British Government advises travellers always to check latest advice given potential for disruption as it removes Canaries from travel corridors again

Updated 3.30pm, 11/12: Yes I know that the FCDO still exempts the Canaries from the travel advice not to visit Spain BUT has also removed these islands from the UK’s air corridor list (see HERE). In addition to the DfT announcement in today’s earlier update, the FCDO says: “If you are returning to the UK from the Canary Islands on or after 4am on 12 December, you will need to self-isolate on your return”. Any inconsistency still troubling anyone should clearly be taken up with the UK Government, not me.

Updated 11 December: The DfT has confirmed Grant Shapps’ announcement yesterday that from tomorrow the Canary Islands will be removed from the UK’s air corridors list. As the UK Government says HERE:

Canary Islands removed from the list of travel corridors for the UK

People arriving in the UK from the Canary Islands from 4am Saturday 12 December 2020 will need to self-isolate for 2 weeks as the islands are removed from the travel exemptions list.

Ministers’ decision to remove the Canary Islands from the list of travel corridors has been based on a sharp increase in test positivity, currently at 7.1% for the Canaries collectively and 8.8% for the island of Tenerife.

The government has made consistently clear it will take decisive action if necessary to contain the virus, including removing countries from the travel corridors list rapidly if the public health risk of people returning from a particular country without self-isolating becomes too high.

From 15 December, passengers arriving into England from countries not featured on the government’s travel corridor list – including the Canary Islands – will have the option to take a test from a private provider after 5 days of self-isolation, with a negative test result releasing them from the need to self-isolate.

A range of factors are taken into account when deciding to remove a country from the travel corridor list, including the continued increase of coronavirus (COVID-19) within a country, the numbers of new cases, imported cases, information on a country’s testing capacity, testing regime and test positivity rate. …

People currently in the Canary Islands are encouraged to follow the local rules and check FCDO travel advice for further information. The government is urging employers to be understanding of those returning from these destinations who now will need to self-isolate.

COVID-19 has profoundly changed the nature of international travel. Travellers should always check the latest advice, given the potential for changing coronavirus infection rates to affect both the advice about travelling to other countries and rules about self-isolation on return.

All travellers, including those from exempt destinations, will still be required to show a complete passenger locator form on arrival into the UK unless they fall into a small group of exemptions.

Penalties for those breaching the self-isolation rules when returning from non-exempt countries are £1,000 for first offences, rising to up to £10,000 for subsequent offences, mirroring penalties for those breaching self-isolation following a positive COVID test or contact from Test and Trace.

Updated 10 December: The UK Government has again removed the Canaries from its air corridor list. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the move is because data indicate that weekly cases and positive tests are increasing. Shapps confirmed that from 4am this Saturday, 12 December, anyone arriving in the UK from these islands will need to self-isolate. As I understand it, the period of quarantine is still a fortnight.

And so we’re back to the former situation where insurance policies held by any travellers who come here against official British Government advice will almost certainly be invalidated, and the Canarian Government’s underwritten AXA policy will definitely not be valid. Given the jubilation in the tourism sector over the Canarian Government’s antigen decree, published only yesterday (see HERE), and Spain’s own relaxation of its PCR requirement last night (see HERE) this will no doubt come as a body blow to the tourism industry in the Canaries.

It will also be “utterly devastating news for the thousands of British travellers who booked to go to the Canaries for Christmas and New Year” says Paul Charles, CEO of travel consultancy The PC Agency, as well as for travel firms. Charles said that this now “means thousands of refunds and lost bookings for a sector that needed the Canaries to help them recover”. No doubt the Canarian tourism authorities will be thinking exactly the same in reverse

Updated 22 October: British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced that the advice not to travel to the Canaries will be changed from 4am this Sunday 25 October. Following an assessment of the latest data, the islands have been added to the Travel Corridors list, and visitors will not only be able to get insurance because they won’t be coming against UK Government advice, they also will no longer have to quarantine on arrival back in the UK.

Updated 21 August: It’s a month since the UK Government took the Canaries out of its travel corridors list and included the islands in its general exclusion of Spain as a whole. Many thought it would be a simple and rapid matter of getting the UK to change its mind, many thought it would take just days. Here we are a month later and nothing has changed, indeed Grant Shapps only this morning said that the Government had absolutely no intention of implementing a more regionalized approach to quarantine.

Shapps was responding to calls for the Government to ease its restrictions so that anyone travelling from a low-affected area of a country otherwise badly hit by covid19 would not be affected. Shapps said, however, that such regionalization is too difficult because the virus is very unpredictable and can just take off elsewhere where the UK doesn’t have control. The Transport Secretary said that he believed everyone knew that that there are risks involved in travelling anywhere this year.

