Arrivals from Spain and its islands are advised to use a PCR test as their pre-departure test before returning to the UK, as part of the latest update to the government’s traffic light lists for international travel.
The move is being taken as a precaution against the increased prevalence of the coronavirus variants in the country, with the B.1.621 and Beta variants causing particular concern.
PCR tests are thought to be preferable because, in the case of a positive test, genomic sequencing can be used to detect and learn more about variants of concern.
All travellers setting a course for the UK must currently present a negative Covid test prior to departure; however, a cheaper, quicker lateral flow test has been deemed sufficient for those arriving from all other countries.
Rising cases in Spain in recent weeks led to fears, prior to this latest government announcement, that Spain could join France in the special “amber plus” category, necessitating quarantine for all returning travellers, regardless of vaccination status.
But the category appears to have been shelved, with France moved back onto the regular amber list in the latest update.
With Spain staying on the amber list, under 18s and adults who have had both Covid-19 vaccinations in the UK, US or EU more than two weeks before departure are able to avoid quarantine when arriving in the UK.
Those who are not fully vaccinated must continue to self-isolate at home for 10 days and take a PCR test on days two and eight.
Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid said: “As we learn to live with this virus we are continuing to take steps to safely reopen international travel, based on the latest data and expert public health advice.
“The vaccines have already prevented around 60,000 deaths and 22 million infections in England, and with over 7 in 10 adults in the UK now double jabbed we are building a wall of defence against the disease.
“As well as moving more countries to the green list, today’s announcement also demonstrates the need for continued caution.”
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