Spain Bans Unvaccinated British Travelers From December 1st

From next Wednesday, December 1st, only fully vaccinated tourists from the UK will be allowed to visit Spain. The decision comes as countries tighten rules amid concern over the new Omicron coronavirus variant. Until now, all UK citizens could enter Spain by simply showing a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival.

British Airways
From December 1st, all UK citizens arriving in Spain must be fully vaccinated. Photo: Getty Images

The change in the rules comes over fears that a new variant of the coronavirus, named by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “Omicron,” poses an extreme risk. The big concern is that this new variant, unlike Delta, is far more dangerous as it is thought to have many more mutations than the Delta variant. The worry is that the vaccines that have been developed could prove to be ineffective.

Omicron is already in Europe

After being discovered in South Africa, cases of the Omicron variant have been detected in Belgium, Botswana, Hong Kong, Italy, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Despite a quick call to action by global governments, the fear amongst epidemiologists is that it may now be too late to stop Omicron from spreading.

61 people arriving in the Netherlands from South Africa tested positive for COVID-19. Photo: Getty Images

Already facing a sharp increase in the number of people becoming infected with COVID-19, European leaders are busy trying to strike a balance between increasing preventive measures and preventing panic. The UK has also seen an uptick in cases in recent days, with over 50,000 on Friday.

In a bulletin issued by Spain, that was carried in the Independent, the government said,

“The appearance of new variants … obliges an increase in restrictions regarding people from the UK and Northern Ireland.”

When issuing the bulletin, the Spanish government was keen to stress that the new rule would not impact the 300,000 UK citizens who have permanent residency status in the country.

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Israel is banning foreigners for 14 days

Other countries are also tightening entry rules. Switzerland has imposed a ten-day quarantine on travelers from the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Egypt, and Malawi. Isreal, meanwhile, has said it is going to ban all foreigners from entering the country for 14 days in response to the new variant. When speaking about Israel’s drastic measures, Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked said:

“Our working hypotheses are that the variant is already in nearly every country and that the vaccine is effective, although we don’t yet know to what degree.”

Spain Bans Unvaccinated British Travelers From December 1st
Israel bans foreigners for 14 days. Photo: Getty Images

The move to ban all foreigners from entering Israel comes after the nation already banned travelers from Africa on Friday night. No foreigners will be allowed in from Monday, and any Israeli citizens returning from overseas must quarantine.

It may already be too late

When discussing countries imposing travel bans, many health officials fear that it may already be too late. However, countries are still hoping to contain the spread early on. The United Kingdom has also ramped up border controls, with all international arrivals from next weeks required to take Day 2 PCR tests and quarantine until the result.

Regarding Omicron, the verdict is still out on how effective the current vaccines will be. If it turns out that they offer little or no protection, the world could be in for a challenging winter.

What do you think about the new travel restrictions? Please tell us your thoughts in the comments.