A summer holiday in Spain may be possible in 2021 if plans to open borders to British travellers go ahead.
The Spanish government has announced that travel from the UK may be possible from June provided the infection rate continues its downward trend.
2021 is the last year that British citizens can travel to Spain without an ETIAS visa waiver. The new travel authorisation will be introduced in 2022 and UK passport holders will need to register before visiting European destinations including Spain.
When can I travel to Spain?
The Spanish tourism minister, Reyes Maroto, recently told reporters that British tourists could be welcomed back as soon as May 20, 2021.
The government plans to lift restrictions on some travel from outside the EU. Under the plans, holidaymakers from the UK could enter Spain without having to present a negative PCR test on arrival.
The easing of entry requirements has been proposed to boost the Spanish tourism sector which continues to feel the economic effects of the pandemic. British visitors to Spain dropped 82% in 2020 compared with the previous year.
With no need to have a PCR test before travelling, British tourists have a greater incentive to choose Spain for their summer holiday.
What do I need to travel to Spain?
Whilst Spain is talking about dropping the COVID-19 test requirement for British travellers, an FCS Health Control Form is still required.
This can be completed online, travellers need to give their contact details and flight information. A QR code is generated which needs to be shown on arrival. It is similar to the passenger locator form for the UK.
Despite Brexit, British travellers may still holiday in Spain visa-free, only a valid passport is required until ETIAS is introduced. It’s important to remember, however, that the maximum length of stay is now capped at 90 days per 180-day period.
British citizens travelling abroad are encouraged to take out travel health insurance.
Returning to the UK
Before British travellers rush to book their week in the sun, however, they need to consider the requirements when returning home.
The UK government has released its red, amber, and green list rules for entering the UK. Countries and territories have been classified based on the risk travelling there poses.
Spain has been placed on the amber list. This means that, before returning to England, holidaymakers must:
- Have a COVID-19 test in Spain
- Book day 2 and day 8 COVID-19 tests to be taken after arriving in England
- Fill out a passenger locator form online
After arriving back in England from Spain, travellers need to
- Quarantine at home for 10 days
- Take the pre-booked COVID-19 tests on days 2 and 8
The UK will be reviewing and updating the lists in the coming weeks, Brits hoping to head abroad once restrictions are lifted should stay up to date with the latest developments. Furthermore, rules for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland may differ.
What is the situation in Spain?
So, what is the situation currently in Spain and how likely is it that it will be moved onto the green list in time for the summer?
Thanks to the vaccine rollout and various other lockdown measures, the COVID-19 infection rate in Spain has fallen to around 13% of the peak.
One in 3 people has received at least 1 dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, 32.7% of the population. Spain will start vaccinating the under 50s from June, according to Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.
Some are hopeful that this improving situation could lead to Spain being moved to the green list soon, however, this is far from guaranteed.
Vaccine certificates for Spain
There has been much discussion in recent weeks about vaccine certificates or ‘passports’ in the UK and Europe. The EU is set to implement its Digital Green Certificate by June. However, this is only for EU citizens and residents and will be used to travel within the European Union.
The NHS app will be ready to use as proof of vaccination by the summer. Spain and other European nations could use proof of immunisation to reduce other entry restrictions.
The EU Commission has suggested that anyone who has received the last dose of an EU-approved vaccine at least 14 days before departure could be allowed to travel.
The EU has approved 4 vaccines: Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca, Moderna, and Janssen/Johnson & Johnson.
All 3 of the vaccines issued in the UK (Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Moderna) are therefore covered.
Are hotels open in Spain?
Many hotels are now open in Spain with more expected to welcome guests back before the summer, especially in major tourist destinations.
Restaurants and bars can also open for indoor and outdoor dining. Different regions have different rules on opening hours and capacity.
One difference between the UK and Spain is that face masks must be worn at all times, both inside and out. This may change in the coming weeks if certain vaccine targets are reached.
Spain’s COVID-19 rules and entry restrictions may change at short notice. British citizens must make sure they have all the latest information before making any travel plans.