Transport secretary Grant Shapps is among the British holidaymakers currently in Spain who will have to self-isolate on their return.
Ministers reimposed restrictions on travel from Spain, including its islands, on Saturday night following new outbreaks of coronavirus that prompted fears of a second wave of infections. This has thrown thousands of holidaymakers’ plans into disarray.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office changed its advice to warn against all but essential travel to mainland Spain.
Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth said “you couldn’t make it up” after it was confirmed Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is currently in Spain and will have to self-isolate on his return to Britain.
Speaking to Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday, Mr Ashworth said: “You couldn’t make it up that Grant Shapps is over there on holiday in Spain when he is the Transport Secretary – I think that tells you everything about the sort of Government approach to this.”
Annie Bennett, one of Telegraph’s Travel experts in Spain, based in Madrid, said of the new restrictions: “This announcement came as a total shock as the biggest outbreaks are concentrated in the regions of Catalonia and Aragón in the north of Spain – Barcelona is the only major tourist destination of concern.”
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Comment: ‘What kind of tortured logic includes the Spanish islands in the quarantine rules?’
The Balearic and Canary Islands have been included in the Government’s quarantine measures for Spain, despite the infection rates in those regions remaining low. However, the FCO is not advising against non-essential travel to the islands – this is incredibly confusing for holidaymakers due to travel there.
Telegraph Travel’s Ben Ross had booked a family holiday to Tenerife having looked at the Canary Islands’ low covid numbers (185 active cases across the archipelago at the moment).
Very few days have passed since I pressed the “confirm” button, but suddenly lots has changed. I watched this week’s news about the rise of infections in Catalonia and other parts of mainland Spain with huge concern for those whose lives were being directly affected, but little anxiety about its effect on a holiday in early August to Tenerife. Barcelona is 1,500 miles from the Canaries, after all, and almost all of that distance is taken up by the Atlantic Ocean.
All of which made the British government’s decision to withdraw “travel corridor” status from mainland Spain yesterday, and at the same time introduce immediate quarantine restrictions to Spain *and its islands* utterly perplexing.
Read the full story.
What happens if my Spain holiday is cancelled?
Tourists who travel to Spain will now face 14 days of self-isolation on their return. The Foreign Office (FCO) has also reimposed its advice against all non-essential travel for mainland Spain. Tour operators will cancel package holidays for destinations where such FCO advice applies.
Nick Trend, Telegraph Travel’s chief consumer editor, offers the latest guidance for those with a holiday booked to Spain, including:
See his advice.
Blanket quarantine for Spain ‘smacks of panic,’ says travel boss
Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency and spokesman for Quash Quarantine (a group of 400 travel and hospitality businesses that opposed the Government’s blanket quarantine rules), told Telegraph Travel:
This blanket Spanish quarantine smacks of panic, especially with just four hour’s notice. Measures like this are not only unenforceable but also financially damaging to consumers and travel firms alike. Public Health England should either be advising on a regional-only quarantine for those in Catalonia or improving the UK’s test & trace system which would be far more effective.
Many airlines and tour operators were banking on the volume of Spanish holidays in August to help them survive the late summer, and get much-needed late booking revenue. This move is a hammerblow to the sector that many won’t be able to recover from. Sadly a torrent of job losses and business failures, exacerbated by the lack of Spanish visitors to the U.K., is now inevitable.
Europe’s largest tour operator cancels Spanish holidays
TUI, Europe’s largest tour operator, has cancelled Spanish holiday bookings following the UK Government’s announcement that quarantine measures would be reimpose for travel from Spain.
Andrew Flintham, managing director TUI UK & Ireland, said:
Due to the late announcement on Saturday 25th July from the UK Government regarding the change to travel advice for Spain, we have cancelled all flights due to depart to mainland Spain and the Canary Islands on Sunday 26th July. We will proactively contact all customers to either arrange a full refund or the option to rebook their holiday with a booking incentive. All customers currently on holiday can continue to enjoy their holiday and will return on their intended flight home.
We’re incredibly disappointed that we didn’t get more notice of this announcement, or that this decision wasn’t made yesterday, as many Brits travel on holiday at the weekend.
We also look to understand why quarantine has been issued for a whole country, including the Canary Islands and Balearic Islands, when the travel advice isn’t aligned (only applying to mainland Spain). It demonstrates why clear regional travel corridors need to be considered.
The health and safety of our customers and colleagues is always our highest priority and welcome travel advice that protects those that holiday with us. However, the UK Government must work closely with the travel industry as this level of uncertainty and confusion is damaging for business and disappointing for those looking forward to a well-deserved break.
What happened yesterday?
Tourists must quarantine on return home from Spain
Holidaymakers offered fast track passports by Home Office
Catalonia tightens restrictions amid fears of second wave
Emirates to offer free Covid-19 travel insurance to all passengers
Police turn 60 motorists away from Snowdon