Spain holidays: New covid tests could cost Britons more than their flights

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Spain’s latest entry requirement in a bid to combat the spread of coronavirus sees arrivals having to provide a covid-free certificate when they land in the country. In order to do so, they must take a PCR test within 72 hours before their entry into Spain.

British tourists are reportedly already being put off the idea of visiting the Spanish mainland and its holiday islands due to the “extortionate” cost of having to take a coronavirus test within 72 hours of leaving the UK.

The Spanish government introduced the new rule which took effect yesterday and will see visitors heading for Spain without a covid-free certificate being fined up to £2,500.

But holidaymakers who have arrived in Spain over the last 24 hours are already complaining about the cost which, they say, is averaging about £100 per person.

Spain is only accepting a full PCR coronavirus test, not the rapid antigen test which is considerably cheaper at around £20.

Hoteliers want the Spanish government to bend its rule and allow the rapid tests instead as they claim tourists cannot possibly afford the extra cost on their holiday, estimated at an additional £400 for a family of four.

In the Balearic Islands, tourist leaders are calling on the regional government to pay for arrivals to have a coronavirus test out of the funds collected by the nightly tourist tax.

Yesterday, at least five passengers arrived at Mallorca airport without a coronavirus-free certificate and will be fined £500 for the breach of the rules.

They were also ordered to take a test at the airport at their own expense. Another German visitor handed in a serological test that is not valid.

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One Ryanair passenger who was returning to Mallorca from Germany said she had to pay £80 for a PCR test but her flight had only cost £60.

“It doesn’t seem right to me,” she said.

Tourists arriving in the Canaries echoed the complaints, with one Briton, Stuart Moore telling Spanish newspaper El Dia after touching down in Tenerife: “It is an excessive measure for tourists.”

He said he and his girlfriend were spending a week on the island and had to pay £240 for the coronavirus tests in England.

Other holidaymakers pointed out that the cost of their tests was substantially higher than their flights.

There were also reports of one British couple being refused permission to board their plane because they did not have negative certificates.

UK holidaymakers must visit a private clinic for the test, not the NHS, because of the requirements which include the certificate showing all their identification details.

Furthermore, the Government is advising Britons to use private facilities to avoid putting unnecessary strain on the NHS.

The Canary government is pressing for a change in the law so that anyone arriving in Spain will be accepted with a rapid test result, not the full PCR.

President, Angel Victor Torres said he was confident the change would be made “within the next few days” as it was essential to encourage tourism and not put people off travelling.

Support for their case has come from Jet2 and the tour operator Jet2holidays which says Brits are showing a strong demand to holiday in the Canaries provided a cheaper rapid test is allowed.

Hoteliers in Spain have also pointed out an “ironic blip” in the system: although the government requires a PCR negative and will not accept a rapid antigen test, if they arrive without one they have to take a test at the airport before being allowed to continue – and that test is not a PCR but a rapid antigen.

“That’s double standards,” said a spokesman.

Additional reporting by Rita Sobot. 

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