Spain On Amber Plus?
- Víctormanuel Paz
The government is reportedly considering adding Spain to the ” amber plus” list for travel, which mandates self-isolation and extra testing, as cases surge. The new category was created hastily on 16 July as a bespoke solution for France, as ministers panicked about the rise in beta cases – otherwise known as the South African variant.
It has not been given the name “amber plus” officially, although this is essentially what it is. The new grade mandates that travellers returning from “amber plus” territories must self-isolate for 10 days and take two tests, regardless of whether they’ve been fully vaccinated or not.
From 19 July, Britons fully vaccinated by the NHS are exempt from quarantine on return from amber territories, and must instead take just one PCR test within two days of arrival. According to reports from the Guardian , ministers will discuss shunting mainland Spain, as well as its holiday islands, onto the amber plus list as infections rise.
The Balearics, which were downgraded from green to amber list at the latest traffic light reshuffle on 14 July, have seen soaring infections in recent weeks. Latest government Covid data shows that seven-day infection rates stand at 363 in 10,000 people.
A curfew has been introduced on the popular holiday islands to curb the spread. It comes as the UK is finalising plans to drop quarantine for fully vaccinated EU and US citizens, in order to open up inbound travel. An official announcement is expected later today.
Could Spain be put on the ‘amber PLUS’ list?
Quarantine-free travel to Spain could be impossible for most of the summer holidays following speculation the country may be placed on the ‘amber plus’ list next week.
What does the UK’s Amber PLUS list mean for travel?
Summer vacation plans of more than six million UK citizens could be ruined if the country’s government decides to move Greece and Spain to its amber plus list, an analysis by the Labour Party has shown. According to them, approximately 5,9 million UK holidaymakers may have to face quarantine measures if Greece and Spain are placed on this list.
Such a decision to move the two countries in the amber plus list has not been officially announced by the British authorities yet. Still, speculations have indicated that that is very likely to happen, SchengenVisaInfo.
com reports. The UK’s amber plus list currently includes only France among the EU countries. However, if the two countries are added to the list, this means that all Britons who decide to spend their summer holidays in Greece or Spain will have to stay self-isolated for ten days when they return back to the UK regardless of their vaccination status.
- In addition, they will also need to undergo PCR testing on the day of their arrival or two days before their arrival;
- A second test on the eighth day of the self-isolation period is required as well;
- Persons who have been fully vaccinated, meaning that they have taken two vaccine doses, can leave self-isolation earlier if they provide a negative COVID-19 test result carried on the fifth day of quarantine;
Nonetheless, they are still required to take the test on the eighth day as well. In response to the speculations, Labour’s Transport Secretary Jim McMahon has said that the authorities must properly inform the citizens of the country regarding any measures that are to be taken as imposing a ten-day quarantine requirement is not convenient for anyone who is already struggling financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The Tourism Minister of Greece, Harry Theoharis, has also made a call to the authorities of the United Kingdom, asking them not to move Greece to its amber plus category by claiming that Greece is a safe country for tourists;
“Greece is a safe country. The vaccination drive and programme continues unabated,” the Minister noted, saying that almost 60 per cent of the entire population has been vaccinated against the COVID-19. Based on World Health Organization (WHO) figures, the UK has identified 5,602,325 COVID-19 infection cases and has registered 128,980 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.
Will France move back to amber from Spain?
When is the next travel update? – Reviews of the UK’s traffic light travel restrictions take place every three weeks, with the last update from the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps coming on Wednesday 14 July. That announcement broke with what has become an established tradition of the changes being unveiled on Thursdays.
Will France be removed from the ‘amber PLUS’ list?
Holiday cover blow – Families who lose their holidays because one or more member is ‘pinged’ face losing their cash as well. Many travel insurance policies will not cover people who have to cancel after a notification to self-isolate from the NHS Test & Trace app.
