Tourists say they feel blindsided by the decision to remove Spain from the list of safe countries.
They are worried they will lose out on money if they have to cancel holidays, and are confused by the fast-moving changes.
Ministers removed Spain from the Government’s travel corridor exemption list yesterday following a rise in Covid-19 cases in the country.
It means all travellers returning from the country, including the Spanish islands, will have to self-isolate for two weeks, the Department for Transport confirmed.
Neil Hunter, 45, from Sittingbourne in Kent, had booked a 10-day break to Lanzarote, leaving on Tuesday. The trip had been booked since last December, but has now been thrown into doubt.
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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 as 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.’
He said he understood why the decision had been taken, but that it ‘is a lot of money and disappointing all the same’.
Chloe Harris, 23, from Kent, booked a last-minute trip to Lanzarote and arrived on the Spanish island this morning and said she was ‘gutted’ to hear the news.
She said: ‘When I heard the news I was quite shocked because I thought they would have given us some warning. Even just some warning that this was something they were going to consider.’
The four-night trip was booked last minute on Wednesday, and Ms Harris, who is travelling with a friend, said they had researched the destination beforehand.
Speaking before the official announcement, she said: ‘We had done our research and we knew that the island has only had a small number of Covid cases.
‘I think a lot of people are going to rush to the airport, but because we are only here for four days, and we only arrived this morning, it doesn’t seem worth it. We are just going to wait and hear if the island is included in the quarantine.
‘I would probably be fine to continue working from home and quarantine from home, although I would have to stop going into the office.
‘However, my friend who I travelled with is due to start a new job on August 3 and so that’s going to be difficult to explain to her employer.’
Rory Boland, editor of consumer rights magazine Which? Travel, said: ‘Many holidaymakers will be deeply angry that the Government didn’t make this decision 48 hours ago, before tens of thousands of them flew off for their summer holidays in Spain.
‘Many would not have travelled if they had known they’d face 14 days of quarantine on their return.’
The Foreign Office has now advised against all but essential travel to mainland Spain.
Tui, the UK’s biggest tour operator, said it had cancelled all flights due to depart to mainland Spain and the Canary Islands on Sunday.
Managing director Andrew Flintham confirmed the company would contact customers to arrange refunds or rebookings, but added: ‘We’re incredibly disappointed that we didn’t get more notice of this announcement, or that this decision wasn’t made yesterday, as many Brits travel on holiday at the weekend.’
But Government sources said the ‘fast moving picture’ regarding Spain’s coronavirus cases meant ministers had to act ‘immediately’.
A UK Government spokesman said: ‘The Joint Biosecurity Centre together with Public Health England have updated their coronavirus assessments of Spain based on the latest data.
‘As a result, Spain has been removed from the lists of countries from which passengers arriving in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are exempted from the need to self-isolate.
‘Protecting public health is our absolute priority and we have taken this decision to limit any potential spread to the UK.
‘We’ve always been clear that we would act immediately to remove a country where necessary.’
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