Holidaymakers returning to the UK from Spain will now have to quarantine for two weeks as the Government imposes the new rule from midnight tonight. Coronavirus cases have soared across the country.
A Spanish Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Spain “respects decisions of the United Kingdom” and is in contact with British authorities but insisted it was a safe country with localised, isolated and controlled outbreaks of the coronavirus.
Announcing the news, the Government said in a statement: “The Joint Biosecurity Centre together with Public Health England has updated their coronavirus assessments of Spain based on the latest data.
“As a result, Spain has been removed from the list of countries from which passengers arriving in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are exempted from the need to self-isolate.
“Protecting public health is our absolute priority and we have taken this decision to limit any potential spread to the UK.
“We’ve always been clear that we would act immediately to remove a country where necessary.
“Both our list of quarantine exemptions and the FCO travel advice are being updated to reflect these latest risk assessments.”
More than 220 coronavirus clusters have appeared around Spain mainly in Catalan cities such as Barcelona.
The travel and tourism industry has been greatly affected by the coronavirus pandemic and EasyJet has responded to the new restrictions.
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In a statement, the airline said: “We are disappointed that the government has decided to impose a quarantine requirement for those travelling from the whole of Spain since the increased occurrence of coronavirus is regional rather than nationwide.
“We plan to operate our full schedule in the coming days.”
British Airways also responded saying the rules are a blow to the British holidaymakers.
They 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.
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“This is sadly yet another blow for British holidaymakers and cannot fail to have an impact on an already troubled aviation industry.”
Labour urged the Government to provide advice for people who are currently holidaying in Spain.
Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said: “The news will be deeply concerning for families who are caught in Spain or are planning to travel.
“The government needs to come forward now with full details of how people affected will be supported.”
Airlines UK, the industry association representing UK-registered carriers, added: “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.
“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.”
Spain has been one of the worst-hit countries and fears of a deadlier second wave have been raised.
The country has reported 319,501 total infections with 28,432 deaths.
The UK currently has the highest death toll in Europe surpassing 45,000.