Spain will allow UK travellers to enter for a holiday from May 24 – but does that mean you should jet off for a sunny half-term holiday?
Although the Spanish government wants to welcome British holidaymakers, the country is still on the Department for Transport’s amber travel list, meaning non-essential travel isn’t advised.
The UK government has asked the public not to travel to amber list countries for leisure purposes and has said travel to these places should only be in certain circumstances, such as unavoidable business, a funeral or caring for a relative. This is guidance, and not law, so some travel operators are still selling trips.
Those returning from an amber country are asked to quarantine for 10 days when they arrive back to the UK – but there are concerns parents might skip the isolation and send children back into school, to avoid school absence fines.
Because of this, HuffPost understands families will not be penalised where they are following public health advice by quarantining or self-isolating, meaning fines are waved.
In regular times, parents have to ask the school’s permission for their child to miss lessons. If they take a child out of school without this, they risk being fined £60 by the local council, which rises to £120 if it’s not paid within 21 days.
However, the government doesn’t want to encourage parents to skip the isolation period. It takes the position that fines are “a last resort” and should only be used where there is no lawful reason for the child’s absence.
Absence due to mandatory self-isolation or quarantine should be recorded in the attendance register as “not attending in circumstances relating to coronavirus” to reflect the fact that the pupil is following public health advice by not attending school.
But Julie McCulloch, from The Association of School and College Leaders, told the i paper parents should resist the lure of a half-term break altogether to make things easier for schools. “We do not want to see young people missing lessons, particularly after the last year of disrupted learning, and urge parents to carefully consider the implications of any foreign travel at half-term, however tempting such an idea might be,” she said.
The official line from the government is that Brits shouldn’t be travelling to amber countries for leisure purposes anyway, even though some tour operators are still selling holidays. Instead, you should look at a quarantine-free green list holiday if you’re determined to go away this half-term.
Business minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said scientists still think there’s “too great a risk” in travelling to amber list countries for non-urgent reasons such as holidays.
“The reality is, at the moment, amber countries are still not meeting the criteria for our scientists to say that they should be green,” she told Times Radio. “So the recommendation remains don’t go unless you have to, and remember that, if you do go, you will have to quarantine for 10 days and that will be monitored.”
A government spokesperson added: “Our guidance is clear that people should not travel to amber list countries or territories for holidays.
“Parents also have a duty to make sure their child regularly attends school, and they should make sure wherever possible, this does not conflict with self-isolation requirements following international travel.”