Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the Government will not apologise for reimposing strict quarantine rules at short notice on travellers returning from Spain.
Ministers announced on Saturday, July 25, that holidaymakers who had not returned from Spain and its islands by midnight would be forced to quarantine for 14 days after Covid-19 second wave fears saw the European country struck off the UK’s safe list.
So what does that mean for holidaymakers who had planned a trip to Spain or those already in the country?
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When will holidaymakers have to self-isolate?
The measure came into effect from midnight on Saturday, July 25, meaning that from today (Sunday, July 26) all returning travellers will have to quarantine themselves for 14 days.
It applies to people returning to any of the four nations of the UK – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Why has the quarantine been imposed?
The Government said the move follows a “significant change” over the last week in both the level and pace of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Spain.
The country has reported more than 900 new daily infections for the past two days.
Catalonia became the latest region to crack down on nightlife, trying to halt new infection clusters.
The wealthy north-east region – home to Barcelona – ordered all nightclubs to close for 15 days and put a midnight curfew on bars in the greater Barcelona area and other towns around Lleida that have become contagion hot zones.
What should people do if they are already in Spain?
People currently on holiday in Spain have been encouraged to follow the local rules, return home as normal and check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s (FCO) travel advice pages on gov.uk for further information.
The FCO is not advising those already travelling in Spain to leave.
Abta – the UK’s travel trade association – has advised customers in the country to continue their holidays and return as normal.
What should holidaymakers do if they have a trip to Spain booked?
The FCO is advising against all but essential travel to mainland Spain.
Holiday operator Tui has said it will cancel all planned holidays to Spain in response to the announcement and customers will be contacted to discuss options.
Abta has advised customers due to travel to the country imminently to contact their travel provider.
Meanwhile, airline easyJet said it planned to operate its full schedule in the coming days.
Does the quarantine apply if the holidaymaker has been to a Spanish island?
Quarantine measures will apply to those returning from mainland Spain, the Canary Islands (Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro and La Graciosa) and the Balearic Islands, such as Majorca and Ibiza, the Department for Transport confirmed.
What will happen with travel insurance?
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has said it is “likely” that travel insurance will remain in place for holidaymakers already in Spain until they return home.
However, those attempting to travel to countries against FCO advice would invalidate their travel insurance.
The ABI said people who booked a trip or took out travel insurance after Covid-19 was declared a pandemic may not be covered for travel disruption or cancellation. In either circumstance, travellers should check with their insurer.
What about employers whose employees have to go into quarantine?
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said no worker following quarantine guidance should be penalised by employers, including by being put onto sick pay.
He said that if someone is following the law in relation to quarantine and self-isolating, “they can’t have penalties taken against them”.
Labour wants the Government to do more to help quarantining employees.