The Brits who’s life has been turned upside down overnight : International de Inglaterra
Furious Britons flooding back from Spain today told how they faced economic hardship following the last-minute addition of the country to the UK’s quarantine list while they were on holiday.
Downing Street said British holidaymakers who miss out on work due to the newly-imposed quarantine period may be eligible for Universal Credit or employment support allowance of up to £74.35 a week, but not statutory sick pay.
But employers are under no obligation to pay staff while they are in quarantine, self-employed workers will be forced to give up jobs and some people could even face the sack if they have to isolate when returning home.
The Government also warned ‘no travel is risk-free’ – and said workers who lose their jobs because they are quarantining after returning from Spain could appeal to the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas).
There are also fears more European holidays could be thrown into disarray amid mass uncertainty this summer, with the Spain decision said to have spooked UK holidaymakers who had booked trips in France, Italy and Greece.
Among the unhappy Britons arriving at Manchester Airport from Spain today was Joanne Jackson, 49, who had just returned from a two-week break in Nerja and said she has now lost £2,000 in wages due to the quarantine.
The care worker from Manchester said: ‘It is a ridiculous decision and disgraceful one. Everyone abroad should have been given two weeks’ notice, not just a few hours. Thanks to the Government, I have lost £2,000 in wages. Who is going to pay my wages? Who is going to pay my mortgage and bills? What will I do for money?
‘Where I have been staying, the infection rate is zero. The government should make people who are returning from high-risk areas quarantine, and not put a blanket-ban on the whole of Spain. I am absolutely livid that I now have to quarantine. I’ll be back over in Spain soon. It won’t stop me flying.’
The decision to enforce a 14-day quarantine was imposed with five hours’ notice and left tens of thousands of tourists unable to return home before it kicked in. More than 600,000 British holidaymakers were estimated to either have been in Spain or booked to go when the change was made on Saturday night.
The Spanish government and international tourist operators have also criticised the decision, with the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the airline industry’s main global body, saying it ‘does not accurately reflect the risk of a regional spike in one corner of the country’.
It comes as:
Employment barrister Grahame Anderson said: ‘If you come back from Spain today and your boss says you’ve got to be in work on Monday, there’s not a great deal you can do if they say ‘well if you don’t come in, I’m not going to pay you’. If you haven’t been there for two years, you’ve got very little protection against being dismissed as well.’
Also arriving at Manchester Airport from Spain today was Max Jury, 26, from Clitheroe, Lancashire, who owns an energy grants company. He said: ‘It’s is annoying that I have to quarantine for 14 days but I understand why.
‘They are just trying to control things and fix the problem. I’m not too bad work-wise because I can work from home for the next two weeks.’
Can your employer refuse to pay you if you have to quarantine?
Legal experts have warned some people could lose pay or even face the sack if they have to quarantine when returning home.
They said it was important people know about the lack of employment protections they have if they follow the rules imposed by the Government.
The government has advised those that find themselves unable to work and without pay because of the change in quarantine rules to apply for Employment Support Allowance or Universal Credit.
Employment Support Allowance is government benefits paid if disability or health condition that affects how much you can work. It can be claimed by people self isolating because of coronavirus.
Employment barrister Grahame Anderson said: ‘If you are somebody who was come back from Spain today and your boss says you have got to be in work on Monday, there’s not a great deal you can do if they say ‘well if you don’t come in, I’m not going to pay you’.
‘And if you haven’t been there for two years, you’ve got very little protection against being dismissed as well.’
HR consultant Roisin Williuams added: ‘Changing the SSP statutory instrument a few months back to allow for self isolation – ie when not actually ill oneself – took weeks and weeks.
‘Changing again because of travel rules is anything but simple I’m afraid. Our existing employment rights simply do not accommodate Covid.’
She continued: ‘Prior to Covid, Satutory Sick Pay (SSP) was only payable if unable to work because of actual illness, not to avoid getting ill, or to protect others from getting ill or because mandated by PHE or NHS. SSP rules simply did not allow for Covid circumstances.’
The official UK Government website states: ‘You cannot get SSP if you’re self-isolating after entering or returning to the UK and do not need to self-isolate for any other reason.’
However it says that you can claim statutory sick pay of £95.85 per week for up to 28 weeks if you a) are self-isolating because you or someone you live with has coronavirus symptoms; b) have been notified by the NHS or public health authorities that you’ve come into contact with someone with coronavirus; or c) ‘shielding’ at home because you are at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus.
Mr Jury, who had been on a four-day trip to Barcelona, added: ‘The online form is pretty straightforward to complete. They just want your contact details and where you’re going to be living.
‘Quite a few people hadn’t filled them in so there was quite a long queue at immigration.
Hayley Frost, 23, from Manchester, had been out in Barcelona since Tuesday. The editorial assistant said: ‘I’m upset because now I have to quarantine.
‘I was supposed to come back on Friday but I got food poisoning and had to stay longer. If I’d have return when I was supposed to, I’d have been OK.
‘Work don’t even know that I’ve been to Spain. I took a week off and then decided to go. I’m going to have to tell them now.
‘We were starting to go back into the office to to work but now I’ll have to work from home for the next two weeks.’
Amanda Thompson, 47, and her son, Finley, 12, are in the UK for a month. Ms Thompson, who lives In Barcelona, said: ‘I think it is disgusting.
‘The UK government has handled this all wrong. My friends have been contacting me saying that Barcelona is in complete lockdown and that is not true.
‘The government has dealt with this incorrectly and handled it badly from start to finish. Fortunately, I’m back here to renovate a house, so it won’t be too bad.’
Chris Gibbs, 39, from Prestatyn, owns a building company. He had just returned from a four-day golfing trip. He said: ‘I can’t go to work now because I have to quarantine.
‘I have an extension at a house that needs completing and the house is exposed at the back. Now I can’t go back to working on it and will have to tell the owners the work will be delayed.
