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Expats feeling ‘isolated' in Spain due to amber list - ‘impossible' to go back

Daily Express logo Daily Express 23/07/2021 ANDREA BLAZQUEZ
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The strict UK travel restrictions are affecting not only holidaymakers but British expats who can't return home due to the costly rules.

Spain is currently on the amber list, meaning non-fully vaccinated Britons have to quarantine for 10 days on their return.

However, the country could move to the "amber plus" list soon, which would mean fully-jabbed travellers will also have to self-isolate in the UK.

On top of this, the UK hasn't recognised the EU vaccine passport yet, meaning only travellers that have had their vaccine administered by the NHS are exempt from quarantining when returning from an amber list country.

This is a major issue for expats living abroad.

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a man standing next to a body of water: expat spain © PA expat spain

Most of them have received their jab in Spain, meaning they are not exempt from quarantine when returning to the UK, despite being fully-vaccinated.

Nigel Ayres, who runs Expat Network and currently lives in Spain, explained how it is "impossible" for him to visit the UK at the moment.

"We are both double-vaccinated here in Spain, but the current rules do not allow you to travel without quarantine unless you are double-vaccinated in the UK," he explained.

"We currently plan to return to the UK in August but If the UK does not recognise EU vaccination certificates we will again have to postpone our trip."

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He explained how the UK's travel restrictions have made him feel "isolated" in Spain.

"The travel restrictions have meant that friends and family who had intended to visit us have been unable to do so," he explained.

"At a time when we were settling into a new country and had not yet established a network of new friends this resulted in a feeling of isolation initially.

"We have made regular use of WhatsApp and Zoom to stay in touch but part of our thoughts when deciding to move over here was that we would be able to entertain friends and family on a regular basis."

a group of people on a beach: expat spain © PA expat spain

He continued: "I have not been able to visit the UK since February 2020 due to the travel restrictions.

"I had not seen our daughter who lives in London since then until we were able to arrange to meet her in Portugal during the brief period in May when the Government put Portugal on the green list," he said.

"I have also not been able to see my 88-year old mother nor our friends and family.

"The UK's testing and quarantine requirements make it very expensive to return to the UK. Not just the cost of the tests but also the cost of having to rent somewhere for 10 days to spend quarantine," Nigel continued.

map: top countries expats © Express top countries expats

"Overall the constantly shifting rules have seemed arbitrary and have made it impossible to plan."

He explained that "the current Amber Plus for France is clearly a concern as Spain could be added at any time."

France was the last country to join the newly created "amber plus list", with the Government citing concerns over the Beta variant

At the moment, and according to European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) data, the cases of the Beta variant in Spain are five times higher than in France.

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