get the UK flying again but are in fear for theirs and their family’s safety.

“GMB wants to know how the government will mitigate further problems when more countries are added to colour coded lists? As our quarantine hotels fill up, what measures do ministers have in place if more countries turn Red? How will they cope with more bottlenecks at Heathrow and potentially elsewhere?”

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