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Travel between UK and Spain may not require 14 day quarantine for much longer

Date Published: 09/10/2020

Travel between UK and Spain may not require 14 day quarantine for much longer

UK taskforce to examine the possibility of introducing covid testing instead of quarantining

There’s no doubt that the tourism and travel sectors have been particularly badly hit by the covid crisis, and that uncertainty over the duration of the pandemic will continue to push businesses to the wire if the current level of infection continues into 2021.

Normally at this time of year those with free time are leaving the rainy shores of the UK and heading abroad for a little winter sun, Spain and its offshore islands a popular destination, particularly with the more mature, but the 14 day quarantine which must currently follow even the shortest of holidays is a huge deterrent.

Right along the Spanish costas thousands of hotels, bars and restaurants have taken the decision to close rather than try to struggle through the winter when there are virtually no tourists to be seen, airlines have given up trying to fill half-empty planes and have reduced their services to survival-level, changing destinations to improve the chance of selling more seats and forcing passengers to drive considerably longer distances in order to find a flight closer to their home/holiday apartment and many expat businesses have gone into hibernation for the winter rather than continue to pay staff wages throughout what will undoubtedly be a very quiet six month period.

And it’s not just hitting businesses working in holiday destinations in Spain and other countries; airlines, airports, the vast workforces which service the airline industry through catering, refuelling,transport, booking systems,travel agents, all those working in the tourism sector, tens of thousands of cabin crew and ground services, all face the prospect of unemployment in the UK if nothing changes in the immediate future.

But there is a chance that the UK government may modify its stance towards the hated 14-day quarantine and a taskforce has been set-up to consider alternative options, including, according to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, the possibility of introducing a Covid-19 testing system for those travelling to the UK, which could be used in conjunction with a shorter quarantine period.

Travellers would be obliged to pay for their own tests in order to avoid impacting NHS capacity, but it would be a solution for those who want to travel but are unable /unwilling to spend two weeks in quarantine afterwards.

It’s not clear at the moment how long passengers would have to quarantine but as an increasing number of countries reduce their own quarantine periods to seven or ten days, and increasing scientific evidence points to symptoms showing within a 7 day period in the very large majority of cases, it does indicate that there is room for manoeuvre within the current 14 day quarantine structure.

The travel and airlines sectors have been lobbying hard for the quarantine system to be replaced altogether by a testing system, as is starting to occur in other countries, saying this would save jobs and help the sector to survive through the pandemic.

When presenting the Global Travel Taskforce, Mr Shapps said: “The current measures at the border have saved lives. Our understanding of the science now means we can intensify efforts to develop options for a testing regime and help reinvigorate our world-leading travel sector.

“This new taskforce will not only help us move towards safer, smoother international travel as we continue to battle this virus but will also support global connectivity – helping facilitate more Covid-secure travel whilst protecting the population from imported cases.”

The group is expected to report back to Number 10 in November.

Let’s hope it’s a positive outcome as the end of the quarantine system can´t come soon enough for many businesses here in Spain and for those desperate for a spot of winter sun.