Wow, even those who work in the travel industry were shocked at the government’s decision to suddenly announce last night that mainland Spain was back on its no-go list – on the same day as tens of thousands of families jetted off on their summer holidays.
Sure, there had been rumblings for days that the government was concerned at the rising incidence of coronavirus cases in Spain and it was expected that it would reintroduce a quarantine for holidaymakers returning at some point, but the timing last night couldn’t have been worse.
At the same time the Foreign Office said it’s no longer safe to take a holiday in mainland Spain, but it’s still okay to go to the Balearics (Ibiza, Majorca and Menorca) and the Canary Islands including Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Tenerife.
Unfortunately, what this shows us is that booking a holiday this summer is still risky and if you do decide to go away, your plans could be horribly disrupted.
If you are due to go to Spain soon, here’s the best advice for what your rights are, whether you’ve booked a package or a flight and hotel separately.
If you’re still planning your summer holiday, the safest option is to book a package with a reputable tour operator, alternatively check your airline and hotel T&Cs to see if they allow refunds for last-minute cancellations. You might have to pay more for flexibility, but with no cast-iron guarantee you’ll be able to travel, it might be worth it. You’re unlikely to be able to claim from your travel insurance if you can’t go on holiday due to government-imposed restrictions as most policies have excluded Covid-related disruption cover.
So where can you go on holiday right now, exactly?
Five more countries were added this week to the list of countries where you can go on holiday without having to quarantine when you come back to England from 28 July.
They are Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia, Slovenia and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The Foreign Office (FCO) has also lifted its advice against all but essential travel for a few more countries, including Cuba.
Confusingly, the lift of quarantine-exempt countries is different from the list of countries where from the FCO’s advice against all non-essential travel. For example, the FCO says it’s safe to travel to Cuba, but you’ll still have to quarantine when you come home. So if you want to go on holiday without self-isolating for 14-days when you get back, you need to find a destination that is on both lists.
And then you need to check that there aren’t any local travel restrictions, such as a mandatory quarantine, in the destination you choose. For instance, the FCO says it’s okay for Brits to go on holiday to Cyprus, but Cyprus won’t let you in, at least not until August 1. Confused? Join the club.
You can find the list of quarantine-exempt countries here. Oddly, Portugal, which has had far, far few cases than both Spain and the UK, has not been added. Hmmmm…
The list of destinations to where the FCO considers it’s safe to travel is here. Remember that if you travel to a destination not on this list, your travel insurance is unlikely to cover you.
You can check travel restrictions for every destination on the FCO website. Look under ‘Entry Requirements’. Sometimes the advice is confusing, I often have to read it multiple times to work out what it means. If in doubt, check with a travel agent but never assume that because an airline sells you a flight to a country or an online travel agent lets you book a room that you’ll be allowed into the country – it’s down to you to check.
Of course, it’s possible other countries could be added to the no-go list at short notice, so wherever you go, it’s a risk. Me, I’m off to Croatia…I hope.