Spain eases ban on arrivals from Britain

Belén Carreño and Clara-Laeila Laudette
·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Barcelona

By Belén Carreño and Clara-Laeila Laudette

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain said on Tuesday it was easing a ban on travel from Britain, three months after suspending flights for all but Spanish nationals and residents over concerns about a more contagious variant of the coronavirus first detected in the UK.

Armed with negative PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test results, British travellers will be allowed in Spain from March 30, the Health Ministry said - but only for imperative health, work or education reasons.

The remaining restrictions mean Spain does not expect an immediate revival of tourism from Britain, hindered in any case by the United Kingdom's own ban on all foreign travel except for work, education or health reasons.

Since the end of December, Spain has allowed only Spaniards, Spanish residents and nationals or residents of Andorra to fly from Britain to Spain. There are similar restrictions on travel from South Africa and Brazil.

Government spokeswoman Maria Jesus Montero told a news conference that, while restrictions on flights from South Africa and Brazil would be extended again because of concerns over COVID-19 variants there, they would be lifted for Britain.

The British variant of COVID-19 is now widespread in Spain and therefore importing it is no longer a pressing epidemiological concern, a government source said, adding that the South African and Brazilian variants were more of a worry.

And, regarding potential UK visitors, the source pointed to the restrictions still in place and said: "We don't expect them to come en masse."

A few airlines, including Iberia and Air Europa, had maintained limited direct flights between Britain and Spain.

Britain is to review its own rules in April and could possibly allow foreign travel from May 17, which would be another step towards resuming holiday travelling to Spain.

(Reporting by Belen Carreno, Clara-Laeila Laudette, Inti Landauro, Nathan Allen; Writing by Ingrid Melander, editing by Andrei Khalip and Nick Macfie)