Updated 14 October: The EU has approved the new system to give travellers within Europe an overview of how the covid19 outbreak is evolving in different parts of the bloc, with a colour-coded traffic light system for risk. Those areas with fewer than 25 infections per 100,000 residents and a <4% test positivity will be coded green, for low risk; areas with a rate of 50/100,000 and a >4% positivity rate will be amber; and areas with over 50/100,000 and a >4% positivity rate, or where the incidence is of 150/100,000 in the previous fortnight, will be coded red for danger. The information will be recorded with weekly updates by the ECDC on its website HERE where travel requirements for the EU27 are already detailed. There is also a link on it to download the weekly update.
Please note that the new system replaces one in which each EU country set its own risk status, so this establishes a coordinated approach to information provision. Unfortunately, it is also simply a recommendation rather than a legal basis for regulation. EU27 countries aren’t obliged to take part in it, or even enforce the new system. They will, in other words, be able to introduce and maintain quarantine as individual countries … which is exactly what the UK is doing itself.
So, this new system does not set up a travel corridor between the UK and Spain. It could not because it is not intended for that purpose, and even where it is intended to apply, it cannot override an individual country’s freedom to choose to impose quarantine on entry. In this respect, the UK’s quarantine on those returning from Spain remains in place.
This story has gained arms and legs, and wound people up, and made them think the UK was imminently going to remove quarantine. It made some of them think, clearly, that the UK would have to remove quarantine. Neither is true. Neither ever was.
Updated 13 October: EU countries are scheduled to approve the traffic light system for travel today. This is a separate scheme from the purely Spanish one for tourist corridors to the Canary and Balearic islands. Nothing is yet in place with either one but the Spanish system needs to be agreed individually with the UK, of course. That agreement from the British side does not at present appear to be forthcoming but nonetheless Spain is trying to find some means of getting the UK to lift the quarantine requirement on those returning to Britain from here.
By contrast, the EU system is a means of avoiding borders being closed unilaterally by countries throughout the bloc with the rise of both cases and fears of another closure of the Schengen Area as happened back in March. The EU system would see a map published by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control that would be updated on a weekly basis and give EU areas, not individual countries, a status showing their covid data.
There are reasons why the scheme, even if approved today as expected, will not be welcomed in the UK. Some of them are political – the UK wants to be seen as having taken back control and not be subject to EU protocols – but others are genuine concerns about, for example, the harmonization of test and trace systems throughout the EU with individual countries doing different things because there’s no European Health Department. Other concerns relate to the potential disruption of local lockdowns, and so London’s concerns relate to the same problems, really, that the UK is already grappling with within the UK itself.
We will just have to wait to hear what word comes out of Number 10 in all these respects but for the moment, the only requirements for travellers into Spain are the completion of the passenger location form (HERE) and, for those returning to the UK from Spain, a fortnight’s quarantine. For the rules to follow when here, please see the top section in bold of THIS post.
Original post 12 October: From my mailbag, clearly I need to say that despite much reporting of whatever the EU and Spain have agreed, there is no travel corridor system in place for any visitors yet, let alone from the UK. There might be, and certainly this is a system proposed and effectively agreed throughout the EU and within Spain itself. Unfortunately, as yet, nothing is in place even among the EU27 let alone with the UK which is no longer in the EU and where cases are anyway soaring and which has introduced a new traffic light system of its own today for local lockdowns.
I know several media outlets including the Sun and the Independent in the UK have gone with this as though this is already in place. It is not, and even when it is, the UK will need to sign up to it as a non-EU country. This is all still to be confirmed and agreed within the EU possibly over this or next week, but there is an additional system agreed within Spain itself for tourist corridors to the islands. The system will allow negotiations with countries like the UK, but again, nothing with the UK is yet in place.