The quarantine exemption from ‘amber list’ countries such as Spain only applies to those who were vaccinated in the UK, it has emerged.
When Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced on Thursday that the requirement to quarantine would be dropped for those who are returning to the UK from an amber country, the news was welcomed by many British residents in Spain and across the EU, keen to return to visit friends and family ‘back home’.
“From July 19, UK residents who are fully vaccinated will no longer have to self isolate when they return to England,” he said.
But the mood quickly soured when it emerged that only those Brits who had been vaccinated in the UK were included in the new rules.
“The lifting of restrictions for Brits in the UK is, of course, a welcome development, but there are two sides to this coin,” Sue Wilson of Bremain in Spain told the Olive Press.
“Many desperate UK nationals in Spain are being excluded, effectively preventing them from making UK visits. We have waited many long months to be reunited with family and friends.”
She said it was a particularly hard blow for those hoping to return home to see elderly relatives.
“Not everyone can rely on family members doing the travelling. That’s certainly not an option for those with elderly relatives in the UK or on limited budgets.
“Brits abroad are yet again being treated as an afterthought by our own government, and for no good reason. Any failure by the UK authorities to recognise the EU Covid passport is just another ridiculous triumph of idealogy over pragmatism. We deserve better,” she said.
Spain, along with several other countries in Europe, recognises the NHS covid pass and will allow travellers from the UK into the country without the need for a negative test if they have been double vaccinated, but the move is not yet reciprocal.
Reacting to the news on a post on facebook, Lorna Cage wrote: “I’m utterly bereft. I really can’t take much more of this. My mother is 92 and I haven’t seen my children for 18 months. We are inoculated with a drug licenced by the UK and we are British citizens. Political game playing at our expense.”
It was a common feeling.
“I am furious about this as all I want to do is visit my 92 year old parents without having to go into quarantine as I cannot be away from Spain for 10, 12, 14 days,” said Michael Soffe, a Briton living in Malaga who has been fully vaccinated.
“Why SHOULD the UK NOT accept EU vaccine certificates straight away? Why is a visit to the UK for us for family reasons less important than a holiday for a UK resident in a sun spot?”
Another Brit wrote: “UK citizens who happen to have been vaccinate elsewhere (*at a cost to someone other than the NHS!), are they not #British anymore? If the double-vaccinated are safe; then they are safe, wherever they live.”
Many slammed the measure for being discriminatory.
“It is surely discriminatory that this privilege has not as yet been granted to British citizens like myself who live outside the UK and who have followed all the rules but have been prohibited from visiting loved ones in the UK for sixteen months due to the impossibility of spending time in quarantine due to work commitments, financial constraints or not having a property in the UK in which to do so,” explained Ruth Woodhouse.
“This has been heart-breaking, and I consider that our need is as great as – if not greater than – that of people who simply wish to take a holiday (much as I appreciate their desire to do so!).
“As of the 1st July the EU has had a fully-functioning digital Covid certificate scheme in place – indeed, as a resident in Spain I have had the ability to show my own digital certificate for several weeks now – therefore I see absolutely no reason why the process should not be extremely simple,” she said.
Some of those desperately keen to travel back to the UK only realised the small print just in time.
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