Minister cuts short Spain holiday after being caught out by quarantine announcement


The transport secretary will cut short his holiday in Spain and return to the UK after being caught out by the reintroduction of coronavirus quarantine measures for the country.

Grant Shapps flew there on Saturday morning to start his summer holiday, just hours before the government announced it was scrapping its travel corridor for Spain.

Since midnight on Saturday, Britons returning to the UK from mainland Spain and the Balearic and Canary Islands once again have to self-isolate for two weeks upon arrival.

British holidaymakers in Spain

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In a statement sent to Sky News, Mr Shapps said: “I think it’s right to get back to work in the UK as soon as possible in order to help handle the situation.

“The sooner I get back from Spain myself, the sooner I can get through quarantine.

“So I’m leaving my family to travel back to the UK on Wednesday.”

Mr Shapps will not be exempt from the requirement to self-isolate, Downing Street has confirmed.

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“The same rules apply to ministers as they do anyone else,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said.

Mr Shapps said he had been in “constant contact” with his officials and industry representatives whilst in Spain, adding he had “reviewed the data and worked with colleagues to make the difficult decision to introduce quarantine”.

Aircraft queuing for take-off at Heathrow Airport.

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The transport secretary added in his statement that it was a “necessary emergency imposition”.

Downing Street has defended the move, saying it was “announced straight away” after a decision was taken based on new data on cases numbers received on Friday.

The decision was announced after Spain recorded more than 900 new coronavirus cases for two days running.

The PM’s spokesman said decisions on border measures and travel advice “can be changed rapidly if necessary to help stop the spread of the disease”.


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He added: “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.”

But the decision has angered tourists, airlines and travel firms.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has also updated its travel advice for Spain.

It is now advising against all non-essential travel to the whole of Spain, including the Balearic and Canary Islands.

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“We have considered the overall situation for British nationals travelling to and from the Balearic and Canary Islands, including the impact of the requirement to self-isolate on return to the UK, and concluded that we should advise British nationals against all non-essential travel to the whole of Spain,” a spokesman said.

Madrid had been calling for the UK to exempt travellers to the Balearic and Canary Islands from the quarantine.

Tourism minister Reyes Maroto has insisted it is safe for holidaymakers to visit the popular destinations.

Spain’s tourism association – known as CEHAT – has offered to pay for tourists to take COVID-19 tests and called the quarantine decision “illogical” and “unfair”.

quarantine change

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Downing Street has said the government expects employers to be “flexible” in allowing staff to work from home while self-isolating.

Number 10 said holidaymakers who miss out on work may be eligible for Universal Credit or employment support allowance – but not statutory sick pay.

The PM’s spokesman said workers who lose their jobs as a result of having to go into quarantine could appeal to the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS).

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TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady is calling on the government to increase sick pay from its current level of £95 a week to “at least” the level of the real living wage – £320 a week.

She has also demanded that ministers change the law to stop firms sacking workers who have to self-isolate.

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