With talk of the ‘new new normal’ and summer holidays back on the lips of many Brits, there’s good news for those Britons that are hoping to head to Spain for a holiday this summer. New plans have been released in which vaccinated British tourists may be ‘fast tracked’ for breaks in Spain. Here we explore what that means for tourism in the country, and for British tourists who are desperate to get away!
Covid-Safe Travel Options?
Whilst travel to Spain isn’t currently possible, according to an announcement made by Spain’s Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez, the nation are working in conjunction with several other countries to implement what is being referred to as ‘some sort of fast’track’ in order to allow people to travel to the country provided they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
One of the countries involved in these discussions in the UK: Matt Hancock, the UK government’s Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, has revealed that the UK has discussed the possibility of a vaccination certification scheme with his counterparts in Spain. Spain is just one of a series of counties that are considering only allowing entry to vaccinated visitors from the UK.
The main requirement of this ‘fast track’ scheme is that Brits would have to carry some kind of proof that they had been vaccinated before they would be allowed to enter the country. It is not yet clear whether visitors would also have to undergo COVID-19 testing in order to enter Spain, or to re-enter the UK.
In a statement to the BBC, Ms Gonzalez revealed: “What we have in mind is that obviously, people with vaccine certificates are in the lower-risk versus other people who may be on the higher risk and would have to go through the ordinary procedures of PCR tests and the rest...But of course there could be some sort of fast-track for people who have gotten their vaccine and can prove it with vaccine certification, where mobility would be easier because they would be in the lower-risk category...This is the scheme that Spain, together with a group of other countries are working on".
Travel Between Spain and Israel
There should be a precedent set for this kind of agreement between the UK and Spain, as Spain is already introducing this kind of scheme for passengers arriving from Israel. The Israeli government will issue its vaccinated citizens with a ‘Green Pass’ to provide their proof of vaccination, and the country has signed a deal with Greece that will allow them to travel to the country, and spend holidays there, with this pass. The eyes of the world will be on the two countries to see how successful this scheme is, and how it could be more widely reciprocated across other popular countries that rely on tourism, across the globe.
What Does This Mean For Travel Between Spain and the UK?
Like so many things with covid-19, this news leads to many more questions than it answers. At this stage we are still unclear about how being able to enter Spain without quarantine or testing would impact on the UK’s quarantine rules: would you have to quarantine or test on your return? The answer is, no one knows.
Matt Hancock did give some small indication of how he thought the scheme might work when he said to Sky News that: “We want Brits to be able to travel to those countries and therefore enable Brits to be able to demonstrate their vaccine status, so that sort of vaccine certification is something we talking to our international counterparts about and there are people who are arguing that is the right way to have safe global travel again because that’s very restricted at the moment”.
This is a view that was shared on the same programme by Dr David Nabarro, the World Health Organisation’s special envoy for the global Covid-19 response. He stated that "I am absolutely certain in the next few months we will get a lot of movement...so some sort of vaccine certificate no doubt will be important".
What is good news is that the vaccination programme in the UK continues to move at incredible speed. The vaccine has now been administered to 16.5 million Britons, and the speed of the rollout shows no sign of abating. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has hailed this an ‘extraordinary feat’ and it is sure to give hope to the many millions of British tourists keen to get away on holiday this summer.
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