Much opprobium was heaped on the heads of those who thought that optimism and positive thought was not going to be enough to change what clearly looked like a set British policy. Sadly, realism trumped ‘belief’, and Shapps has now confirmed that Spain, all parts of the country, is not likely to be included in the government’s travel corridor list again in the near future.  

Updated 28 July: Well, the UK Government was asked to be clear and consistent, and its response did at least comply with that. Sadly, however, instead of relieving Canarian visitors from the requirement to quarantine on return to the UK because we were deemed a safe destination – which we are – the reaction has been instead to include the Canaries in the advice not to visit unless essential. At least now those returning from anywhere in Spain have consistency, however unmerited: quarantine for all.

The UK’s move has been met with disbelief and fury given the low incidence of covid cases in the Canaries. Tenerife President Pedro Martín has said that he hopes the British Government will reconsider, but the noises from London don’t suggest that this is likely, at least not in the immediate future. As I hinted in Clio’s and my CanaryCast on Monday, the optimistic mood among Canarian negotiators, fully justifiable and logical, was not matched by noises from London which suggested to me that the UK was not going to budge, and if there was any move, it could actually be in the opposite direction to that desired by Spain and, especially, the Canaries. And so it transpired.

President Torres himself says that he views the move as completely illogical, and stresses that the Canarian authorities are continuing to try everything diplomatically possible to get an intransigent UK to reconsider making an exception for these islands, both in terms of official advice that we are a safe destination and, as a natural corollary, that quarantine is not required for those returning home from this archipelago.

Some, however, are seeing the UK’s move not so much as science-based or medically necessary, but politically-grounded, whether to distract from the UK’s own record on covid and the Government’s response, or from the floundering Brexit negotiations and the need to show the UK’s clout to the EU. Political or not, grounded is certainly the right word at present with TUI and other airlines cancelling flights leaving holidaymakers in the lurch, and the Canarian tourism industry, a sector that was already on its knees and now feeling that it’s been slapped in the face and kicked while down, in despair.

Updated 2pm, 26/7: TUI has confirmed that flights for the Canaries will resume tomorrow. Whatever happens on other routes, Canarian cancellations were only for today, and will operate normally from tomorrow.

Updated 26 July: Canarian President Ángel Torres has welcomed the fact that the Canaries have not been included in the UK’s travel advice not to visit Spain unless the visit is essential. The measure only applies to the Spanish mainland, and so not the Canaries or the Balearic Islands. Torres said that the Canarian Government was working with the UK on a secure air corridor. Separately, the UK Government has imposed a fortnight’s quarantine on everyone returning from all of Spain, including the islands.

Original post 25 July: The British Government has announced that holidaymakers returning from Spain will have to quarantine for a fortnight when they get home, to all parts of the UK. What is now being called a second wave of covid19 in Spain has resulted in Spain being removed from the UK’s safe country list. Those with travel insurance are advised to check whether their policies are still valid: the FCO is now advising against all but essential travel to Spain, and this does not include the Canaries but insurance policies might not provide cover for holidays to any part of Spain. The quarantine requirement, however, applies to travellers returning from any part of Spain, including the Canaries.

edit: major disbelief, probably grounded in wishing it not to be true, has called this into question. It is, however, true. Please see HERE where it is now confirmed. The fact is that some journalists including myself had this confirmed before it was formally announced otherwise I would not have posted it. From the UK Government:

FCO is advising against all but essential travel to mainland Spain – this does not cover the Canary Islands or the Balearic Islands because travel advice is based on the risk to the individual traveller and COVID-19 infection rates are lower there than mainland Spain.

People will still need to self-isolate when returning from anywhere in Spain as well as the Canary and Balearic Islands because self-isolation arrangements are put in place on the basis of risk to the UK as a whole.


  1. Janet

    I know the press are saying UK citizens must isolate on return from the Canaries but I think it is important to point out that this only applies to England. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland make their own rules. Indeed Northern Ireland comes out of lock down this morning and restrictions will be further eased for 5 days from the 23 December.

    1. Author

      No, sorry Billy, this is from the UK Government as I quoted explicitly. They say UK, not England. This is not about lockdowns, but air corridors, and applies to the whole UK. The only thing that is specific to England is this bit, which is part of the Government’s quote that I gave:

      From 15 December, passengers arriving into England from countries not featured on the government’s travel corridor list – including the Canary Islands – will have the option to take a test from a private provider after 5 days of self-isolation, with a negative test result releasing them from the need to self-isolate.

