Be prepared for your holiday to be cancelled, government warns travellers to all countries

Minister says other destinations could face same fate as Spain

Jon Stone
Policy Correspondent
Monday 27 July 2020 09:24 BST
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Dominic Raab warns of summer of travel 'uncertainty' due to coronavirus

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British travellers to all countries should be prepared for their holidays to be cancelled under emergency coronavirus quarantine measures, the government has warned.

Ministers this week imposed surprise restrictions on travel between Spain, with two-week quarantines for anyone returning and mass cancellations for anyone with plans.

The last-minute move prompted criticism from Spanish authorities, who say outbreaks are localised and that the measures are disproportionate. Tour operators have also said the lack of warning given was "challenging".

But Helen Whately, health minister, said similar surprise measures could follow for other countries if data showed they were necessary.

"What we are saying to people who are planning trips abroad is you need to keep an eye on the Foreign Office guidance, that you need to be aware of your tour operator's policies and the travel insurance, and be mindful that we are in a global pandemic," she told the BBC.

"It is the right thing for us to do as a country to keep an eye on the rates of these countries. If we see something going on like we've seen in Spain we would have to take action."

Asked whether any country could be affected, the minister said: "We have to do the thing that is the right thing for the health of the country. We're in a pandemic. What we don't want to see a second spike, we don't want to see cases of coronavirus going up in the Winter, particularly we have to keep the rate under control in the UK, so that has to be our priority."

On Sunday Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the government couldn't "give a guarantee" that holidays could go ahead and that there was "an element of uncertainty this summer if people go abroad".

The move could lead to second thoughts among would-be holidaymakers about whether to go abroad at all – and travel industry figures have warned the decision could have knock-on affects on the viability of some companies.

Andrew Flintham, managing director of TUI, Britain's latest travel operator, said: "What we'd really like - and I think we are going to need this going forward as the world evolves - is a nuanced policy."

Labour shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth criticised the Government's handling of the affair as "frankly shambolic" and called for financial support for those facing quarantine.

Transport minister Grant Shapps was among those caught up in the last-minute restrictions, as he was holidaying in Spain with his family at the time of the announcement.

Other countries have taken a more localised approach to imposing restrictions on Spain, with Belgium banning travel to Huesca and Lleida, and Germany advising against visits to some regions. France has "strongly recommended" against travel to Catalonia, while Norway has imposed a 10-day quarantine on all travellers returning from the country.

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