BRITS arriving back from Spain to two weeks of quarantine have been greeted by chaotic scenes – with no social distancing in airport queues.
Weary families’ well-earned holidays have been plunged into disarray after the Government removed Spain from its safe list of countries without warning – meaning people have to self-isolate for two weeks when they get back.
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The sudden measure was brought in to prevent holidaymakers from bringing back coronavirus after Covid-19 cases rocketed on the Spanish mainland.
Barcelona and the whole of Catalonia are facing a total lockdown if coronavirus cases continue to spike, its president has warned.
The region’s political chief said the situation was “critical” and the next 10 days were “the most important of the summer”.
But despite the risk, there was no social distancing as travellers queued to get back into Britain at Luton Airport.
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The families – who will now have to tell their bosses they won’t be able to come in to work for two weeks – were squashed up next to each other in arrivals.
The collapse of the air bridge between the UK and Spain has caused chaos for up to 600,000 Brits who were already in the country when the new rule was announced.
They will have to fill out forms saying where they will stay for two weeks – and face a £1,000 fine if they’re caught breaking quarantine.
Neil Hunter, 45, from Sittingbourne in Kent, had booked a 10-day break to Lanzarote last December and was due to leave on Tuesday.
He said: “We were going as a family, my wife Amanda, and teenage daughter Bethany but to be honest, since this announcement, I’m unsure what’s going to happen.
“I work as a train driver and I don’t think my employer will accept me having to isolate due to going on holiday.
“I am insured, but unsure whether they’d accept that as a reason for not going, especially if Hays Travel don’t cancel for me.
“There’s no way I could afford to cancel myself.”
Speaking yesterday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab warned more countries could still be removed from the UK’s safe travel list.
He said it remained a possibility that people would have to cancel their holidays at the last moment, adding that he won’t be going abroad at all this summer.
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.
She said: “The quarantine is not a problem. I think it’s just for people’s safety.”
She added, 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.
In contrast to the chaos in the UK, Düsseldorf Airport in Germany was very orderly with distanced queueing and Covid-19 testing.
Travellers calmly lined up to check-in while passengers returning from high-risk areas were tested on the spot.
The Government removed Spain from the safe list of countries, and said anyone returning would have to stay home for a fortnight or risk a £1000 fine.
British tourists should not be travelling to mainland Spain unless it’s “essential.”
The advice against travel applies to mainland Spain, and the islands.
Craig Cowgill, from Bury, said he may lose out on pay in his role as manager of a small business due to the Government’s decision to reimpose a blanket quarantine requirement for arrivals from Spain.
Mr Cowgill, who is due to fly to Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands on Thursday, said he will “have to still come in or not get paid” upon his return to the UK.
“I don’t know what to do at this moment. I’m hoping Jet2 will offer a refund or the Government change the quarantine from the islands.
“I can understand about Spain, but they say it’s safe where we are going, so why quarantine us then? It’s either one or the other – (you) can’t send people, then ask them to quarantine and not offer refunds.”
Tony and Yolanda Schofield, from Leamington Spa, flew into Heathrow Airport from Madrid on Monday 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.
“It has been very smooth, very easy.”
Asked about the two-week quarantine, Mr Schofield called it “necessary”.
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, 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.”
The Government website says: “From 26 July, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises against all non-essential travel to mainland Spain based on the current assessment of Covid-19 risks.
“Only the Canary Islands (Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro and La Graciosa) and Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera) are exempt from the FCO advice against all non-essential international travel.
“This advice is based on evidence of increases in cases of Covid-19 in several regions, but particularly in Aragon, Navarra and Catalonia (which include the cities of Zaragoza, Pamplona and Barcelona).
“The FCO is not advising those already travelling in Spain to leave at this time.”
A Luton Airport spokesperson said: “Due to a significant number of passengers who had not completed their locator form prior to arrival, the processing of passengers on Sunday lunchtime took longer than usual.
“While we will always do our best to ensure passengers can keep their distance from others, there will be times where this is not possible.
“That is why face coverings are mandatory in the airport along with other steps we have taken will help to reduce the risk of transmission within the terminal.”