UK government under fire over snap quarantine on Spain

30/07/2020

Ministers accused of taking two steps forward and one step back by airlines

Aviation leaders have slammed the UK government after a snap decision to reimpose quarantine on passengers returning from Spain linked to a rise in coronavirus cases.

Airlines urged a more considered approach after ministers removed Spain from a safe travel list with less than 24 hours-notice.

“With Travel Corridors only having been introduced so recently, it feels like two steps forwards and one step back,” said airline association, Airlines UK.

The body, whose members include easyJet, Norwegian and Ryanair, added: “We need the Government to work with the sector to consider a more targeted, regional approach where quarantine could apply only to affected regions of a country, and to introduce airport testing so that those who are Covid-negative can continue to travel without the need to self-isolate upon arrival.”

However, UK Foreign secretary, Dominic Raab defended the quickfire quarantine clampdown.

Data sources showed a “big jump” in fresh coronavirus cases in Spain according to Raab. The government had to take “swift and decisive” action to mitigate the possibility of a second wave in the UK, he claimed.

Spain has recorded more than 1,000 fresh cases of coronavirus on every day since 20 July, statistics showed. The occurrence rate had fallen to around 300 daily cases in late June.

A UK government spokesperson said: “We’ve always been clear that we would act immediately to remove a country where necessary. Both our list of quarantine exemptions and the FCO travel advice are being updated to reflect these latest risk assessments.”

A more coordinated approach to implementing travel restrictions was “vital” to support the airline industry through “a hugely challenging winter”, according to Airlines UK.