Fears are growing that the Balearic Islands could be moved to the UK’s amber travel list following a recent spike in coronavirus cases.
On Wednesday this week, islands including Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza joined the government’s green list – allowing British tourists to vacation there without having to self-quarantine on their return and causing a surge in bookings.
But just two days later, an increase in infections raised concerns and travel experts warned the islands were on their way to revert to amber, which would force vacationers to adhere to a 10-day quarantine on their own. back to UK.
Yesterday, the Spanish Ministry of Health reported 304 new infections in the Balearic Islands in 24 hours, 105 more than the day before.
Mallorca and Menorca have reportedly seen spikes in cases following an outbreak among more than 600 Spanish students who celebrated the end of the term on the islands.
In the fortnight preceding July 2, 143 positive cases were recorded per 100,000 inhabitants in the islands. By comparison, when the government announced its decision to remove Portugal from the green list, the country’s 14-day incidence rate was less than 62.5 new cases per 100,000 population.
Changes to the UK light travel system do not just depend on case rates, with parameters like number of vaccinations, infection rates and the prevalence of variants being taken into account as well.
The Balearic Islands are also on the government’s green “watch list”, designed to warn travelers that their destination’s green status may change in the short term.
But travel expert Paul Charles, CEO of the PC agency, said the startling numbers are “definite amber territory.”
“There is a dilemma brewing for the government here. They just put the Balearic Islands on the Green Watch List – they’ve done a great thing with the Green Watch List being a conservative approach. So now that the numbers have increased in the last few days, let’s see if they keep their word to bring countries back to orange in the short term, ”he added.
The watchlist serves as an additional warning to travelers that the status of their destination could change with little warning.
The government is also updating its green, orange and red lists every three weeks, with the last update being on June 24 and the changes taking effect on Wednesday.
Virginia Messina, senior vice president of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), said the traffic light system for international travel “is only confusing and further depressing demand.”
“If the Balearics get off the green list and switch to amber, it will be a blow to holidaymakers and the UK travel and tourism industry which has put its hopes in an island holiday to bolster their summer season in difficulty, ”she added.
While the number of British tourists to the islands is not known, on June 24, when the government announced the downgrade, economy airline Jet2 said it recorded its highest volume of bookings to the Spanish islands in almost a year.
What are your rights if you have booked a stay abroad this summer:
Even if the country you are traveling to was green at the time of booking, if it changes, you are unlikely to receive a refund for a flight or vacation. Most travel insurance is invalid as the Foreign Office (FCDO) warns against visiting most Orange List destinations.
Travelers are not entitled to any refund unless their vacation or flight is canceled. Although most operators allow changing dates or destinations if a country changes from green to orange, it can be costly.
The disturbing data comes as 22 more countries are expected to be added to the UK’s green list in the next two weeks.
Primarily European countries, including Italy, France and Bulgaria, are currently reaching the case rate threshold for inclusion according to an analysis by former British Airways chief strategy officer Robert Boyle.
All have infection rates of less than 20 cases per 100,000 population as well as high vaccination rates and a low prevalence of variants such as the Delta variant.
Destinations on the “green watch list”, which include the Balearic Islands, are at risk of turning orange in the short term.