Consumer rights and travel organizations have criticized the government after it suddenly moved to impose quarantine restrictions on those returning from Spain.
Inisters announced on Saturday that vacationers who had not returned from Spain and its islands at midnight should be quarantined for 14 days after fears of the second wave of Covid-19 saw the European country removed from the UK safe list.
But questions have been raised as to why the so-called “travel corridor” with the UK’s most popular holiday destination was suspended without much notice, with the sudden turn of events even breaking transport secretary Grant Shapps, currently in Spain for his summer.
Many vacationers will be deeply angry that the government did not make this decision 48 hours ago, before tens of thousands flew away for their summer vacation in SpainWhich?
According to The Sunday Times, Mr. Shapps, whose department formally announced the change of the rules, had to call in from Spain to discuss the change of the guidelines with Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Cabinet Secretary Office Michael Gove.
In Scotland, Spain was only added to the safe list of countries last week before Saturday night’s dramatic turnaround.
Northern Ireland and Wales also followed the suspension of the travel corridor.
The London-based World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) said that the decision to remove Spain from the list of travel corridor exemptions was “disastrous” for the travel and tourism industry, both in Spain and the UK.
Gloria Guevara, WTTC president and director, said: “While the health and safety of travelers – and those working in the travel and tourism industry – is paramount, this move will be a major blow to holidaymakers already in Spain will now be forced into isolation when they return home.
Rory Boland, editor of Consumer Rights Magazine Which? Travel said, “Many vacationers will be deeply angry that the government did not make this decision 48 hours before tens of thousands of them left for their summer vacation in Spain.
“Many would not have traveled if they had known they would be quarantined for 14 days on their return.”
Tui, the UK’s largest tour operator, said it had canceled all flights due to departure to mainland Spain and the Canary Islands on Sunday.
General Manager Andrew Flintham confirmed that the company would contact customers to arrange refunds or rebookings, but added, “We are incredibly disappointed that we were no longer notified of this announcement or that this decision was not made yesterday, like many Brits travel on holiday on weekends. ”
But government sources said that the “fast-moving picture” regarding the Spanish coronavirus cases meant that ministers had to act “immediately.”
A UK government spokesman said: “The Joint Biosecurity Center, together with Public Health England, has updated their coronavirus assessments of Spain based on the most recent data.
As a result, Spain has been removed from the list of countries from which passengers arriving in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are exempt from the need to isolate themselves.
“Protecting public health is our absolute priority and we made this decision to limit potential spread to the UK.
“It has always been clear to us that we would take immediate action to remove a country where necessary.”
The reintroduction of quarantine measures will apply to those returning from mainland Spain, the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands, such as Mallorca and Ibiza, the Department for Transport (DfT) confirmed.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs now advises against all essential trips to mainland Spain.
Nick Thomas-Symonds, Labor secretary, said the news would be “of great concern to families” currently in Spain or planning a trip, and called on ministers to release details explaining how the affected people would be supported.
Employers are urged by the DfT to “understand those returning from Spain who now need to isolate themselves” following the sudden change of opinion.
But the move is likely to cast doubt on thousands of vacation plans, as potential jet-setters risk traveling to Spain and the requirement to stay home for two weeks upon arrival in Britain.
Neil Hunter, 45, from Sittingbourne, Kent, booked a 10-day vacation to Lanzarote last December.
Due to departure on Tuesday, he told the PA news agency: “We went as a family, my wife Amanda and teenage daughter Bethany, but to be honest, since this announcement, I am not sure what will happen if I work a driver, and I don’t think my employer will accept that I have to isolate myself because I am going on vacation. ”
Authorities in Spain warned the country that lost 28,000 lives before the outbreak could be brought under control, the start of a second major outbreak.
On Thursday, the Spanish Ministry of Health reported 971 new daily infections, the largest daily increase since the closure in Spain.
Catalonia became the newest region to crack down on nightlife, trying to stop new clusters of infection.
The wealthy northeastern region – home to Barcelona – ordered all nightclubs to close for 15 days and put a curfew on bars in the greater area of Barcelona and other towns around Lleida that have become infectious hot zones at midnight.
The quarantine imposition came when PHE, who was involved in Spain’s decision, came under fire from senior Tories for not committing leadership mistakes during the pandemic treatment, according to a Sunday Telegraph report.
The newspaper claimed the government is considering a “radical overhaul” of the health agency after chief executive Duncan Selbie, during an appearance before PHE’s advisory board last week, defended the decision to stop detecting contacts during Covid-19. top.