‘I am very annoyed and thought about driving to France to avoid this. The Spanish authorities are saying that all this is unnecessary and outbreak isn’t really bad.
‘I live on my own so I can go shopping during quarantine but that’s it. And because I’m self-employed I won’t be earning any money.’
Phil Royle, 57, a print manager from St Helens, had just returned from Malaga. He said: ‘It’s an absolute disaster.
‘From what I understand I can still fly to America where thousands of people are dying without any restrictions but I have to quarantine from Spain where the infection rate is less.
‘I felt much safer over there than I do here. Work can organise a test and I can test negative but I still have to quarantine.
‘I’ve worked all the way through and was looking forward to this holiday and now I feel flat. ‘It has put a damper on the whole trip.’
Gabrielle Mottersley, a creative manager from Manchester, had returned from Malaga. She said: ‘It is a really terrible way of finishing the holiday.
Police have fined just one person for a travel quarantine breach
Just one person has been fined by police for breaching quarantine rules after arriving from abroad, new figures from forces in England and Wales show.
The data released by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) on Monday comes after holidaymakers in Spain and its islands were told they would have to self-isolate for 14 days when returning to the UK.
It does not include fines issued by UK Border Force, which had issued three penalties by July 10, when quarantine rules for people returning to or visiting the UK from a list of countries were relaxed.
NPCC chairman Martin Hewitt said enforcement of the regulations, breaches of which can be punished with fines of between £100 and £1,000, is primarily a matter for Border Force and public health officials.
He said compliance with the rules had been good, but added ‘it’s really difficult to understand how people will re-spond’ after Spain was removed from the UK’s list of safe destinations over a spike in the number of coronavirus cases.
‘You would hope that people would come back and be responsible,’ he said.
‘I would hope they would be, but we will be in a position to carry out the role that we have in this, which is a second-ary role to both the border force and Public Health England, as we are required to do so.
‘But I guess time will tell how that plays through.
‘And of course, you know it’s not inconceivable that this could happen with other countries as we move forward, and I think the Government has made clear about that as well, so we will monitor that and work through the process.’
The ticket for breaching quarantine rules, which was issued by Lincolnshire Police, was one of only eight fixed penalty notices handed out in England in the two weeks to July 20, with none in Wales.
Some six of the fines were handed to people who failed to wear face coverings on public transport, making a total of 32 under the regulations introduced on June 15.
Passengers caught not complying with the regulations can be fined £100 and removed from services.
The other fine in the latest two-week period was issued by Northamptonshire Police for a breach of rules around gath-erings.
Figures are not yet available for breaches of regulations introduced on Friday making it compulsory for most people to wear face coverings in shops.
But Mr Hewitt said: ‘I certainly, in my trawl around how the weekend has gone, have heard of no instances around particular issues in shops. I’m not aware of any fines having been issued.’
A total of 18,669 fixed-penalty notices (FPNs), including 16,029 in England and 2,640 in Wales, have been recorded by forces up to July 20.
The NPCC said the figures do not include fines issued during the local Leicester lockdown.
‘The whole procedure is an absolute shambles. But the way the government has handled it all the way through has been awful, too.
‘There has been no consistency and procedures have been switched all the time without much notice.
‘I just feel so let down. I also feel really sorry for the business owners out there who have tried really hard to make it as safe as possible. I work from home so I’m OK from that perspective.’
Meanwhile holidaymakers arriving at London Stansted Airport from Spain today said they had been let down by the Government and the shock collapse of the air bridge.
Furious arrivals claimed Spain was safer than Britain and fumed about the sudden change in position.
Amongst the arrivals were young couple Harry Priestner, 24 and Meg Day, 23, who said it put a sour ending to their first romantic holiday together.
Mr Priestner had been furloughed from his job in recruitment and fears what could happen if he is asked to come back in.
He said: ‘To be honest I’m disappointed, we wouldn’t have gone on holiday if we knew we were going to get stuck in quarantine.
‘Not only that we have gone from a lockdown where we were allowed to exercise to a stricter one.
‘We can’t leave for a dog walk, can’t exercise. This was our first holiday together, it was lovely and I’m glad we went but it has certainly put a bit of a sad turn on the end of a nice holiday.
‘Now we have to be locked inside for two weeks, I’m on furlough and I don’t know when I’m going back to work. If I suddenly get pulled back in, I’m going to have to turn around and say I can’t come back.
The Londoner added: ‘We only went on the basis it was an air bridge and then suddenly out of nowhere it got announced.
‘We are going to try and be positive, but it is a bit of a shock – there’s nothing we can do about it. I feel let down by the Government, we only went because we were allowed to go.
‘Would we have gone for a four day holiday if we knew everything we had planned to do for the next two weeks would be cancelled -absolutely not, it’s not worth it.’
Meg added: ‘I’m a bit annoyed, and let down.’
And another traveller says he was forced to leave his wife and kids in Spain so he could return home and start isolating so he didn’t miss work.
The engineering manager, from Colchester, Essex said: ‘I’ll guess I’ll find out what it means for work. I left my kids and wife out there and cut my holiday short to isolate, it’s unfortunate I have to do it.
‘It’s annoying as places in Spain with rising cases are happening in pockets and I was 1,000 miles away from there.
‘I think the Spanish are much better on social distancing and taking the measures than here. Police were on the beaches, there wasn’t too many people there, there was no Bournemouth there.’
Alex Waters, 20, and Leia Walker, 21, from Stansted, Essex, were also livid with the decision after arriving from Majorca.
Ms Walker said: ‘We are a bit annoyed and p***ed off. The conditions are so much better than here. We looked at flights to potentially come back earlier to self-isolate, but there was nothing – there was no chance to even think about it.
‘It is a bit gutting, were hoping there will be some kind of dispensation for the Balearics as the cases are so low.
