Spain travel advice: Is it safe to visit, and what should I do if my flight has been cancelled?

·7 min read
An empty restaurant in Spain this week - AFP
An empty restaurant in Spain this week - AFP

As the British government adds Spain to its travel quarantine list, tens of thousands of British tourists in Spain have had their holidays thrown into disarray. Here we look into the latest advice, and how the announcement could affect your travels.

As of midnight Saturday 25 July the UK Government imposed an immediate two-week quarantine for anyone returning home from Spain following new outbreaks of coronavirus.

Spanish health officials have warned of a potential second wave of infections, and holiday firms have already begun urgently cancelling trips to the country.

Ministers are drawing up plans to offer Covid-19 tests to those who have returned from Spain in recent days.

The holiday operator TUI has already announced it will cancel all planned holidays to Spain in response to the announcement.

It will offer refunds to all those whose trips are being cancelled.

Is it safe to visit Spain? Foreign Office advice

The FCO updated its advice on Saturday 25 July. It reads:

From 26 July, the FCO advises against all non-essential travel to mainland Spain based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risks. Only the Canary Islands (Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro and La Graciosa) and Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera) are exempt from the FCO advice against all non-essential international travel.

This advice is based on evidence of increases in cases of COVID-19 in several regions, but particularly in Aragon, Navarra and Catalonia (which include the cities of Zaragoza, Pamplona and Barcelona).

The FCO is not advising those already travelling in Spain to leave at this time. Travellers should follow the advice of the local authorities on how best to protect themselves and others, including any measures that they bring in to control the virus. If you are returning from Spain (including from the Balearics and Canaries) on or after 26 July you will be required to quarantine on your return to the UK, but the FCO is not advising you to cut short your visit. You should contact your tour operator or airline if you have any questions about your return journey.

PHE are continuing to monitor the situation in the Balearic and Canary Islands closely. Travellers there should continue to check this advice regularly.

For more information from the Spanish authorities, see the Spanish Ministry of Health website.

Have airlines cancelled their flights?

Jet2 has suspended all of its flights to Spain, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands. On Saturday some flights operated by the airline were forced to turn around mid-air en route to the country.

A statement released by Jet2 read: "In response to local measures introduced throughout Spain to prevent the spread of Covid-19, including the closure of bars, restaurants, shops and activities including any water sports, we have taken the decision to suspend flights for at least the next seven days to Mainland Spain, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands with immediate effect.

“We know these local measures will have a significant impact on our customers’ holidays, which is why we have taken this decision. We are contacting our customers who are currently in these destinations, and who are due to travel, to advise them of their options, so we urge customers not to call us."

Tui, meanwhile, said: "Following local measures put in place by the Spanish Authorities, including closing some hotel facilities and the local bars, restaurants and beaches we have made the difficult decision to cancel holidays due to travel between 14 and 16 March."

Easyjet has cancelled all flights to Spain until March 29, with services continuing to run until March 16 to allow customers to return. Ryanair said it had cancelled a number of flights up to March 19. British Airways is yet to announce changes to its schedule.

Wizz Air has said its flights to the city of Castellón and the island of Tenerife are operating as normal. A spokesperson for Spain’s AENA airport authority said to always check with your flight provider before travelling.

You can also see our guide to which airlines have cancelled flights around the world.

Airlines have cancelled hundreds of flights to Spain
Airlines have cancelled hundreds of flights to Spain

What local restrictions are being put in place in Spain?

Marbella has announced that it has signalled the closure of its beaches by hoisting the red “danger” flag, following recommendations by Andalusia’s government to shut down all tourism and leisure activities in the region.

While there are still no legal restrictions on the movement of people, all bars, restaurants and businesses normally open to the public should refrain from opening, the Seville-based Andalusia government said on Friday.

In some other holiday areas along Spain’s Mediterranean coast, beaches have also been declared closed. The region of Murcia has ordered the closure of all businesses except for those selling food and basic necessities, as well as a “confinement” order affecting its coastal towns.

The Balearic Islands government has also ordered bars, restaurants and other leisure businesses to shut, as have the regions of Asturias and Cantabria in northern Spain.

Do I need to self-quarantine if I visit Spain?

Britons who have travelled to Spain in the last 14 days have been instructed to self-isolate in the UK if they are showing flu-like symptoms.

Barcelona's Sagrada Familia
Barcelona's Sagrada Familia

What do I do if I get stuck in a lockdown situation?

The FCO states: “If the local authority where you are, proposes to quarantine you for your own protection, you should follow their advice. When you are abroad, your safety and security is their responsibility.

“If there are suspected cases of coronavirus where you are, you may need to remain in your hotel room or accommodation for 14 days, move to quarantine facilities, take tests for coronavirus and, if positive in some cases, be hospitalised abroad.

“You should also contact your airline or travel company, and your insurance provider as soon as you can. We only organise assisted departure in exceptional circumstances.”

Its advice also states: "If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours)."

Would I get money back if I cancelled my trip to Spain?

As the Foreign Office has changed its travel advice for Spain to "avoid all but essential travel", those booked with a tour operator will be eligible for a refund, or your tour operator will organise alternative travel arrangements where possible. If your airline cancels your flight, you will be able to claim a full refund or arrange a rebooking.

For those who have booked their holiday independently, contact your accommodation provider and check the terms and conditions of your bookings and insurance policy.

If you want to cancel a package holiday to an area that does not have a Foreign Office warning in place, then you will not be eligible for a refund. If you have booked independently and the region is still considered safe by the FCO, you are unlikely to be able to cancel your change trip without losing money. Your best course of action would be to contact your hotel, tour operator or airline to ask if you can change your plans.

Is my insurance valid if I travel to Spain?

Your travel insurance will be valid so long as the Foreign Office has not issued a warning before you travel. If the FCO issues a warning while you are in an affected region, you will be covered as normal so long as you follow the latest FCO advice for British nationals. Some insurance policies will provide support if, when you are abroad, you are prevented from travelling home due to travel restrictions caused by coronavirus. Always double check your policy, and check Foreign Office warnings, before you travel.

Still wondering if you should go ahead with your holiday, or cancel? See our ten-point travel advice check list.