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When will travellers to Canary Islands be able to use rapid antigen tests?

BayRadio | December 2, 2020

England has come out of lockdown today, 2nd December, permitting international travel from tier 1 and tier 2 areas.

The Canary Islands is the only place in Spain on the UK’s travel corridor list – meaning travellers do NOT have to quarantine on return.

From today, travellers can fly out of airports in tier 1 and tier 2 areas of England.

A UK government statement says residents in England ‘may travel abroad’ from today and that travel rules will not change between 23-27 December. Read here.

But does this mean a bit of winter sun in the Canary Islands is possible?

Tier 1 (beige) tier 2 (yellow) and tier 3 (orange) areas in England. Source: Wikipedia.

Since 23rd November, Spain requests a negative PCR test result to enter the country from countries on its risk list.

The UK is currently listed on this list – see here.

The fine for not presenting a negative PCR test result upon arrival in a Spanish airport can reach 6,000e – as BayRadio has reported here.

The issue with PCR tests are that they must be taken within 72 hours before arrival in Spain and only in a private laboratory.

Prices can often be higher than airline tickets – Spanish travel site Preferente found PCR test prices range from £75-200.

The requirement to self-isolate upon return from the Canary Islands was lifted on 25th October – see FCDO advice on Spain here.

Antigen test

An antigen test could change everything.

The tests take just 15 minutes and have an accuracy on par with PCR tests that require a lab and 4-6 hours for results.

On 11th November the European Commission published guidelines that allow the use of antigen tests as a replacement for PCR tests.

So far – despite confident petitions from the Canary Islands – Spain’s central government has not yet formally authorised the use of antigen tests.

Travel agencies such as TUI have seized this confidence – the German arm of the company is expecting to fly 300,000 Germans to the Canary Islands this winter period.

The Canary Islands government were expecting a firm answer by Tuesday this week, but this answer has not yet arrived.

Holiday bookings to the Canary Islands have already increased 23% for 2021 – according to hotel association Hosteltur – and an answer on antigens is expected soon.

According to El Español, the Canarian government during a meeting at 10:30 today will approve the antigen tests.

Spain’s central government in Madrid made no moves towards accepting the tests, and the Canary Islands will take the decision independently.

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Written by BayRadio

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