‘We can work from home, but we’ve just started to come back to work and now we have to take back another two weeks before we can return again.
Mr Waters added: ‘We have been going into London every day for work and we were in Majorca and the social distancing was so much better. ‘All restaurants had hand sanitiser and everyone followed social distancing.’
Phil Gander, 48, from Buckinghamshire, echoed their confusion. He said: ‘It’s shocking in a way, it could have happened 48 hours before and I wouldn’t have gone out there.
Pet cat becomes first animal in the UK to get Covid-19 after catching the virus from its owners
A pet cat has become the first animal in the UK to be diagnosed with Covid-19, it was revealed today.
Officials in believe the cat — which wasn’t identified — caught the coronavirus from its owners and ‘not the other way round’.
Downing Street said the feline, from England, had shown respiratory symptoms including shortness of breath.
Both the cat and its owners have made a full recovery and there was no transmission of the virus to other animals or people in the household, health bosses said.
Experts have warned people to avoid cuddling their pets if they have the virus. They also advise keeping cats indoors so there is zero risk they can spread germs around a neighbourhood.
It is not the first time an animal has tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 in humans.
The first dog in the world to catch coronavirus died after it was declared disease-free and returned home to its owner in Hong Kong.
The 17-year-old Pomeranian, whose owner caught Covid-19, had been quarantined at a government facility but returned home over the weekend.
The cat was confirmed to have the virus after being tested at the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) laboratory in Weybridge last Wednesday.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘The test was carried out by the Animal and Plant Health Agency laboratory having been referred by a private vet who the owners had taken the cat to see.
‘Its symptoms were a respiratory infection with a nasal discharge and some shortness of breath.’
Health officials said there is no evidence to suggest that the animal was involved in transmission of the disease to its owners.
And they added that there is also no proof that pets or other domestic animals are able to transmit the virus to people.
The advice from Public Health England is for people to wash their hands regularly, including before and after contact with animals.
‘I felt fine out there, it was very relaxed out there. If you had your mask on you were fine.
‘It’s annoying as I have been isolating for four months and were back to it, but as long as I take precautions I should be fine.’
Married couple Kevin and Amanda Barker, from Bishop’s Stortford, agreed with Mr Gander. Mr Barker, 56, said: ‘It hasn’t been very well flagged, I feel let down by the Government.
‘They seem to have acted very differently from other Governments and taken a much harsher route.
‘We have arrived from Alicante and there are very few instances of Covid over there, it seems a very harsh approach.’ Mrs Barker, 55, added: ‘I felt very safe over there.’
Carer Zoe Pett, 19, was returning from a family holiday and says she will now be unable to work for a week.
She said: ‘I can’t go back to work and I think I’m going to have to wait for a test, but we will have to wait now due to the incubation period.
‘I’m a bit livid really, we had a nice time – it was worth it really. I work part-time in a care home helping old people.
‘I’m a bit annoyed I can’t go to work, but I don’t want to put them at risk. I wouldn’t feel comfortable going back in.’
Among the victims is a British tourist in Spain who runs the UK charity Mask Our Heroes which provides personal protective equipment to frontline workers.
Emily Woods told ITV’s This Morning: ‘We came out Thursday. We were checking government guidelines and there was no sign of restrictions being imposed.
‘We travelled very safely and I know a lot about PPE – I run a PPE charity. We were picked up at the airport and we were taken to our friend’s villa and we were faced with being in lockdown for two weeks. This will restrict the work I’m doing.’
Self-employed IT technician Nick Madeley, 41, who is returning from Majorca to East Midlands Airport today, said he was having to pay contractors to take on his jobs because he will no longer be able to complete them while in quarantine.
Mr Madeley, of Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, has been on holiday with his wife Alison, 49, and five-year-old daughter Ellie.
He told MailOnline that the family had a holiday cancelled to Madeira so we followed Foreign Office advice and changed to Santa Ponsa in Majorca knowing they would not have to isolate upon return.
Mr Madeley said: ‘We’ve all had a great holiday and also stuck to the rules regarding face masks and sanitisation and we have felt very safe.
‘But it’s my daughter I feel sorry for. Having gone through lockdown stuck at home patiently abiding by the lockdown rules, then slowly getting back into school, this holiday was our little bit of normality that we’ve worked hard for.
‘And now we all have to quarantine and lose out on another two weeks summer holidays where she can’t go out and do things we were planning on doing.’
He added: ‘I am self-employed and I am due back into work the day after we get back. Now I cannot and have been seeking other contractors since the announcement to complete my work now, at my expense, whilst I will be in quarantine.
Spain calls for its low-infection islands to be DROPPED from UK quarantine list amid fury at contradictory government advice that only includes mainland
Spain today called on the UK Government to drop the Spanish islands from its quarantine list after British tourists were told they can travel there but must still go into 14-day isolation upon returning home.
Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office has advised UK travellers against all non-essential travel including holidays to mainland Spain.
But this does not apply to the Canary Islands – Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro and La Graciosa – and the Balearic Islands – Majorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera.
However, people returning from anywhere in Spain – including the Canaries and Balearics – are now required to go into 14 day quarantine on return.
Ministers in the UK Government are now said to be considering giving the Canaries and Balearics an exemption, but this could still be one week away.
The Spanish government and Britain’s travel industry trade body, the Association of British Travel Agents, argue it is not necessary for the Canaries and Balearics to be included in the quarantine, pointing out that infection rates on these islands are low.
Abta has told the Government to ‘consider’ changing the rules, while Spain’s Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya is trying to convince Britain to exclude the Balearics and Canaries, saying: ‘Spain is safe, it is safe for Spaniards, it is safe for tourists.’
But one British tourist tested positive for Covid-19 in Lanzarote last week, and the UK Government fears that if the islands were exempt this could allow a loophole in the system.
