Holidaymakers have been left “shocked and confused” after Covid-19 second wave fears convinced ministers to remove the country from the UK’s safe list.
The move will mean all travellers returning from the country, including the Spanish islands, will have to self-isolate for two weeks, the Department for Transport confirmed.
Chloe Harris, 23, from Kent, booked a last-minute trip to Lanzarote and arrived on the Spanish island on Saturday morning.
She said she was “gutted” to hear the news.
“When I heard the news I was quite shocked because I thought they would have given us some warning. Even just some warning that this was something they were going to consider,” she said.
The four-night trip was booked last minute on Wednesday, and Ms Harris, who is travelling with a friend, said they had researched the destination beforehand.
Speaking before the official announcement, she said: “We had done our research and we knew that the island has only had a small number of Covid cases.
“I think a lot of people are going to rush to the airport, but because we are only here for four days, and we only arrived this morning, it doesn’t seem worth it. We are just going to wait and hear if the island is included in the quarantine
“I would probably be fine to continue working from home and quarantine from home, although I would have to stop going into the office.
“However, my friend who I travelled with is due to start a new job on August 3 and so that’s going to be difficult to explain to her employer.”
Neil Hunter, 45, from Sittingbourne in Kent, had booked a 10-day break to Lanzarote, leaving on Tuesday. The trip had been booked since last December, but has now been thrown into doubt.
He said: “We were going as a family, my wife Amanda, and teenage daughter Bethany but to be honest, since this announcement, I’m unsure what’s going to happen as I work as a train driver, and I don’t think my employer will accept me having to isolate due to going on holiday.
“I am insured, but unsure whether they’d accept that as a reason for not going, especially if Hays Travel don’t cancel for me. There’s no way I could afford to cancel myself.”
He said he understood why the decision had been taken, but that it “is a lot of money and disappointing all the same”.
The so-called “travel corridor” with Spain was shutdown after it reported more than 900 new daily infections for the past two days.
The decision means those coming back from the popular holiday destination will have to self-isolate for two weeks upon their return to UK after all four administrations – England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – opted to join forces over the move.
The fresh measures not only caught unsuspecting members of the public off guard, but ministers too.
It has been confirmed Transport Secretary Grant Shapps – whose department announced the rule change – flew to Spain on Saturday morning to start his summer holiday, meaning he will have to quarantine for a fortnight if the travel corridor remains suspended by the end of his trip.
A UK Government spokesman said: “The Joint Biosecurity Centre together with Public Health England have updated their coronavirus assessments of Spain based on the latest data.
“As a result, Spain has been removed from the lists of countries from which passengers arriving in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are exempted from the need to self-isolate.
“Protecting public health is our absolute priority and we have taken this decision to limit any potential spread to the UK.
“We’ve always been clear that we would act immediately to remove a country where necessary.
“Both our list of quarantine exemptions and the FCO travel advice are being updated to reflect these latest risk assessments.”
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