The UK government has implemented new quarantine rules for those returning from Spain in reaction to a spike in cases there. The new rules came into force less than six hours after they were announced. So what will it mean for travellers? By Sarah Bradbury.
As for many people, this news not only came as a shock but also royally buggered up our plans. With my partner being from Madrid, his family had excitedly booked in trips to come visit us in London once lockdown restrictions had lifted and air bridges are established.
His brother was due to take a trip to Newquay with us in August and his parents to come to see us in September (when we are expecting to have a new little one for them to meet!)
But just like the thousands of others who had booked trips or holidays under the same understanding as us, we are now scrambling around to work out what the new rules mean…
So what are the new rules?
Those returning to the UK from Spain now need to self-isolate for two weeks on their return. They must provide an address where they will stay and avoid going out for any reason – even to buy food if they can rely on others. They could face a fine of £1000 if they don’t comply (in Scotland it’s £480).
The gov said they needed to take “swift, decisive” action in reaction to a spike in cases in the country: 971 on Thursday and 922 on Friday. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said they “can’t make apologies” for the decision.
How will it affect travellers?
According to travel experts The PC Agency, 1.8m people were due to fly from the UK to Spain before the end of August. Many are now considering cancelling their trips or worried about how they will manage if they do need to self-isolate. Those who were already on holiday told of panic and chaos.
The govt has asked companies to be “sympathetic” to employees, but as Labour’s shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds pointed out “there is no guarantee their employers will allow them 14 days of work flexibility.”
As the FCO is now advising against all non-essential travel to mainland Spain, it will invalidate insurance for those travelling against their advice.
How have people reacted?
On Sunday, Spain’s foreign minister insisted it was safe to visit, saying “the outbreaks in Spain are perfectly controlled.”
Package holiday operator Tui have cancelled all holidays to mainland Spain until 9th August and are calling for a more nuanced, regional policy that takes into account the specific areas affected. BA and easyJet have strongly criticised the UK government’s decision, but have said they will continue to operate flights despite the quarantine rules.
Labour is calling on the government to provide support to workers with support and said the last minute decision “created a sense of panic and loss of control”. Labour also believes a “sector-specific deal for aviation” is needed as quarantine measures continue to affect the travel industry.
Thousands who had booked holidays to other destinations are also now cancelling their trips for fears of further “handbrake restrictions”. Other countries seeing spikes in cases across Europe include France, Belgium and Germany.
It’s not only devastating news for those who were hoping to make the most of the remainder of the summer after 4 months in lockdown, but also for the tourism and aviation industry which have been brought to their knees by the pandemic.
Did you have a trip to Spain booked? Share your story with us.