In theory, someone on holiday in Spain could fly home via Majorca and avoid quarantine.
A Whitehall source close to discussions on whether to give the Canaries and Balearics an exemption told The Sun today: ‘They are considering an exemption to the Balearic and Canary Islands. Their rates are lower so it may be on the cards.
‘But the announcement may not come until the weekly review. There has been some debate as to whether they should be included as there is a lot of traffic between the mainland and the islands, and that’s where the issue is.’
‘I didn’t take the decision lightly to go abroad and could have quite easily had a refund, but that wouldn’t help our economy like the Government want us to do.
‘Now I feel like we’re being penalised for it. I understand we have to react to outbreaks, but the whole of the UK isn’t out of bounds to people travelling in just because of Leicester etc.’
Among those concerned about an upcoming holiday to Spain is Lauren Hall, who told MailOnline: ‘We are yet to travel on our holiday but we are facing the issue that neither of us can go into self-isolation when we return due to our work commitments.
‘But as our holiday is off the mainland our holiday can still go ahead so we are forced between the decision of not going on holiday and lose the money we paid… or go on holiday and lose two weeks of wages when we return. ‘
Another tourist, Jan Keegan, told MailOnline she returned with her family from the Canary Islands last night and is ‘extremely frustrated’ at the quarantine.
She said: ‘Overnight it went from mainland Spain to the Canaries, which seems crazy as their cases are so low.
‘It doesn’t impact so much on me as I am a key worker working from home but my husband is a HGV driver and has only just returned to work after being furloughed.
‘We would not have gone away knowing about the quarantine as we are unsure how this will impact on my husband’s wage and of course the inconvenience to the firm he works for. We are praying they revise the quarantine for the Balearics and the Canaries. ‘
Tony and Yolanda Schofield, from Leamington Spa, flew into Heathrow Airport from Madrid this morning. The couple flew to Spain from Mexico, where they had been self-isolating for eight weeks, Mr Schofield said.
‘We were surprised at the final bit of having to quarantine from Spain, although we knew we would have to, coming back from Mexico,’ he said. ‘It has been very smooth, very easy.’
Asked about the two-week quarantine, Mr Schofield called it ‘necessary’.
Mrs Schofield added: ‘For us it’s OK because we don’t have to go to work. We’ve kind of planned it really to do that, and we’ve got somewhere to quarantine.’
Laura Martin, an au pair who lives in London, is unable to return to work for 14 days due to the quarantine on arrivals from Spain.
The 27-year-old flew into Heathrow Airport from Madrid, where she was visiting friends and family. ‘The quarantine is not a problem. I think it’s just for people’s safety,’ she said.
She said, although the family she works as an au pair for looked at ‘other solutions, like a hostel’, she will spend the two weeks self-isolating with a friend.
One woman, flying to Madrid from Heathrow Airport to visit friends for two days, said she felt ‘horrible’ about the prospect of having to quarantine for two weeks on her return.
Giving her name only as Maria, she said: ‘I feel horrible. I get it’s for safety and everything, but if people are already taking measures then I think it’s so much of a hassle.
‘I’m going to be there for just two nights, barely three days, so it’s not even a long time.’
The woman, who works in business and is from Reading, says she will work from home when she returns, adding: ‘If it would have affected my work, I would have to cancel the flight full stop.’
One woman flying into Heathrow Airport from Spain today said the two-week quarantine was ‘frustrating’ but ‘it is what it is’.
Michelle Pattison, from London, said she was three days into her holiday in Costa Brava, to the north-east of Barcelona, when the quarantine was imposed.
‘(I’m) happy to do it because that’s what we need to do,’ the 47-year-old said.
‘It is frustrating because you had plans and things like that, and the fact that it changed while we were there, but it is what it is.’
Ryanair announces a £168m loss and says ‘a second wave of coronavirus across Europe is our biggest fear’ – but vows to keep flying from the UK to Spain
Ryanair today revealed losses of £168million during the coronavirus pandemic but insisted it will continue flying to Spain after UK tourists were told not to travel there.
The low-cost airline, like its competitors, was forced to ground its fleet as Covid-19 wreaked havoc on timetables, with travel bans and lockdowns introduced worldwide.
Ryanair said it suffered the ‘most challenging’ quarter in its 35-year history after carrying 500,000 passengers from April to June compared with 41.9million in the same period last year.
Its share price fell eight per cent in early trading this morning.
Meanwhile, revenue collapsed from £2.1billion to £113million, with the Dublin-based carrier saying said a second wave of the disease was now its ‘biggest fear’.
But chief financial officer Neil Sorahan told BBC Radio 4 today that it would not cut flights to Spain, saying: ‘As things stand, the market remains open, the schedules remain in place and we continue to operate in and out of Spain as normal.’
Speaking about the UK government advising against non-essential travel to Spain due to coronavirus, he told Reuters: ‘I think it is regrettable, very disappointing.
‘I have no doubt that we will see other localised outbreaks and we need to be flexible enough to deal with them as they arise over the next number of weeks and months.’
He added that the Spanish government has made clear that the country remained open for tourists, with infection levels low in much of the country.
A Ryanair spokesman said: ‘The past quarter was the most challenging in Ryanair’s 35-year history.
‘Covid-19 grounded the group’s fleet for almost four months (from mid-March to end June) as EU governments imposed flight or travel bans and widespread population lockdowns.
‘During this time, group airlines repatriated customers and operated rescue flights for different EU governments, as well as flying a series of medical emergency/PPE flights across Europe.’
Flights were resumed on July 1, and the company said it aimed to operate around 40 per cent of its normal July schedule, increasing to 60 per cent in August and 70 per cent in September.
Ryanair Holdings plc said it expected air travel to be depressed in Europe for the next two to three years, adding: ‘This will create opportunities for Ryanair to grow its network, and expand its fleet, to take advantage of lower airport and aircraft cost opportunities that will inevitably arise.’
