Secretary of State Dominic Raab said the government will not apologize for reintroducing strict quarantine regulations for travelers returning from Spain in the short term.
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.
The sudden timing of the announcement has been criticized by the travel industry and consumer rights organizations, but Mr Raab said the government has rightly taken “swift” action.
The quick turnaround even caught the eye of Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who is currently in Spain for his summer vacation and will have to isolate himself with thousands of others for a fortnight on his return to Britain.
The decision was made to suspend the so-called travel corridor with the UK’s most popular holiday destination, after Spain registered over 900 new daily Covid-19 cases over two days.
Mr. Raab told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday program: “The data we got was on Friday, it showed a big jump across mainland Spain. That was reviewed yesterday afternoon and we made the decision as soon as possible.
“And we can’t apologize for this.
“We need to be able to act quickly and decisively, especially with regard to localized or international with regard to Spain or a particular country, where we see that we need to take action.
I understand that it is disturbing to those who are experiencing this, who are in Spain or who have thought about it, but we need to be able to act quickly and decisively to protect the UKSecretary of State Dominic Raab
“Otherwise, we risk reinfection in the UK, possibly a second wave here and then another lockdown.
“So yes, I understand that it is disturbing for those who are experiencing this or are planning to go to Spain, but we need to be able to act quickly and decisively to protect the UK, because we have made such progress in obtaining it. virus down, and prevent the virus from being taken again in the UK.
The cabinet minister admitted that there is an “element of personal responsibility” involved when he tells people who come from Spain to isolate themselves, but stressed that there are “sanctions for non-compliance”.
Raab used his Sunday morning appearance to warn rogue employers, saying that no employee who follows quarantine guidance should be punished – not even by statutory sick pay.
“We expect employers to show those workers who will be quarantined by law to have the flexibility they need,” he added.
“If someone follows the law regarding quarantine and isolates himself as he should, no sanctions can be imposed against him.”
Labor criticized the way the government handled the decision, calling it “downright shambolic.”
Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said that the swift removal of Spain from the safe list had “baffled and distressed” holidaymakers and called for financial support for those now forced to lock up on returning home.
He told Sophy Ridge, “The way this decision has been communicated is clearly causing fear.
“When the government makes decisions, whether it’s shutting down a city like Leicester or telling vacationers to quarantine for 14 days, they need to back it up with financial support for people.”
Consumer rights and travel groups expressed frustration at the lack of warning about the suspension of the travel corridor, with Tui, the UK’s largest tour operator, wondering why “we were no longer being notified of this announcement” with thousands of Britons flocking to Spain flocked during the weekend.
Travelers also struck by the government’s general decision to include the Spanish islands in the isolation measures.
Teacher Zeta Hill has been on holiday in Mallorca for 12 days and will fly back on Tuesday.
She said that while she understood that she had taken a risk by traveling, “it doesn’t make sense” to include the Balearic Islands in the announcement.
She told the PA news agency: “We are not in mainland Spain and cases on the islands are very low.
“We have not been near the mainland. We feel so safe here. ‘
The 35-year-old from Essex had booked the last-minute trip with her husband, Stuart, 51, after their Caribbean vacation was canceled.
She said she believed the UK government had “encouraged” travel with the announcement of the air corridor system.
“We have been good and have followed the rules, but then you look at people who are on the UK beaches a few weeks ago and are really unsafe and there will be no consequences for them,” she added. .
‘This does not make sense. If it made sense, I would just accept it. ‘