Government ministers have cast potential doubts over Brits’ summer holiday plans following quarantine measures imposed this weekend for those travelling to the UK from Spain.
Foregin Secretary Dominic Raab appeared on Sky News to speak to Sophy Ridge on Sunday morning.
He addressed and defended the government’s decision to impose two-week quarantine measures on those travelling to the UK from Spain – which took effect on Sunday – by stating that “we took the decision as swiftly as we could” and that “we can’t make apologies for doing so”.
He continued: “We must be able to take swift, decisive action, particularly in relation to localised, or internationally in relation to Spain or a particular country, where we see we must take action. Otherwise, we risk reinfection into the UK, potentially a second wave here and then another lockdown.”
“So yes, I understand it is disruptive for those going through this who are in Spain or have been considering going, but we must though be able to take swift, decisive action to protect the UK, because we’ve made such progress in getting the virus down, and prevent the virus retaking hold in the UK.”
The 14-day quarantine affects Britons coming back from mainland Spain, the Canary Islands (Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro and La Graciosa), and the Balearic Islands (Majorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera).
In relation to countries being removed from the government’s ‘safe travel’ list in the future and whether ministers would ever consider placing similar travel restrictions or quarantine measures onto any other countries, Mr Raab revealed that no guarantee could be given to that at this point.
He stated that: “As we’ve found with Spain, we can’t give a guarantee”, and added that there was “an element of uncertainty this summer if people go abroad”.
Mr Raab said the government could not risk giving any “vague advice” to holidaymakers.
He continued: “There is a cutoff with changes in rules and advice we give, so I appreciate that that’s difficult and it can be disruptive, but it would be far worse to either muddy the waters or to hold back and delay from taking the measures when we need to take them.”
“The reason this was taken at reasonably short notice was the spike in Spain that we’ve responded to… so it was the real-time response.”
Health Minister Helen Whately has also spoken to a number of media outlets this morning regarding the government’s plans to impose quarantine measures onto travel into the UK from other countries in the future.
Speaking to Sky News – particularly in relation to the widespread speculation that France or Germany could be next to join Spain in being removed from the ‘safe travel’ list, she stated that: “We have to keep the situation under review and I think that is what the public would expect us to do.”
“If we see rates going up in a country where at the moment there is no need to quarantine, we would have to take action because we cannot take the risk of coronavirus being spread again across the UK.”
She also said that individuals that have booked, or are currently booking holidays need to understand that “we are in a global pandemic” and the government was right to take “rapid action” where necessary.
Following up on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, she added that: “What we said throughout the time when we’ve put in place the policy on the travel corridors, the air bridges, is that we would need to keep those under review, that we would need to monitor the rates in other countries.”
“That is exactly what we’ve done in Spain, so we are enacting the policy that we committed to doing.”
“The rate was going up very rapidly in Spain and we had to take very rapid, decisive action.”
“If we hadn’t taken that decisive action, I imagine you would be asking me ‘Why are there delays, why haven’t we taken robust action?'”
“We have taken decisive action.”
Public Health England (PHE) is confirmed to be closely and continuously monitoring travel situations globally, and travellers are advised to continue checking this updated advice regularly.
All current and latest travel advice can be found via The Foreign & Commonwealth Office website here.
For further information and guidance amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, do refer to official sources via gov.uk/coronavirus.