Government criticised over 'shambolic' quarantine measures for Spanish arrivals

The Government has been criticised for its “shambolic” decision to impose quarantine rules on tourists returning from Spain.

Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth said the last-minute decision to remove Spain from the list of safe countries for travel had left holidaymakers “confused and distressed”.

And he expressed astonishment at the news that Transport Secretary Grant Shapps had been caught out by his government’s own quarantine rules, meaning he will have to self isolate when he returns from his own Spanish break.

Holidaymakers were stunned when they were only given a few hours notice of new quarantine rules for people returning from Spain.

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

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth

Mr Ashworth told Sky News: “I understand why they’ve made the decision but, of course, the way in which this decision has been made in the last 24 hours is frankly shambolic.

“There are holidaymakers in Spain at the moment confused and distressed, there are people about to go on holiday to Spain and the islands like Tenerife who are confused, and they don’t know whether their employers will allow them to take two weeks’ quarantine – the Government is just saying, ‘we hope that employers co-operate’.

“Well, to be frank, I hope I win the lottery on Saturday but that doesn’t mean it is going to happen.”

Holidaymakers had flocked to Spain after the Government relaxed lockdown measures

The Shadow Health Secretary demanded clarity on whether holidaymakers will be given financial support if they are penalised by their employers for having to self isolate.

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He added: “The way in which this decision has been communicated is obviously causing anxiety.”

Mr Ashworth said “you couldn’t make it up” after it was confirmed that Mr Shapps was in Spain and will have to self-isolate on his return to Britain.

He added: “I think that tells you everything about the sort of Government approach to this.”

But Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, refused to apologise to travellers caught up in the chaos, despite fury from holidaymakers and the travel sector.

He said: The data we got was on the Friday, it showed a big jump right across mainland Spain, that was then assessed yesterday afternoon and we took the decision as swiftly as we could.

“And we can’t make apologies for doing so.”

Mr Raab said ministers needed to be able to take “swift, decisive action”, adding: “Otherwise, we risk reinfection into the UK, potentially a second wave here and then another lockdown.”

He also warned that other countries could be taken off the safe list for travel, saying there was “an element of uncertainty this summer.”


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