As Spain goes into lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus, holidaymakers are starting to wonder what this means for their upcoming trips. Here we look into the latest advice, and how the outbreak could affect your travels
The Spanish government is to put the whole country under lockdown as part of its state of emergency measures meant to combat the coronavirus, media publications including El Mundo and Cadena Ser have reported.
The government, which yesterday declared a state of emergency, is expected to say that all Spaniards must stay home except to buy food or drugs, go to the hospital, go to work or other emergencies.
In the meantime, the UK Foreign Office has advised against all but essential travel to several parts of the country, Jet2 has cancelled all flights there with immediate effect, and Tui has suspended all holidays to Spain.
Spain is currently the second-worst hit country in Europe, with 5,753 Covid-19 cases reported on Saturday; up from 4,209 on Friday, representing a 24-hour increase of 37 per cent. Further measures are expected to be announced which will likely affect travel, but as of now (Saturday March 14)…
Is it safe to visit Spain? Foreign Office advice
The FCO updated its advice on Friday March 13. It reads:
“The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advise against all but essential travel to the following regions that the Spanish Ministry of Health have designated as areas of community transmission of coronavirus: Madrid and La Rioja, and the municipalities of La Bastida and Vitoria (both in the Basque Country) and Miranda de Ebro (in Castilla y León).
“The Spanish government has suspended all incoming flights from Italy until March 25. The Spanish government has also asked people to avoid unnecessary travel and to consider remote working where possible.
“Authorities in the most affected regions (Madrid, the Basque Country, La Rioja, Catalonia, and Castilla y León) are putting in place extraordinary measures such as the temporary closure of schools, public sports centres, theatres and day care centres for the elderly due to an increase in coronavirus cases.
“The affected regions are prohibiting gatherings which involve more than 1,000 attendees. All educational centres, including nurseries, schools and universities will close for 15 days or until further notice. In other regions, individual schools are being closed where there are suspected cases of the virus.
“National museums in Madrid (Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía and the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza) are closed until further notice. Some local festivals such as Las Fallas in Valencia and sporting events have been postponed. You should follow local authority websites for further information.”
Madrid continues to account for half of all cases in Spain with 2,940. The Mayor of Seville has also announced that Easter processions will be suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak.
For more information from the Spanish authorities, see the Spanish Ministry of Health website.
Why has Jet2 cancelled flights to Spain?
A spokesperson for Jet2 said today (March 14) that the company was “acting off the back of Spanish authorities”, some of which have taken measures to close bars, restaurants and even beaches.
Its official statement reads:
“In response to local measures introduced throughout Spain to prevent the spread of Covid-19, including the closure of bars, restaurants, shops and activities including any water sports, we have taken the decision to suspend flights for at least the next seven days to Mainland Spain, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands with immediate effect.
“We know these local measures will have a significant impact on our customers’ holidays, which is why we have taken this decision. We are contacting our customers who are currently in these destinations, and who are due to travel, to advise them of their options, so we urge customers not to call us.
“This is a fast-moving and complex situation and we are reviewing our programme as a matter of urgency, so that we can fly customers back to the UK.”
Tui, meanwhile, has said: “Following local measures put in place by the Spanish Authorities, including closing some hotel facilities and the local bars, restaurants and beaches we have made the difficult decision to cancel holidays due to travel between 14 and 16 March.
“Although there is currently no advice from the UK Government against travelling to Spain it would not be the holiday experience we would want for our customers.”
What about other airlines?
A spokesperson for Spain’s AENA airport authority said that currently no facilities had been closed and no restrictions on inward flights were in place that would affect flights from the UK. This may well change; always check with your flight provider before travelling.
You can also see our guide to which airlines have cancelled flights around the world.
What local restrictions are being put in place in Spain?
Marbella has announced that it has signalled the closure of its beaches by hoisting the red “danger” flag, following recommendations by Andalusia’s government to shut down all tourism and leisure activities in the region, James Badcock reports.
While there are still no legal restrictions on the movement of people, all bars, restaurants and businesses normally open to the public should refrain from opening, the Seville-based Andalusia government said on Friday.
In some other holiday areas along Spain’s Mediterranean coast, beaches have also been declared closed. The region of Murcia has ordered the closure of all businesses except for those selling food and basic necessities, as well as a “confinement” order affecting its coastal towns.
The Balearic Islands government has also ordered bars, restaurants and other leisure businesses to shut, as have the regions of Asturias and Cantabria in northern Spain.
Do I need to self-quarantine if I visit Spain?
Britons who have travelled to Spain in the last 14 days have been instructed to self-isolate in the UK if they are showing flu-like symptoms.
What do I do if I get stuck in a lockdown situation?
The FCO states: “If the local authority where you are proposes to quarantine you for your own protection, you should follow their advice. When you are abroad, your safety and security is their responsibility.
“If there are suspected cases of coronavirus where you are, you may need to remain in your hotel room or accommodation for 14 days, move to quarantine facilities, take tests for coronavirus and, if positive in some cases, be hospitalised abroad.
“You should also contact your airline or travel company, and your insurance provider as soon as you can. We only organise assisted departure in exceptional circumstances.”
Its advice also states: “If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).”
Would I get money back if I cancelled my trip to Spain?
If the Foreign Office changes its travel advice for the country you are visiting to “avoid all but essential travel” (as it has for parts of Spain) or “avoid all travel” and you have booked with a tour operator, you should be eligible for a refund, or your tour operator will organise alternative travel arrangements. If you have booked your holiday independently and an FCO warning is put in place before you travel, you will have to check the terms and conditions of your bookings and your insurance policy.
If you want to cancel a package holiday to an area that does not have a Foreign Office warning in place, then you will not be eligible for a refund. If you have booked independently and the region is still considered safe by the FCO, you are unlikely to be able to cancel your change trip without losing money. Your best course of action would be to contact your hotel, tour operator or airline to ask if you can change your plans.
Is my insurance valid if I travel to Spain?
Your travel insurance will be valid so long as the Foreign Office has not issued a warning before you travel. If the FCO issues a warning while you are in an affected region, you will be covered as normal so long as you follow the latest FCO advice for British nationals. Some insurance policies will provide support if, when you are abroad, you are prevented from travelling home due to travel restrictions caused by coronavirus. Always double check your policy, and check Foreign Office warnings, before you travel.
Still wondering if you should go ahead with your holiday, or cancel? See our ten-point travel advice check list.