It added that it could not provide any guidance for profits in this financial year, but added that it expected to carry 60million passengers this year.
Ms Pattison said she would work from home for the two weeks, as she had been prior to her holiday.
Celia Gonzalez said it was a ‘risk’ going on holiday during a pandemic, as she arrived at Heathrow Airport from Madrid this afternoon.
The sales manager, who lives in London, said she had spent almost a month in Spain visiting family.
Asked if she thought the quarantine period would be inconvenient, the 30-year-old said: ‘Not really, because I’m still on furlough.
‘People are upset because they were on holiday, but you take the risk when you travel in the middle of a pandemic anyway.
‘We were lucky enough not to have a quarantine for whatever reason, whatever agreement with the Government, but if it changes, it changes.’
One student flying into Heathrow Airport from Madrid said the quarantine was ‘really bad timing’, as he flew out to Spain for the weekend on Friday.
Dominic, who declined to give his last name, said: ‘It was really bad timing. I found out on Saturday night, but by that point it had already come into force, so there wasn’t enough time to do anything.’
The University of Exeter student added: ‘I saw my friends, so it was a good time. Two weeks at home, I suppose it’s not too bad.’
Today, Downing Street appeared to sow more confusion among British holidaymakers and travel firms after warning ‘no travel is risk-free’ amid fears of a wave of cancellations sparked by a shock U-turn on quarantine for arrivals from Spain.
No 10 was unable to provide reassurances that the decision to subject arrivals from the popular holiday destination to 14 days in isolation – having previously cleared them to bypass the health restriction- would not be expanded to other countries with a coronavirus spike.
The Spain decision, which gave holidaymakers five hours’ notice on Saturday, is believed to have spooked many people who had booked trips in France , Italy and Greece with operators already reporting ‘lots of cancellations’.
This morning the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘Decisions on border measures and travel advice can be changed rapidly if necessary to help stop the spread of the disease.
‘Unfortunately no travel is risk-free during this pandemic and disruption is possible and so anyone travelling abroad should be aware that our travel advice and exemption list is under constant review as we monitor the international situation.’
The Government has stood by its decision to strike Spain off the UK’s list of safe destinations but the timing of the shift has sparked widespread fury amid fears it will be the ‘final nail in the coffin’ for some tourism firms.
But travel firms said reimposing quarantine on Spanish travellers had ‘put fear into people’ as they warned the ‘rug has been pulled from under our feet’. Other experts said the Government had effectively pushed the ‘nuclear button’, putting at risk the entire foreign summer holiday season.
Health Minister Helen Whately today risked adding to the growing uncertainty over whether people should book foreign holidays as she suggested that ultimately holidaymakers will have to make their own judgements on whether it is a good idea to travel.
She said people hoping to go abroad will have to ‘look very carefully’ at the official Government advice and then ‘weigh up the risks’.
The Foreign Office is now advising against ‘all non-essential travel to mainland Spain’ but the Canary and Balearic islands are currently exempt from the ban. However, the ‘blanket’ quarantine rules apply to the whole of Spain, including those islands, prompting suggestions that the current guidance is confused.
Passengers continued to fly to and return from Spain at Belfast Airport today following the quarantine announcement at the weekend.
Northern Ireland’s Health Minister Robin Swann said those returning from Spain must observe a 14-day quarantine, following similar moves across the rest of the UK.
Edith Mikutenaite and Aleksanda Sabalina, from Newtownabbey, Co Antrim, who returned from Barcelona today, described the news of having to quarantine following a three-night trip as ‘horrible’.
‘It ruined the whole holiday,’ said Ms Sabalina.
‘We did not expect that at all, we thought the announcement would be made on Monday or at least some sort of notice for people who had already left without knowing there was going to be a quarantine to ensure they had any work issues sorted out.’
Ms Mikutenaite said: ‘It is totally unfair – we only went away for three days and now we are going to be stuck for 14 days at home.’
They said they have informed their employers that they travelled but need to discuss further their quarantine arrangements.
Downing Street tells travellers hit by Spain quarantine chaos to claim Universal Credit
Downing Street said holidaymakers who miss out on work because of quarantine may be eligible for Universal Credit or employment support allowance but not statutory sick pay.
The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman reiterated that the Government expects employers to be ‘flexible’ in allowing staff to work from home while self-isolating if they have just returned from Spain.
‘Where this isn’t possible we would expect that many employers would have their own policies in place for quarantine and we know that some continue to offer full pay for all or some of the isolation period,’ he added.
‘But if there are people who need urgent support then they may be entitled to the new-style employment support allowance or Universal Credit.’
Pressed on whether ministers would review statutory sick pay eligibility, the spokesman said: ‘We always keep our response to the pandemic under review and we regularly assess the support available but there is support available for those in need.’
‘We don’t know how this is going to affect work,’ Ms Mikutenaite said. ‘Our children now have nothing to do and nowhere to go for the next two weeks just because we went on a short trip,’ Ms Sabalina added.
Christopher Halliday, from Belfast, was visiting his mother in Barcelona.
‘Everything in Barcelona was very safe, everyone was wearing face masks, to be honest I think they are ahead of us in terms of safety, so I just don’t understand this decision they have made,’ he said.
‘We were over for a week, we hadn’t seen my mother in over a year. We were going to stay an extra week but we weren’t sure what the situation was going to be so we came home today.’
Joe Allen, a TV producer from London who visited Madrid and returned on Sunday, said he felt let down by the lack of information to travellers about the ‘knee-jerk’ decision.
Mr Allen said: ‘We waited for the appropriate time and I specifically waited for the quarantine to have been lifted from Spain, and I absolutely wouldn’t have gone with a quarantine.