Nine in 10 policies do pay out if the policyholder tests positive for Covid. But this falls to six in 10 when a trip is cancelled due to a ping, said analysts Defaqto. Amid fears of a hit to bookings, package holiday firm TUI is allowing people pinged to change their dates for free.
Anna-Marie Duthie, from Defaqto, said some insurers would be sympathetic, but added: ‘Policyholders should read their policies carefully to be sure they fully understand what cover they have, and if in doubt contact their insurers before changing any travel plans.
- ‘ Pressure to change Spain’s designation follows concern about the Beta variant, which emerged in South Africa and is thought to be more resistant to the AstraZeneca vaccine given to millions in the UK;
A Whitehall source said: ‘The situation in Spain is beginning to feel a lot like the build-up to the decision on France. ‘The Department of Health are getting very jumpy about the number of Beta cases in parts of the country. ‘We’re not talking about the main tourist hotspots, but that might not make any difference – it didn’t with France.
‘ The shock move to place France in its own category earlier this month wrecked thousands of families’ holidays as well as the plans of many expats hoping to see loved ones for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
Cases of the Delta variant have fallen sharply in France in recent weeks and ministers are confident it will be restored to the same status as other amber list countries, meaning fully vaccinated travellers will no longer have to quarantine when they return.
One source said: ‘France is going to happen. It should never have been left out in the first place – the Department of Health just panicked. But there could be no justification for keeping restrictions in place now.
‘ Any move to put Spain on the ‘amber plus’ list is likely to provoke a fierce row within Government. Although there is concern about the Beta variant, many experts believe it is being ‘crowded out’ by the more virulent Delta variant now spreading rapidly across Spain.
- Professor Lawrence Young, a virologist at the University of Warwick, told MailOnline: ‘I think that this whole travel situation is a mess with no consistent approach and lots of mixed messages;
- ‘By what criteria are these decisions about amber-plus countries being made? Spain has had higher levels of the beta variant for some time so placing it on the amber-plus list now feels a bit like shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted! ‘Much better to keep the before and after testing regime approach with proof of full vaccination;
‘ Defiant Brits heading from Heathrow’s Terminal 5 for Spain today vowed the changes ‘won’t stop us going on holiday’. Laura Morrison, a 44-year-old teacher from Richmond, south west London, who was taking her family to Lanzarote for two weeks, said: ‘It’s our first holiday of the year and it’s been really stressful, especially getting all the tests and stuff for my two daughters.
- ‘I know it’s risky taking a holiday, because if Spain gets put on the amber-plus list my husband would have to take a test to release for work;
- ‘But the children have been stuck inside for months and, although we’re not made of money, we all need to get away and relax;
‘The whole traffic light system is just confusing: they should just leave it as red, amber and green. ‘I think it’s really a money-maker for the Government. The tests should be free and people should not be penalised for going on holiday. ‘ Melissa Garcia, 27, a student from London, turned up at Heathrow to jet off on holiday with her firends, but wasn’t allowed to fly because she only had her second Covid jab last week.
- She said: ‘I’m studying in London and was suppose to fly to Madrid today for a holiday with my friends, but because I only got my second jab last week, I can’t go;
- ‘So British Airways booked me on a flight next week free of charge, but my friends won’t be there anymore;
‘If they put Spain on the amber-plus list then I’ll have to quarantine when I get back, but I would rather that than cancel my holiday. ‘They should make it a different colour because I think it would be easier to understand. ‘It’s really confusing having an amber-plus list.
- ‘ Arthur, 18, who recently finished school, said: ‘I’m visiting some family friends in Ibiza for about five days;
- ‘My travels are pretty much done after this trip, but I can understand why people are getting frustrated;
‘If Spain gets put on the amber plus list and I have to quarantine, I would be annoyed. ‘I wouldn’t want to waste two weeks of my summer, so I would look at just going somewhere else like France or Portugal. ‘ Another passenger, also travelling to Lanzarote from Heathrow Terminal 5, said: ‘It is what it is really.
