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No foreign travel ‘risk free’ from quarantine

Anger: Passengers at Birmingham Airport. Travellers from Spain must isolate PICTURE: PA

MILLIONS of Britons face more holiday chaos after ministers warned that the new requirement to enter quarantine after returning from Spain could be extended to other destinations.

France, Germany and Belgium are among countries that may be removed from the list of safe ‘air corridors’.

And travel bosses fear many people will cancel trips rather than risk being forced to self-isolate for 14 days on their return. Yesterday the government insisted ‘no travel is risk free’ as it faced complaints about the exemption for Spain being abruptly ended.

The decision followed a surge in virus cases in the Iberian country, and warnings that a new lockdown may have to be imposed in Catalonia.

Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said more countries could be similarly affected and travel advice ‘can be changed rapidly if necessary to help stop the spread of the disease’.

He added that anyone travelling abroad ‘should be aware that our travel advice and exemption list is under constant review as we monitor the international situation’. Health minister Helen Whately said: ‘If we see the rates going up, we would have to take action because we cannot take the risk of coronavirus being spread again across the UK.’

The quarantine rules apply to islands such as Mallorca and Ibiza, where there have been few cases compared with the mainland. But Andrew Flintham, managing director of travel giant Tui, argued yesterday for a more ‘nuanced’ regional approach.

He questioned why the islands — top tourist destinations — were ‘lumped together in one big Spain quarantine’.

And he argued that if there was a problem in Florida but not California, ‘you wouldn’t want to close the whole of the United States to tourists’. Tui has suspended all holidays to mainland Spain up to and including August 9.

Downing Street says holidaymakers who miss out on work because of the quarantine period may be eligible to receive Universal Credit or employment support allowance, but not statutory sick pay.

Among unhappy Britons arriving at Manchester Airport from Spain was Joanne Jackson, 49, who had just returned from a two-week break in Nerja and said she has now lost £2,000 in wages due to the quarantine.

The care worker from Manchester said: ‘It is a ridiculous decision and disgraceful one. Who is going to pay my mortgage and bills?’

Spain’s prime minister Pedro Sanchez said last night Britain’s decision was ‘unfair’ and he hoped to persuade the government to change its mind.

He said ministers had made an ‘error’ by considering Spain’s infection rate overall, when most regions had a lower rate than Britain’s.

The toll of people who have died in the UK after testing positive for the virus has reached 45,759 after a rise yesterday of just seven.

That was the lowest daily increase since March 12 but there are often lags in reporting after weekends. Separate figures show there have been more than 56,100 fatalities in which Covid-19 featured on the death certificate.

The number of cases worldwide has doubled in the last six weeks, with more than 16million reported and nearly 650,000 deaths.

Spain has witnessed more than 272,241 cases and 28,432 deaths.