DOMINIC RAAB defended the Government’s decision to suddenly reimpose a quarantine on arrival from Spain amidst widespread fury from holidaymakers and the travel sector.
Spain was unexpectedly taken off the UK’s safe travel list after Madrid reported a significant spike of coronavirus cases over the past week. Holidaymakers returning from their Spanish break will be asked to self-isolate at home for 14 days, a move which sparked the fury of both tourists and the travel sector. But Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab defended the decision as he insted the Goverment must be able to act swiftly to keep the risks of a resurgence of COVID-19 cases controlled.
Speaking to Sky News, Mr Raab said: “We’ve always said, as we come through the lockdown, we would need to take targeted measures.
“If we can’t do that, the risk is the virus gets back hold in the UK, the damage to the economy of a second lockdown and I think a blow to public confidence.
“So, yes, these measures are decisive and swift and, as a result of that, inconvenient for those going through them but they are absolutely necessary.”
The quarantine, which came into effect at midnight on Sunday, will leave many holidaymakers facing major issues as they will be required to stay put for 14 days without being able to leave for work or do the shopping.
Sandra Dibble, who has been holidaying in Spain, questioned the Government’s failure to warn tourists the new policy was going to be introduces so quickly.
Ms Dibble said: “They’ve given us basically not notice of this. I know they have to have some sort of line drawn but they’ve not given anybody a chance.
“Some people’s jobs may depend on them getting back to work next week from the holiday that was green lighted from the UK Government.”
Business owner Rob Springhall said: “It’s been very tricky for us all. It’s been very difficult.
“I haven’t had the chance to speak to many other business owners since last evening but it doesn’t sit very well with a lot of people. It’s quite frustrating, it seems to be double-standards from the UK.”
Prof Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s deputy chief medical officer, said there is no “magic time” to reimpose restrictions as he insisted the Government must act in accordance to the latest data.
Spain recorded an increase of 280 COVID-19 cases in 24 hours on Friday, three times the amount reported two weeks ago.
Prof Van-Tam said: “Whenever a decision is made there will always be people who have just left the UK.
“So there is no magic time at which to do this. The thing that we have to do is do it as soon as we are certain about the data.”
But the sudden change is expected to cause further troubles for the tourism sector which has already been struggling with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) had been advising Britons to avoid all but essential travel to mainland Spain, the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands, including Majorca, Ibiza and Lanzarote.
The decision was taken so suddenly even the Department of Transport’s own chief was left facing the new quarantine rules, as Grant Shapps was reported to have left for Spain to go on holiday with his family on Saturday morning.
Mr Shapps is expected to remain in Spain for the duration of the holiday and then isolate with his family for 14 days upon his return.