From Sunday 26th July 2020, the UK has removed Spain from its list of safe countries to travel to after fears were raised that the European country was experiencing a second wave of coronavirus infections. It means those returning from the country will have to go into quarantine and self-isolate for two weeks upon their return to the UK.
When will holidaymakers have to self-isolate?
From Sunday 26 July 2020 all returning travellers will be have to isolate for 14 days. The quarantine applies to people returning to any of the four nations of the UK – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Why is it being brought in now?
The Government said the move follows a “significant change” over the last week in both the level and pace of change in confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Spain. The country has reported more than 900 new daily infections for the past two days.
What should people do if they are already in Spain?
People currently on holiday in Spain have been encouraged to follow the local rules, return home as normal and check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s (FCO) travel advice pages on gov.uk for further information. The FCO is not advising those already travelling in Spain to leave at this time.
What exactly does quarantine involve?
Arriving travellers are required to go direct to their home or to other suitable accommodation. They may do so by public transport.
The “quarantinee” must immediately self-isolate for 14 days, timed from the day following their arrival.
For example, a holidaymaker who flew out to Spain for a week’s holiday on the last no-quarantine day, 25 July, will return on 1 August.
Their self-isolation must begin immediately, but the clock starts ticking only on 2 August – and so the first time they will be able to venture out is immediately after midnight on 16th August.
Meanwhile they can leave home only for medical assistance, to attend court or a funeral – or to go shopping for essentials if there is no one else who can supply provisions. Leaving home for work, exercise, socialising or walking the dog is not permitted.
What happens if I break quarantine?
The penalty for failing to comply is £1,000 (reduced to £480 in Scotland).
Who is checking up?
The public health authorities have been making some tracking calls, though the majority of holidaymakers arriving recently from quarantine-obligatory countries appear not to have been contacted.
The resources that will now be required to quarantine will make it challenging for officials to keep tabs on travellers.
If my employees go abroad, will they need to self-isolate for 14 days on their return?
Yes, unless they are exempt from self-isolation under the rules.
If any of your employees are planning any overseas travel for personal purposes, we recommend that you discuss the quarantine requirements with them before they go. If the employee is not able to work from home on their return, you will need to decide what will happen on their return to the UK. Options may include a period of unpaid leave, or a period of extended annual leave to cover the self-isolation period.
What should holidaymakers do if they have a holiday booked to Spain?
The FCO is advising against all but essential travel to mainland Spain. Holiday operator Tui has said it will cancel all planned holidays to Spain in response to the announcement and customers will be contacted to discuss options.
Abta – the UK’s travel trade association – has advised customers due to travel to the country imminently to contact their travel provider. Meanwhile, airline easyJet said it planned to operate its full schedule in the coming days. A spokeswoman said: “Customers who no longer wish to travel can transfer their flights without a change fee or receive a voucher for the value of the booking. Should any flights be cancelled for later in August customers will be notified and informed of their options which includes transferring to an alternative flight free of charge, receiving a voucher or applying for a refund.”
Does the quarantine apply if the holidaymaker has been to a Spanish island?
Quarantine measures will apply to those returning from mainland Spain, the Canary Islands (Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro and La Graciosa) and the Balearic Islands, such as Mallorca and Ibiza, the Department for Transport confirmed.
If you’re still not sure what to do when it comes to employees who are returning from holiday in Spain or who are planning to travel, we are offering new clients the opportunity to purchase HR support hours which can be used when required. To find out more, call us today on 01792 296178 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information for employers is also available on the blog section of our website