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It probably hasn’t escaped many of you that we’re currently in the middle of a global pandemic, and the most adventure you can look forward to in the upcoming days is a trip to the Tesco biscuit aisle.
However, not everyone seems to be quite as accepting of their fate. InsideFlyer’s Euro-wide reach has well-placed contacts in Spain, and it seems that a number of restless Brits are making plans to use an exceptionally exploitable travel loophole – coming to Spain to view a property.
Firstly, there are of course a number of perfectly legitimate UK-based potential Spanish property buyers out there. While it could be argued that now is a strange time to be coming to Spain to view a property, everyone has their own needs and circumstances. There are also honest estate agents out there. I mean, I haven’t ever met one, but statistically they should exist, I think. In a sort of “monkey and typewriter” fashion. The pathologically honest peace-of-mind enthusiast who accidentally wrote “estate agent” on his job application, rather than “estate planning”.
The loophole in action
Anyway, back to the key point. The UK seems set to pass legislation (The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Steps) (England) Regulations 2021), effective from 29 March, allowing people to travel overseas in connection with second homes abroad, a move that has been dubbed the “Stanley Johnson loophole“.
The actual provision, as drafted, is:
Not only are Brits set to make use of this loophole, it is being actively encouraged by Estate Agents who are using it to drum up interest in Spain and get a nice captive audience to their properties.
Just have a look at this recent email communication from a Spanish estate agent:
Call me a cynic, but that last sentence doesn’t appear to entirely encourage a quick, essential visit for an essential viewing of an essential property. Plus that’s not even really the requirement – “reasonably necessary” is a pretty easy threshold to justify if you just announce an interest in buying (or even renting) Spanish property. Fairly remarkably, there doesn’t seem to be any clear time frames. It seems you could very easily come for a week in Spain, enjoy the open bars and restaurants, spend an hour viewing that “property of a lifetime” and then head home.
It also seems that people connected to estate agents in Spain are viewing them as having, effectively, a “licence to prescribe Spanish holidays”.
Clearly, this allowance is not limited to Spain, but we have very much a first-hand account of what is going on there. Let’s just say that a combination of Brits desperate for a holiday, and a largely open Costa del Sol, means that the 29 March relaxation will not only benefit the dedicated property buyers.
But don’t these people have to quarantine?
On arrival in Spain, travellers from the UK are not required to quarantine, although they may be required to take a Covid test.
On return to the UK, the “non-red list” quarantine is applicable, so 10 days of light-touch quarantine. I would gently submit that anyone prepared to go to Spain for a holiday right now is unlikely to be overly-daunted by a UK quarantine that’s borderline impossible to police.