Spain Holidays: The Canary Islands agree to rapid Covid-19 antigen test for holidaymakers

The Canary Islands are breaking ranks with mainland Spain over which COVID-19 tests are acceptable. UK tourists will now be allowed to enter the Canary Islands if they take a rapid Covid-19 antigen test. This is good news for travel agents who sell winter sun holidays to tourist hot spots such as Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Tenerife.

The Decree Law 17/2020 of 29th October 2020 by President Torres, which goes against those currently in place by mainland Spain, was published in the Official Gazette of the Canary Islands (BOC) on Wednesday afternoon and will come into force today (Thursday, December 10).

Currently, mainland Spain is requiring all Britons to take a full PCR test within 72 hours of travel. Tourists are obliged to show a negative PCR test which is not only more expensive it also takes longer to turnaround results.

Travel agents have reported that some holidaymakers have had to miss flights to the Canaries because their PCR test failed to come through the post in time.

Even the discounted postal PCR tests supplied by TUI and Jet2holidays are taking far longer than expected to turnaround the results leading to missed holidays. Agents fed up with having to rebook holidays had to insist clients book their test before booking a holiday.

However, holidaymakers are struggling too. With so much demand for a test, getting a timely appointment to have a PCR test in clinics and drive through test centres and Boots is proving a challenge. This is also true of testing at airports.

So this measure by the Canary Islands, whose regional government wants to make it easier for tourists to access testing, is very welcome. Antigen tests do not need to be sent to a lab for analysis so results can come back within hours rather than days.

The Canaries insist it has the authority to accept the antigen test as new cases of Covid amongst visitors – some 250,000 international tourists – over the past five weeks, has plummeted.

Incidentally, the decree makes it possible for a traveller to be tested within 72 hours of arrival; within 72 hours of arrival; or even to be confined for 14 days.

If you choose to take the test after arrival, you will have to remain in isolation in your residence, temporary residence or tourist accommodation until a negative result is obtained.