Travel quarantine rules have changed once again in a move that will devastate thousands of Britons and the travel and tourism industry. Now, travellers returning from Spain to any part of the UK will face quarantine rules from midnight tonight, according to the Department for Transport. The Government said the quarantine rules would apply to people returning from anywhere in Spain which includes the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands such as Majorca and Ibiza.
And now airlines, who have been hit the particularly hard by the coronavirus pandemic, have had their say on Spain being removed from the “air bridge” list.
Airlines UK, the industry association representing UK-registered carriers, said in a statement that public health must remain a priority.
It said: “The advice is clear that people already in Spain should return home as per normal and check the FCO travel pages.
“Public health must be the priority but this shows why regional travel corridors need to be considered, so that travel to safe parts of a red country can continue.
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“We also need to see the introduction of testing at UK airports so that those who are Covid negative can continue to travel without the need to self-isolate upon arrival. We will continue to work closely with Government to protect public health whilst keeping air travel and the wider economy open.”
A spokesperson for the Association of British Travel Agents (Abta) said: “Spain is British holidaymakers’ most popular destination attracting over 18 million of us each year, and the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) advising against all but essential travel to the mainland will be disappointing to British holidaymakers and the industry alike.
“ABTA has said consistently that protecting public health must be the priority at this time, and it is vital to base decisions about travel on the best health and scientific advice.”
However, they also said that they think the government should lift the quarantine rules for the Canary Islands and the Balearics.
“We suggest the Government considers lifting the quarantine rules for flights to and from certain regions with lower infection rates, or to places such as the Balearic Islands or The Canaries – which are geographically distinct from mainland Spain – to avoid further damage to the UK inbound and outbound tourism industries.”
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The holiday operator and airline TUI announced it would cancel all planned holidays to Spain in response to the announcement.
Every customer already in the country will be “proactively contacted to discuss their options,” according to a spokesman.
They continued: “As per our TUI Holiday Promise, we won’t take customers on holiday if we know they’re required to quarantine on arrival or on their return home.
“If a customer’s holiday can’t go ahead due to COVID-19, they’ll have the option to receive a refund credit note for the full value of their holiday or a cash refund.”
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British Airways said the Government’s change to travel quarantine rules in relation to Spain were “yet another blow for British holidaymakers”.
In a statement, the airline said: “While our flights continue to operate, we are disappointed that the Government is now advising against all but essential travel to mainland Spain and re-introducing quarantine for holidaymakers returning from Spain with immediate effect, throwing thousands of Britons’ travel plans into chaos.
“This is sadly yet another blow for British holidaymakers and cannot fail to have an impact on an already troubled aviation industry.”
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Budget airline easyJet said it planned to operate its full schedule in the coming days.
A spokeswoman said: “Customers who no longer wish to travel can transfer their flights without a change fee or receive a voucher for the value of the booking.
“Should any flights be cancelled for later in August customers will be notified and informed of their options which includes transferring to an alternative flight free of charge, receiving a voucher or applying for a refund.”