  2. Reference Nat’s dilemma, it would appear he may be able to leave self quarantine in the U.K. to see his Father. One of the exceptions detailed on the website says:

    “you’re leaving your accommodation on compassionate grounds, such as:
    going to the funeral of a close family member or someone you live with

    visiting a dying or critically ill family member or someone you live with”

    However, coming back to Tenerife in the quarantine period remains a problem.

  3. I was due to fly to the UK for 4 days to see my terminally ill father, will they let me? Will I be able to come home if it is less than 14 days? I don’t know who, officially, can advise me now

    1. Author

      They will allow you, but you will have to quarantine on arrival, I’m afraid. I don’t see how that means you’re able to see your father. I am very sorry to say this, I really am. As to coming back to Tenerife, yes there will be no problem BUT you’ll need an antigen/PCR/TMA test to enter the country as all internationals do.

      I really understand your situation because I’ve been in similar myself. I am so very sorry.

  4. Not sure whether this will help the holiday industry Janet ?

    Travellers coming to the UK from locations not on the travel corridor list will only need to self-isolate for five days if they test negative for coronavirus, the Transport Secretary has announced.

    In a boost for tourists and business travellers, Grant Shapps today unveiled the new ‘Test to Release’ service, which will come into effect on December 15.

    1. Author

      no help at all, Nigel! I’ll check the 5 days/fortnight thing … govuk is saying 2 weeks but I’ll double check.

  5. Nigel, what’s really happened is that the UK has finally realised that ,although the islands are Spanish, we are actually hundreds of kilometres away from Spain and so entitled to be looked at separately. About time, too. Let’s hope that Pres. Sanchez accepts the case made by the Canaries for us to be considered a special case and not locked down if the rest of the mainland is.

  6. One day Spain are looking at a total lockdown and the next day the uk have removed the canaries from the quarantine list on Sunday. 24 hours is long time with the current situation that flip flops every day just like the current Brexit situation. It’s anybody’s guess at the moment.

  7. The Finns seem to have the solution. They have trained dogs to be able smell covid on people at airports. They can detect it 5 days before symptoms and the test only takes minutes to give a result. Much more sensitive than PCR.

    25 years ago I used to live nextdoor to somebody who worked on electronic noses. I wonder if that have come on enough to compete with dogs yet.

  8. Agree Janet. Speculation achieves nothing in these extraordinary times. However, given how close we are to the winter season, and the seemingly unstoppable escalating covid rates seen across Europe, I doubt if we shall see any significant uptake in visitor numbers this year.

  9. Tenerife figures are not low compared to the UK travel threshold or the UK average. It is measured in cases per 7 days per 100,000. People forget to multiply daily figures by seven when comparing.

    441 cases in Tenerife in the last 7 days with a population around 1M, so about 44.

  10. No change in UK government advice on travel to Canaries/Tenerife yesterday
    At a loss to understand why the UK government is ignoring data provided from Tenerife government about low cases of Covid here when they treated Greek islands as separate cases 2 weeks ago!- madness!
    We have been here for 2 weeks and another to go and we feel safer here than in the UK
    Just so sad to see deserted hotels and areas around with so many friends suffering financially

    1. Author

      As I have said repeatedly, there is NO indication of change in the UK with regard to travel advice to the Canaries. I know people like to be “positive” and hate “negativity” (for which, read “reality”) but the fact is that trying to talk this up is achieving nothing but frustration and anger, when the situation is clear and we simply have to wait for further information or confirmation of changes rather than speculating all the time!

  11. Jet2 now say on their website that they expect to fly to the Canary Islands from 18th October 2020

  12. UK policy will be dictated by the needs of securing the safest environment for UK citizens living and working in the UK. I very much doubt UK Ministers will make any exceptions in order to support tourism outside of the UK no mater how much the likes of Spain may plead with them.

  13. The last update on was on 11/9/20. They stated that, subject to change, they expect to fly to the Canary Islands from 27/9/20. Each 2 weeks recently they have updated their Website with a new ‘expected’ date for flights to the Canary Islands. As the figures out here have not improved in recent weeks, I fully expect to see them update their website later this week to say they expect to start flying to the Canary Islands from October, again subject to change. If this happens, you will probably find out just a few days before you are due to travel.

  14. Can you see a change in government policy with people returning from Tenerife, we intend to travel 27/9 with jet2 it . Is jet2 policy not to fly to any country That would mean passengers having to self isolate on return to the uk. ? When do you think jet2 will notify passengers of cancellations to Tenerife

    1. Author

      Assuming you mean the UK Government, I think it’s best to wait for the PM’s statements tomorrow following the briefings today by CMO Whitty and CSA Vallance. That might clarify policy, but in terms of quarantine, I have seen no indications that they are considering a change. As to Jet2, you will need to enquire with the airline direct, I’m afraid.