‘We all sort of resigned ourselves in fact pretty quickly that there was nothing we could do about it, we just have to follow the rules and we get that, but I think we’re all frustrated.’
The 32-year-old said he had not had any official communication from the Government about the quarantine.
He added: ‘I was expecting perhaps at border control there’d be some big old posters or digital screens or people with megaphones perhaps saying ‘Don’t forget you need to isolate’.
‘What would have been useful is for someone who made it clear in advance – ‘There is a real possibility that you could get stopped from coming home’.
‘You can argue that I was naive for not knowing that, but I think it might have been helpful.’
Laura Wood, 41, from Oxfordshire, flew from Gatwick to Spain’s Costa Blanca with her family for a two-week holiday, also returning on Sunday, shortly after the measures took effect.
She said: ‘It was a bit of a last-minute disappointment to the end of the holiday but we’re going to get on with it. There has to be a cut-off, I guess, and we were just on the unlucky side of it.’
‘It was a different type of holiday than we’ve had, you don’t kind of expect to be walking along the seafront wearing a mask in 30C heat,’ she added.
Mrs Wood said she had experienced some ‘smug’ responses from people at home and online after the measures were announced.
‘I think it works both ways; I don’t think people can complain about the quarantine necessarily because we knew we were taking risks, but I think people’s joy at other people’s misfortune is a bit sad.’
Sophia Fadil, from Brighton, 32, works in retail after being made redundant during lockdown from her job in the travel industry.
She is currently on holiday in the Alicante region with her partner, who is a nurse, and her five-year-old son. She said the measures are a ‘slap in the face’ for the travel industry.
‘It’s just a really rubbish situation as I kind of feel it’s one step forward and then two steps back when it comes to the travel industry,’ she said.
‘I probably wouldn’t have travelled out here had I known this in advance, so in a sense I’m kind of glad I’m already here.
‘I think this was outrageous that the Government finally confirmed it three hours before it was implemented so that didn’t give anyone enough time to travel home if they needed to.’
Anthony Campbell-Butler, from London, is in Menorca with his wife and two children. He said: We booked a trip to Menorca last-minute on Monday and flew out on Thursday (July 23).
‘We’re still glad we came on our trip but we are disappointed we now have to self isolate upon our return to London. We think the Government could have better coordinated the isolation from the islands considering the breakout is on the mainland.
‘When Barcelona was shut down the government should have acted at that point and taken Spain off the corridor list. We will get through isolation but the challenge will be occupying our two children, ages ten and eight, for two weeks during the school holidays.
‘Our children are disappointed they will not be able to see their friends for the next two weeks. Perhaps Spain should not have been on the list in the first place.’
Tamara Golan, who is now having to isolate with her husband after returning from Spain, said at London Heathrow Airport that travellers were being ‘left in the lurch’.
She told Sky News: ‘If we had been given time, three days ago they would have said, probably on Saturday and Sunday we are going to institute a new quarantine policy, we might have made different plans.
‘And I think there’s so many people who have just been sort of left in the lurch right now, and it feels like the Government isn’t acting responsibly.’
Some delayed passengers missed their transfer in Madrid – and would have avoided the quarantine had they been hours earlier.
Speaking at Heathrow, Chantelle Fourriles told Sky News: ‘We missed our connection, so now we have to put up with this situation.’
Another passenger at Heathrow, Jack Winter, said: ‘I purposely moved my trip from Portugal to Spain because Portugal was on the no-fly list, and it’s completely swapped, so that’s doubly sucker-punched me a little bit.’
The decision to take Spain off the ‘safe list’ of quarantine-free destinations followed a surge in cases last week. The move, which came barely two weeks after quarantine restrictions were lifted in Spain, left the travel industry in shock.
The prospect of travellers to France suffering the same fate was raised yesterday when the country’s prime minister said ‘localised lockdowns’ may be imposed if infections continue to rise.
One doctor learnt of the new rules three minutes after touching down in Malaga on Saturday – and opted to fly straight home yesterday because he couldn’t afford a fortnight off work on top of the holiday time he had booked.
Dr Andras Szigeti, who spent £600 on the trip to Malaga with his partner, had been looking forward to a break after working throughout lockdown.
Instead after one night there he will have to self-isolate at home in Chelmsford, Essex, and return to work in two weeks.
‘Since I am a private doctor and I am the main breadwinner in the family, I cannot allow myself to lose half of my monthly salary,’ he told the BBC.
Dr Szigeti, whose LinkedIn profile says he is an optometrist for a high street optician, and his partner booked the trip as an alternative to visiting family in Hungary, which has imposed entry requirements for those arriving from the UK.
NHS worker Peter Anderson, 49, returning from Marbella, believes he would be eligible to go straight back to work but instead faces taking two weeks off because of his wife Gaynor’s home-based job.
‘My wife works for a self-catering holiday firm,’ he said ahead of flying from Malaga to Liverpool with his wife and son Thomas, six, before returning home to Windermere, Cumbria.
‘She won’t be in a position to do her job properly and keep an eye on a six-year-old running around the house. I’m going to have to take time off work to look after him.
‘Our son was supposed to be going to a kids’ club for three days this week and won’t be able to now. ‘
Mrs Anderson, 47, said: ‘We should have got more notice, 24 to 48 hours at least, so we could have had more time to sort out alternatives.’
Veterinary nurse Gemma Vilanova, 28, from Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, was due to start a new job at a surgery today after visiting family near Barcelona.
Instead, after flying back yesterday, she faces having to tell her employer that she can’t start for another fortnight.
‘Because I’m not a key worker, I’m going to have to quarantine,’ she said. ‘It is just unnecessary hassle.’
She said she saw little evidence that immigration staff were checking that arriving passengers had complied with the requirement to register where they planned to self-isolate, adding: ‘The safety measures aren’t very strict.’
