UK Ambassador: The UK will study the Canary Islands separately in the next review
The UK ambassador to Spain, Hugh Elliott, has said today that "in principle" the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands will be studied separately for the next Covid-19 traffic light review in the UK, before June 28th. In an interview with Europa Press Televisión, he said that the request of the governments of both Spain and the archipelagos, with which they have a "very good relationship", will be met to catalogue the islands separately, but that "in practice we will have to see the situation on the ground with the UK scientific advisors."
The entire Spanish territory remains on amber within the British traffic light system, which means that tourists will have to undergo a ten-day quarantine upon their return to the UK, despite the fact that, since May 24th, Spain has allowed them entry without any requirement whatsoever.
Elliott stressed that, for the moment, the traffic light has only been applied at country level across the board, but they have now opened up to study the islands (Canary Islands and Balearic Islands) separately due to "their geographical situation and because they have direct flights to UK".
He stressed that the situation in mainland Spain "is different", as there is "very fluid movement" between regions without being able to establish controls between them, so the mainland has to be studied "as a whole." He also confirmed that last time the Islands data was studied, but the application of the traffic light was at a national, not a regional, level.
Elliott clarified that he understands that other communities have done a very good job, such as Valencia, which has very good numbers, and knows that it is frustrating not being able to receive British tourists, but he stressed that, "Unfortunately, due to the fluidity that exists in the borders between regions, it is not possible to make segregation within mainland Spain."
The ambassador went on to explain that the traffic light measures four main factors, including the accumulated incidence rate of the virus, and the level of vaccination, for which he pointed out "is progressing well in Spain but has a long way to go”, as well as the variants that may appear and the sequencing capacity that a country has.
He did, however, clarify that these are the "generic terms", and that "it cannot be said that there is a fixed threshold", because all the factors are analyzed.
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"TRAVELLING DURING THE PANDEMIC IS DIFFICULT"
The United Kingdom updated its travel traffic light last Thursday, with effect from yesterday, turning Portugal from green to amber, which caused thousands of tourists to have to leave the country in advance.
On this, Elliott stated that "it is complicated" and that they are aware that "moving internationally in times of the pandemic is difficult", arguing that the priority of governments is public health, which "means making decisions that at times are inconvenient”.
"We are very sorry", he assured in his interview, adding that the only factor that is being taken into account is "the protection of public health" and that this is the "reality of living with the pandemic".
British airlines and travel agencies have criticized the Government's "lack of transparency" regarding decisions on travel restrictions, yet in Elliott's view it is demonstrating "exemplary transparency." Specifically, he claimed that they are explaining "at all times" when decisions are going to be made, as well as the bases and factors that influence them, but they cannot "anticipate the facts and reality of the pandemic”.
"It is a difficult balance", he said, qualifying that the British Government tries to be "as open as possible" so that companies make decisions in advance, but that they cannot always have "a perfect answer".