Only one flight was scheduled for Corvera Murcia Airport today (Saturday) – TUI fly arriving from Antwerp at 9.30am and returning to Belgium at 10.25. Other than that, all flights have been cancelled, as airports in the Aena network enforce government restrictions – including a lockdown throughout Spain – aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus COBID-19.
According to local newspaper reports, apart from the occasional disorientated tourist, the only people at the terminal this weekend (following TUI fly’s departure) are airport staff, although they say they don’t know if they will be required to maintain the airport operative next week. “The situation changes every minute, because the airlines are constantly modifying their plans,” one source told La Verdad. Ryanair, EasyJet and Binter have all ceased services, while Norwegian’s summer schedule is on hold.
Aena’s official health alert (for the whole of Spain) advises that “travelling is not allowed except for reasons that cannot be postponed. If this is your case, remember to check with your airline always before flying and follow these measures when you arrive at the airport.”
- Keep a safe distance (at least one metre) from others.
- Do not go to the airport more than 90 minutes in advance.
- Avoid large groups of people.
British Embassy Travel Advice
Meanwhile, the British Embassy in Madrid has published a new video from ambassador Hugh Elliott, aimed at British tourists in Spain, as well as a Q&A on Facebook addressing some of the most frequently asked questions. Latest travel advice is available here.
The travel advice is updated regularly, and travellers are invited to sign up for email alerts, “so you are notified when we add new information. You may also want to join our Brits in Spain Facebook page, where we post updates regularly, and where you can find a community that can also help answer specific questions. The situation is fast moving and many people have had their travel plans and holidays disrupted.”
The Q&A covers a comprehensive range of queries. Here is a summary…
Are hotels closing?
Yes, the Spanish government has confirmed that hotel and short-term accommodation must close by midnight 26 March. Our current advice is that British travellers who wish to return to the UK should make plans to do so as soon as possible.
The Spanish authorities may ask British travellers to move hotels, as guests are being grouped into smaller numbers of hotels, but the Spanish tourism authorities have underlined that no-one will be left without accommodation.
Can’t get through to airline?
Airlines and ferry companies are experiencing a high volume of calls. Check their websites for latest information or other flight comparison websites for further information to arrange travel back to the UK. You may need to be flexible about your destination airport in the UK and your preferred date/time of travel.
Can’t afford flight back?
In very exceptional circumstances, and as a last resort, the FCO may be able to provide an emergency loan from public funds to help you return home. This is discretionary and will only be considered if you have exhausted all other methods of getting funds.
Will you repatriate people back from Spain?
Assisted departure will only be offered in the most exceptional circumstances. There remain commercial options for British tourists to return from Spain. British tourists in Spain should speak to their travel provider and follow the guidance of local authorities.
Do the emergency measures apply to British travellers on holiday in Spain?
Yes, they do. British travellers should follow the instructions of the local authorities. Anyone found to be breaching these instructions may be subject to action by the local authorities, including fines and possible arrest.
Can I drive to the airport?
The emergency measures restrict travel within Spain, but travel to the airport to return to the UK is an accepted reason. You may need to provide evidence of your journey (i.e. plane ticket). Friends or family can also drive you to the airport, but should keep evidence of the reason (e.g. a photo of travel tickets in case they are stopped on the return home) and comply with police restrictions on travel.
I have a house in Spain. Can I stay in it or do I have to go back to the UK?
If you are resident here for all or part of the year, rather than just visiting as a short-stay tourist, you can stay if you wish and your residential circumstances allow you to abide by the local instructions (e.g. cater for yourself, etc).
Can I drive back through France?
Spain is not restricting land border crossings from Spain to France. To drive back through France, the French authorities require that you fill in a declaration to explain your reason for travel; you should also have evidence of your onward travel plan (i.e. ferry/rail ticket).
Healthcare and EHIC use in Spain…
If you are temporarily in Spain and you need to see the doctor, be reassured that the UK EHIC is still valid for the rest of 2020 and will cover you for any necessary treatment. Due to the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak, you must follow the advice of local authorities, and comply with self-isolation, testing or quarantine requirements.
Health advice on returning to the UK?
Look at the Public Health England guidance on gov.uk. We no longer have geographical limits to who gets tested and who we ask to self-isolate – this will just be based on symptoms and it is no longer relevant where someone has travelled from. Anyone who has any of the symptoms should use the 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do next and not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital
Our priority is to provide assistance to those British nationals overseas that need our help the most. For example, that might include those who are elderly, or those with physical or mental health complications. If you consider that you, or your relatives, are particularly vulnerable and require assistance, contact your local British consulate for support.