Becki Gorman, 36, from Blackley, Manchester, ought to have been returning to her job as a store manager today after 12 days in Benidorm but will now be at home on unpaid leave for a fortnight.
‘We were having a meal in a restaurant when we found out,’ she said. ‘I tried to change the flights but the only one I could find landed just after midnight so it was pointless.
‘There is no way we’d have gone if we then had to spend 14 days at home. This doesn’t help anyone.’
One grieving family arriving at Birmingham Airport yesterday blasted the Government’s new quarantine rules which have thrown their plans to repatriate the body of a loved one and organise his funeral into turmoil.
The regulations have a devastating impact on the Mortiboys, who returned from Spain after travelling there to bid an agonising farewell to a family member while switching off his life support machine.
James Mortiboys, 44, tragically died during a recent holiday in Barcelona with friends.
His bereaved brother company director Anthony Mortiboys, returning to Birmingham Airport with his wife, niece and parents, said: ‘The new restrictions are crazy and very annoying. They will adversely effect many people and will cause a lot of extra grief for our family.
‘I have just lost my big brother. We’ve got a funeral to arrange and a body to bring home and we’re not sure how we’re meant to do it if we’re all in quarantine for two weeks.
‘It’s a nightmare and there’s been no help or support whatsoever from the authorities.’
Meanwhile the Prime Minister’s official spokesman reiterated that the Government expects employers to be ‘flexible’ in allowing staff to work from home while self-isolating.
‘Where this isn’t possible we would expect that many employers would have their own policies in place for quarantine and we know that some continue to offer full pay for all or some of the isolation period,’ he added.
‘But if there are people who need urgent support then they may be entitled to the new-style employment support allowance or Universal Credit.’
Pressed on whether ministers would review statutory sick pay eligibility, he said: ‘We always keep our response to the pandemic under review and we regularly assess the support available but there is support available for those in need.’
Calling for statutory sick pay for those now having to quarantine, Labour’s shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds told BBC Breakfast today: ‘We are now asking people to come back from abroad and isolate for 14 days.
‘Yet if you have a look at the Government website this morning on qualifications for statutory sick pay, it will tell you that you’re not entitled to statutory sick pay if you are isolating or self-isolating for the sole reason that you have just returned from abroad and not for any other reason.
‘Yet at the same time the Government seems to be telling us that people won’t lose out because they’ve got to rely on the goodwill of employers.
‘Now that’s just not a satisfactory situation and evidence that this should have been fully thought through.’
Asked if people should receive statutory sick pay if self-isolating after returning from abroad, Mr Thomas-Symonds said: ‘Of course people should be offered whatever it takes that they don’t lose out, and that’s what the Government has previously been saying.’
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady has called for sick pay to be increased and said ‘no one should suffer financially for following official advice to quarantine’.
She added: ‘It’s not holidaymakers’ fault that the guidance has changed. Wherever possible, employers should do the right thing and pay quarantined workers their full pay.
‘The Government must also make it clear that people who can’t work from home during quarantine will be eligible for statutory sick pay.
Q&A: How Britons are now being told not to go on holidays to Spain
What is the new travel advice?
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office advises against all non-essential travel – such as holidays – to mainland Spain. This does not apply to the Canary Islands or Balearic Islands, writes Sean Poulter, Consumer Affairs Editor.
What about quarantine?
Those returning from mainland Spain, plus the Canary Islands and Balearics, are now required to go into 14-day quarantine on return to the UK.
Why have the rules changed?
There has been a spike in cases around Barcelona, Zaragoza and Madrid.
Why are the Spanish islands included in the isolation rules?
It is not clear. The Spanish government and Britain’s travel trade body, ABTA, argues it is not necessary. They point out that infection rates on these islands are low. However, one British tourist tested positive in Lanzarote last week. British officials are concerned that if the islands were exempt, a loophole would allow Britons in Spain to fly home via Majorca and escape quarantine.
Will restrictions now be applied to other countries?
Fears of a second wave in Europe have created a risk of further restrictions. France, Belgium, Germany and Croatia have seen increases, but ministers say rule changes are not imminent. Sources said Belgium and Croatia are on the ‘watch list’. Hong Kong saw the highest daily new infections on Saturday – about 130. Other countries such as India, Romania and Bulgaria, where restrictions are already in place, are also seeing increases.
What are my refund rights?
If you have booked a package holiday in mainland Spain, your tour operator should cancel the holiday. You can then claim a full refund. There are no automatic cancellation and refund policies for the Balearic Islands and Canary Islands and some operators may not cancel. In these circumstances, families who choose to cancel will not be legally entitled to a refund. Some tour operators have suggested they may allow cancellations and refunds.
What if you book flights and accommodation separately?
There is no right to cancel and claim a refund when elements of holiday are booked separately, rather than as a package.
Can travellers cancel or get a refund on flights?
There is no automatic right to a cash refund. Ryanair, BA, easyJet, and Jet2 will continue to run their flights to Spanish airports. Travellers may be offered a voucher to the value of the ticket or a chance to rebook if they wish to cancel.
What about accommodation?
If a hotel or villa remains open and available, there is no legal right to cancel and get a refund. Some booking websites, such as Airbnb and Booking.com, do offer last-minute cancellation on some listings.
Will insurance policies cover flights and accommodation?
These are unlikely to be covered by travel insurance if the policy was bought after March 10, when most insurers removed cover for Covid-19-related cancellations.
What happens if Spain announces local lockdowns?
Tour operators will cancel holidays and you will be entitled to a full refund.
What are the rules for those returning from Spain?
Travellers arriving into England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland must all go into quarantine. They must fill in a form to provide an address where they will self-isolate for 14 days. They can be fined £100 for failing to fill in the form. One in five eligible passengers will be called or texted to check they are following the rules.
What are the penalties for those who ignore the rules?
A fine of up to £1,000 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and £480 in Scotland. Fines can rise to £5,000 for persistent offenders.
