Holidaymakers left 'shocked and confused' over Spain travel rules change

26 July 2020, 08:20

By Maddie Goodfellow

Holidaymakers have been left "shocked and confused" after ministers removed Spain from the Government's travel corridor exemption list following a rise in Covid-19 cases in the country.

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.

The quarantine applies to people returning to any of the four nations - England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises people should avoid all but essential travel to mainland Spain. However, they exclude the Canary and Balearic islands.

Read more: How will the changes affect my travel plans?

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.

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".

Chloe Harris, 23 from Kent, booked a last-minute trip to Lanzarote and arrived on the Spanish island this morning.

She said: "At the moment we are just waiting to hear whether the quarantine will affect the Spanish islands or if it is just going to be the mainland.

"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.

"We only booked the trip on Wednesday and we are only here for a few days. 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."

Passengers arriving to Gatwick Airport from Spain on Sunday morning expressed their frustration at the change to travel quarantine rules.

Those disembarking from a flight from Barcelona that landed shortly before 9am now face two weeks of self-isolation.

Philip Bradby, 55, and Marina Wilson, 40, from Bournemouth, said they had returned from holiday early due to the shut down of the travel corridor with Spain.

"I think it's quite poor that they did it so instantaneously," Mr Bradby said.

Ms Wilson, who has a nine-year-old daughter, commented: "They basically changed the rules halfway through which puts us in a very awkward position and lot's of things to arrange."

Jill Witte, 53, arriving back in the country with her two daughters and husband, said the quarantine rule changes would "massively" inconvenience the family.

"We were shocked, it didn't look like that was coming, otherwise we wouldn't have gone," she said.

Another 24-year-old traveller from Surrey, who only gave her name as Hannah, said the rule change would affect family plans and her work.

"We were supposed to return work at the beginning of August, so I'm now going to have to stay away again for another week," she said.

Self-employed roofer Malcolm Bembridge told of his frustration at the news he would have to quarantine for two weeks after his one-week holiday in Spain because he "needs to go back to work".

He is flying home to Birmingham from Almeria on Sunday and said he has ordered a Covid test.

He said: "If I do the test and it comes back negative, then does that mean I can resume work or do I need to self isolate?"

He said he was hoping to employ someone to do the work he had scheduled but was frustrated at the money he would lose because of the need to self-isolate.

"It is bad timing because most people travel this time of year with kids as schools break up," he said.

"Why don't the Government do testing at the airports?"

Spain has been removed from the UK 'safe list'
Spain has been removed from the UK 'safe list'. Picture: PA
Police have been patrolling Spanish beaches
Police have been patrolling Spanish beaches. Picture: PA
Spain has seen its coronavirus cases rise
Spain has seen its coronavirus cases rise. Picture: PA

However, there has been relief for holidaymakers who have just returned from Spain.

Sarah arrived back into the UK just hours before the midnight rules change.

She told LBC News: "I consider myself incredibly lucky to have come back when I did because I'd also considered booking the flight for the Sunday as they were both the same price."

Rory Boland, editor of consumer magazine Which? Travel, said: "Many holidaymakers will be deeply angry that the Government didn't make this decision 48 hours ago, before tens of thousands of them flew off for their summer holidays in Spain.

"Many would not have travelled if they had known they'd face 14 days of quarantine on their return."

He added: "The Government must give urgent clarity on whether it will be updating its FCO advice on travel to Spain, as this will have a more serious impact and may require tour operators to bring holidaymakers home early at a time when they are already under huge financial strain.

"For those with future bookings to Spain, many tour operators are now likely to cancel holidays.

"People may want to support their holiday company by accepting a refund credit note or rebooking for a later date, but it's important operators make clear any drawbacks.

"Customers have the legal right to a cash refund if their package holiday is cancelled."