  15. I am personally tired of reading Theresa’ politically motivated rants. Her contributions are spoiling an otherwise wonderful source of information about Tenerife.

    1. Author

      I’ll close this to comments for a while … at least until there’s some new confirmed information. For the moment, some want that to change quickly, some don’t want it to change at all, some think Spain should have put the UK on its own don’t travel list, and others think Spain opened its own borders too quickly … whatever the viewpoint, the reality is that Spain is on the UK’s don’t travel list, and anyone going to the UK from Spain must quarantine for a fortnight.

  16. I don’t think the UK is any more of a mess than any other Country in the World at the moment. Using words such as ‘dictator’ are not helpful – regardless of political persuasion.
    Marie is Absolutely correct in her analysis. Every Government in every Country is being criticised by their media and citizens and every positive seems to be turned into a negative. They are damned if they do and damned if they don’t!

  17. Marie – Boris hasn’t the ability to look after anyone or anything, he has to ask Dominic for permission to do anything. The UK is in a such a mess, even worse than the days of Dictator Thatcher. Never thought I would see it in such deep, deep do-do ever again. I’m glad I’m out of it now.

  18. As a Tenerife visitor for 30 years I am devastated at whats happening to the tourist industry there. I am, however, quite amazed at the hostility given to the decision to quarantine visitors once back home. Boris Johnson’s job is to look after British Citizens, the abuse he is receiving for doing that is ridiculous. No, you may not like the decision but it is the responsibility of the Spanish government to keep Spain safe. I can only assume the Canaries & Balearics are included in quarantine rule because Spain is still allowing domestic flights into theses areas, therefore carrying the risk of transmission also. Also to suggest his motive could be for other reasons is odd, he has enough on his plate without playing games.

  19. Since there is free travel between mainland Spain and its islands people could have avoided quarantine returning from Aragon by simply going via the Balearics or the Canaries. So that loophole is closed.

    Also on the day the decision was made the 7 day average graph of cases in the Canaries looked exactly the same shape as the mainland, mainly due the pateras. It has flattened off a bit since but they couldn’t have happened at a worse time and probably should have been reported separately.

    The initial tidal wave of infections in the UK was due to thousands of infected tourists returning from Spain and Italy and the government got criticism for letting them in without quarantine, so they can’t win.

    In the UK there are plenty of scared people glad that tourists can’t import the infection, who have no intention of foreign travel themselves and resent younger people who want to.

    I did think that as soon as tourists arrived in Spain they would bring it with them and Spain would close its borders again, didn’t guess it would be the other way around.

    Any border will have a different infection rate each side and people on the low side don’t want to let people from the high side in. Scotland want to stop the English, etc.

    I have no idea how this is going to end. I fear society will fracture along age / health lines.

  20. I have to also say that many people who commented on this site (mostly ex uk pats and obviously not business owners ) seem to be very anti British by saying that they did not want visitors bringing new cases to the island so now they have got their wish as most package holidays and flights have been cancelled and UK tourists are flying to other destinations.

  21. I would like to say that I’m amazed at the ‘decisive action’ of Buffoon Boris (or his puppeteer – Dominic Cummings, he of the 60 mile drive to test his eyesight!) but I can’t – I’m not a liar. For weeks no action now this shambolic act. Sorry to every business in the islands involved in tourism BUT think of the Battle of Santa Cruz in whatever year, had Nelson won that you would have been given independence years ago! Not that that helps the bars, restaurants etc. who have to struggle with another spell of very few tourists. I doubt if Boris or ‘his mate’ even knows where the Canaries are, all they hear is Spain, do they realise we’re best part of 1000 kms from Spain I wonder, and that Barcelona is much closer to UK than us down here? I doubt it.

  22. Hello Janet,
    Can you please clarify a point regarding the different interpretations I am reading about UK visitors to Spain now on returning to the UK have to isolate for two weeks. As the Canary Islands seem to have a good record on the stability of their figures are they also included or not in this latest new ruling as those returning from Spain as here in the UK, our government and local government are now working on the post code approach regarding reintroducing lockdown rules. Thank you.

    1. Author

      I’ve moved your question to a post on this very subject which you might not have seen. Yes people returning from all parts of Spain including the Canaries have to quarantine on arrival back in the UK. It is absolutely crystal clear in the quote above from the UK Government. I simply do not know how to make it clearer.

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