Are those in quarantine entitled to financial support?
No, they aren’t, and there is no automatic eligibility to statutory sick pay, unless they meet the conditions – for example, if they are displaying coronavirus symptoms.
‘And they should increase sick pay from £95 a week to at least the level of the ‘real living wage’ of £320 a week.
‘In addition, ministers should change the law to stop employers from sacking quarantined workers.’
Health minister Helen Whately told Sky News that people should work from home if they are returning from Spain – and urged employers to ‘be supportive’.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said yesterday that the Government ‘can’t make apologies’ for the decision it made on Saturday which was announced less than five hours before coming into force.
It means that all arrivals from Spain and its islands will now have to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return to the UK.
The quick reimposition of the restrictions meant that some holidaymakers only found out they faced quarantine when they got on board their flight from Spain back home.
It was not just the public who were caught out by the sudden announcement.
The quick turnaround meant Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who is currently in Spain for his summer break, will have to join thousands of others in being forced to isolate for two weeks on his return to Britain.
Paul Scully, minister for London, will also have to quarantine after declaring on social media that he was on holiday in Playa Dorada, Lanzarote.
The decision to reimpose quarantine has rocked the travel industry after months of international flight restrictions decimated the sector.
Paul Charles, founder of the PC Agency, the travel consultants, said the latest bad news could result in ‘many more job losses’ as holidaymakers cancel their plans.
He said: ‘People are cancelling not just Spain but other short-haul bookings. We’ve heard of lots of cancellations for holidays to France, Italy and Greece. Dominic Raab said they wouldn’t hesitate to introduce quarantine measures on other countries and that’s simply put fear into people.
‘The implications of not getting bookings throughout late summer means that there will be many more job losses in the travel industry and more businesses will go under. Many were on a cliff edge, this will push them over.’
He added: ‘The loss of confidence is a real hammer blow and the nail in the coffin for so many businesses.’
Gemma Antrobus, from the Association of Independent Tour Operators, said: ‘It feels like the rug has been pulled from under our feet. The fact such a drastic change can happen to Spain, the UK’s most popular destination, will really worry people that it could happen to any destination.’
Ms Whately today defended the fact that the travel advice says people can still go to Spanish islands but that they would have to quarantine on their return.
She said: ‘What the Foreign Office is doing is looking at the risk to an individual traveller where indeed because the rates are lower in the islands at the moment the risk to an individual traveller going there is lower.
‘But for the public health advice that is about protecting the United Kingdom.’
She also made clear that the Government could reimpose quarantine on other countries if there is a surge in coronavirus cases.
She told the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme: ‘What we are saying to people who are planning trips abroad is that you need to keep an eye on the Foreign Office guidance, that you need to be aware of your tour operator’s policies and travel insurance and be mindful we are in a global pandemic.
‘It is the right thing for us to do as a country to keep an eye on the rates in these countries.
‘If we see something going on, like we are seeing in Spain, we would have to take action.’
Ms Whately suggested people will just have to make their own decisions on whether to book foreign trips amid the ongoing uncertainty.
She told BBC Breakfast: ‘What I would say to people who are planning to go abroad is look very carefully at the situation.
‘You have to weigh up the risks, look at the advice, look at your insurance and just be aware that the reality is we are in a global pandemic and we have to do what is the right thing for the health of the nation.’
Mr Raab, speaking to Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme, refused to rule out the possibility of more countries being taken off the UK’s safe travel list.
‘As we’ve found with Spain, we can’t give a guarantee,’ he said, before adding that there was ‘an element of uncertainty this summer if people go abroad’.
The Telegraph reported that officials in both France and Germany have warned of possible new lockdowns as parts of Europe prepared for potential second waves of Covid-19 infections.
French health authorities said at the weekend that the country’s R-rate was up to 1.3 and that daily new infections on Friday had risen to 1,130 – indicators resembling those seen in May, when France was coming out of its strict two-month lockdown.
The decision to reimpose restrictions on Spain left holidaymakers frustrated, with some saying they would not have travelled if they knew they would have to spend a fortnight self-isolating afterwards.
Close to 1.8 million holidays were likely to have been thrown into chaos by the move, according to travel company The PC Agency, which analysed the number of seats booked on flights leaving the UK for Spain between July 26 and August 31.
Tour operator Tui said that, due to the change in the Government’s travel advice, it was cancelling all holidays to mainland Spain up to and including August 9.
Labour shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth criticised the Government’s handling of the affair, labelling it ‘frankly shambolic’, and called for financial support for those now forced to shut themselves away after their arrival home.
He said: ‘I can understand why the Government have made this decision and it’s a reminder that we can’t be complacent about this virus.
‘One of the big blunders from Boris Johnson back in March was not quarantining those coming from France and Spain and Italy because that’s how the virus was seeded.
‘So, I understand why they’ve made the decision but the way in which this decision has been made in the last 24 hours is frankly shambolic.’
Labour is urging the Government to ditch the blanket ban and instead introduce a more targeted quarantine policy to crackdown on affected areas.
Spanish ministers are now in talks with the UK about exempting the Canary and Balearic islands, which include Ibiza and Majorca, from the requirement to self-isolate for two weeks due to lower infection rates in those regions than on the Spanish mainland.
The Foreign Office guidance advising against all but essential travel to mainland Spain does not include the islands but ministers have opted to apply blanket quarantine arrangements across the Spanish territories.
Foreign minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya argued Spain had coronavirus outbreaks ‘perfectly controlled’ after the European country recorded more than 900 fresh daily Covid-19 cases for two days running before Saturday’s travel corridor suspension.
Ms Gonzalez Laya told reporters: ‘Spain is a safe country for tourists and Spaniards.
‘Like in any other European country we are seeing outbreaks – the outbreaks in Spain are perfectly controlled.’