People arriving in the UK from Spain could have to quarantine for 10 days rather than a fortnight under plans being looked at by ministers.
The government is weighing up the move after a huge backlash from holidaymakers and businesses.
Ministers announced the controversial two week quarantine period at the weekend – despite the fact Transport Secretary Grant Shapps was sunning himself in Spain with his family.
It came after Spanish health authorities announced a surge in new Covid-19 cases, prompting fears of a fresh outbreak.
But tourists affected by the new rules hit back, saying they would lose wages because of the measure because they can’t get Statutory Sick Pay.
Mr Shapps, who will return to Britain tomorrow as it’s thought he is still trying to book a flight, has yet to confirm it plans to reduce the period to 10 days.
But according to The Telegraph, people returning from high-risk countries could be tested for coronavirus eight days after returning.
If the test comes back negative, they will be allowed to stop isolating.
A Whitehall source told the Mirror the idea is “being canvassed” and “on the table” but warned: “Like a lot of these things it’s whether or not it’s actually practical.
“These things sound like good ideas but you need to know if they’ll actually work.”
Tory minister Simon Clarke refused to rule out the move, but said guidance was not changing for now.
He told Sky News: “The situation remains that the government’s advice is that you must quarantine for 14 days. I wouldn’t want to blur that message.
“That is the current position. Obviously, as with all this guidance, we continue to take advice on the science and on the best practice that is sensible.
“But we wouldn’t want to give any mixed messages today to the public – it is a 14-day quarantine. That is the was to keep both yourself and your friends and family and the wider community safe.”
The Telegraph also reported ministers have considered testing all Brits who returned from Spain since July 23.
It’s understood the idea has been looked at by the Department of Health, but sources said No10 and the Transport Department played down the reports.
A No10 source said they were not expecting the plan to be announced.
And Mr Clarke told the BBC: “No, we’re not advising that.
“Certainly if you’ve been in Spain and then you show any symptoms, then we would certainly say you should.”
He added: “A negative test today doesn’t necessary mean you won’t come down with the virus later.
“Because the incubation period can take several days. That’s precisely why we advocate this two-week [quarantine].”
He went on: “If it came through on day 13 and you’d had a negative test on day 8, that’s no good to anybody.”
The Foreign Office has advised against non-essential travel to Spain.
Earlier today this was extended to include the Balearic and Canary Islands.
Tour operator TUI axed all holidays to the Spanish mainland until August 9 because of the new quarantine rules – which require all travellers returning to the UK to self-isolate for 14 days.
A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “We have considered the overall situation for British nationals travelling to and from the Balearic and Canary Islands, including the impact of the requirement to self-isolate on return to the UK, and concluded that we should advise British nationals against all non-essential travel to the whole of Spain.”
The shock announcement on Saturday evening was revealed just five hours before the measures became mandatory.
Yesterday, officials in Spain said they would work with the UK government to establish regional air bridges, meaning travel may be allowed to destinations with low rates of infection.
But thousands of holidays were cancelled – with many travellers facing losing hundreds of pounds.
The Tories sparked fury after telling thousands of British holidaymakers they can’t claim sick pay when they come home from Spain.
Up to 600,000 Brits in Spain must quarantine for 14 days on their return after spiralling Covid-19 cases prompted a last-minute clampdown.
Yet they won’t be able to claim £95.85-a-week Statutory Sick Pay. Instead, Brits must rely on bosses’ generosity to either let them work from home; pay a non-legally-required rate of sick pay; or keep paying them full salary while they’re stuck indoors.
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