Here's how long the 'new' Spain quarantine rules could last - and when they'll be reviewed

(Photo: PAU BARRENA/AFP via Getty Images)(Photo: PAU BARRENA/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo: PAU BARRENA/AFP via Getty Images)

This week, Spain was reintroduced to the UK Government’s so-called ‘red list’, meaning travellers returning to Britain from the country will once again have to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.

One of the most popular holiday destinations among British tourists, Spain had been included on the travel corridors list since the roster of countries was first made public early in July.

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But a spike in the number of coronavirus infections in recent weeks, and the reimposition of lockdown measures on citizens has led to a fear of a 'second wave'.

In response, the UK Government removed the country from its exemptions list of 26 July.

Health minister Helen Whately told the BBC the bringing back of the quarantine rules was the "right thing to do" as the UK's virus rate must be kept "right down" to avoid a second spike.

She urged anyone considering booking a holiday to "be mindful that we are still in the situation of a global pandemic".

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But when can we expect the new quarantine measures to be lifted?

Here’s everything you need to know:

Why was Spain re-added to the list?

Despite things generally appearing to move in the right direction for Spain, a number of local lockdowns have been reintroduced, with spikes in the number of new virus cases triggering fears of a second wave. (link to Rhona’s piece on second wave)

Recent reports of substantial increases in cases of Covid-19 in the regions of Aragon and Catalonia (which include the cities of Zaragoza and Barcelona) are of particular concern to hopeful tourists.

Spain’s Ministry of Health has provided a map with information on local outbreaks. Link to this?

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One of those outbreaks has affected parts of Catalonia, including parts of the Barcelona metropolitan area, and the areas of La Noguera and El Segria.

There, local authorities have asked residents only to leave their accommodation for essential activities, and meetings of more than 10 people in public or private spaces are now prohibited.

Authorities have also ordered the closures of nightclubs, gyms, and restrictions to the capacity and opening hours of bars and restaurants. 

These measures will be in place until at least 1 August.

How long is the quarantine period?

The length you will have to self-isolate on return from Spain is, like any other places, 14 days.

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However, that length of time could be cut from two weeks to 10 days after widespread outrage at the sudden reintroduction of the new travel rules.

According to The Daily Telegraph, ministers are discussing plans to cut the quarantine period to 10 days, a plan that would involve testing arrivals eight days after they land.

If they test negative they will be allowed to come out of self-isolation two days later, reducing the mandatory quarantine period by four days.

When will the quarantine rules be reviewed?

Initially, the UK reviewed the nations included on the 'safe' list every three weeks, but now a rolling review system could see countries removed from the list at short notice.

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“We have to keep the situation under review and I think that is what the public would expect us to do,” junior health minister Helen Whately told Sky News on Monday (27 July).

“If we see rates going up in a country where at the moment there is no need to quarantine, if we see the rates going up, we would have to take action because we cannot take the risk of coronavirus being spread again across the UK,” she added.

So it sounds like there is no set date for an ‘official’ review of the quarantine rules, though the government is likely to stick to their three-week approach if no review happens sooner.

That would suggest a review no later than 16 August.

According to Whately, Britain is closely monitoring the coronavirus situation in Germany and France, and continuously reviewing the situation in popular holiday destinations.

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Other countries currently exempt from the UK's quarantine rules, which are seeing rises in the number of cases on a par with France and Germany, include Japan and Turkey.

That's according to the three-day rolling average number of confirmed new cases in those countries, although it has not been confirmed whether these countries are also being considered for reinstatement on the red list.