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.