- If you’ve decided to go away you’ve weighed up your risk already, so it doesn’t really matter if it’s amber or amber plus;
- ‘With all tests you have to pay for and paper work to fill out, I think most people will have weighed up the risks before travelling;
‘ Current amber and red list destinations. A review of the UK travel list is expected on Wednesday or Thursday next week The shock move to place France in its own category earlier this month wrecked thousands of families’ holidays. Pictured, a covid testing site by the Eiffel Tower in France Spain has seen a recent uptick in infections that could force the government to add it to the travel quarantine list Boris says scrapping self-isolation for the double-jabbed on August 16 is ‘nailed on’ but ministers warn the date WON’T be brought forward despite claims Covid is ‘all over bar the shouting’ Boris Johnson today insisted scrapping self-isolation rules for the double jabbed is ‘nailed on’ for August 16 as he hailed ‘encouraging’ data on infections.
The PM hailed the seven-day run of cases falling in the UK, but stressed it is ‘far too early to draw any general conclusions’ – despite Tory claims the pandemic is now ‘all over bar the shouting’. Pressed during an interview with LBC radio over the schedule for exempting vaccinated individuals who have been in contact with a positive case, Mr Johnson said: ‘August 16 is nailed on – there has never been any question of a review date for August 16.
‘ However, Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey dismissed calls from ‘pingdemic’-hit businesses for the timetable to be brought foward, saying there was ‘strong medical advice’ for delay. Daily virus cases are now barely half the level seen just a week ago after a dramatic series of falls.
One senior minister told the Mail that the vaccination programme, coupled with more than 5. 7million infections, meant the virus was struggling to find new hosts and herd immunity had effectively been reached.
Mr Johnson said this morning: ‘We have seen some encouraging recent data. There is no question about that. ‘But it is far, far too early to draw any general conclusions. ‘ SAGE adviser warns Covid ISN’T all over ‘quite yet’ and says seven days of falling cases could be down to people being unwilling to get tested ahead of their summer holidays Covid cases in the UK may only be dropping because people aren’t wanting to get tested before going on their summer holidays, one of the Government’s scientific advisers said today.
- Infections across the country have been dipping for seven days, reaching 23,5111 yesterday — barely half the level seen just a week ago;
- A senior minister last night claimed the coronavirus’s grip on the UK is ‘all over bar the shouting’;
But SAGE adviser Professor Mike Tildesley warned the pandemic isn’t all over ‘quite yet’, and warned the effects of ‘Freedom Day’ are still yet to be seen in the data. And Boris Johnson today said it was ‘too early’ to draw conclusions about the fall in the number of people testing positive for the virus.
Scientists say temporary factors like schools closing, last week’s hot weather and the end of the Euros effect could be behind the decline. Professor Tildesley (pictured), an infectious disease modeller at the University of Warwick, said the falls could also have occurred because people are less willing to get a test ahead of summer holidays Professor Tildesley, an infectious disease modeller at the University of Warwick, said the falls could also have occurred because people are less willing to get a test ahead of summer holidays.
Testing has fallen by 14 per cent in the last week, compared to cases which have dropped by 31 per cent in the same time. Asked about the decline, he told Times Radio: ‘Because schools in England closed last week, we haven’t got secondary school pupils doing regular lateral flow testing and so we’re not necessarily detecting as many cases in younger people.
- ‘It’s also been suggested by some that, possibly, because of a high number of cases, because of the summer holidays approaching, people might be less willing to ‘step up’ to testing when they have symptoms;
‘What we really need to do is monitor hospital admissions, because at the moment of course they’re still going up — now, of course there is a lag when cases go down, it always takes a couple of weeks before hospital admissions turn around. ‘But if we start to see hospital admissions going down as well then I think we would have much stronger evidence to suggest this third wave is starting to turn around.