By Tim Le Couilliard, Newgate Public Affairs
As someone who returned from Spain yesterday, I, along with the 600,000 other UK tourists in the country, have been affected by the Government’s announcement that we would be made to isolate for 14 days upon return.
The front page of the Daily Telegraph this morning has led with rumours (that have not been resisted by the Government) that the quarantine may reduce to 10 days, dependent on a negative Covid-19 test. Either way, a prolonged period of time must now be taken at home in an attempt to ensure the UK’s R-number does not increase.
The sudden need to quarantine came as a surprise to us out in Spain; I for one was in the South where cases have been limited – a fact that the Prime Minister of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, has been keen to stress, describing the decision as “unjust”. Number 10 has pointed to the daily increase of cases across Spain as the validation of the policy decision, with some regions experiencing “huge” spikes in the numbers of cases. The FCO has meanwhile issued advice against all non-essential travel to Spain, including the Balearic and Canary Islands.
Much has been made of the Government’s decision, with Labour being outspoken critics of the “chaotic, one-size-fits-all” policy. Today, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, keen to defend the “decisive” decision, has stated that what is happening on the Continent is the “sign of a second wave of the pandemic” in some areas. Whilst this will do little to console those who are not able to work from home (although the Government has confirmed that those who do not get paid due to being in quarantine should claim universal credit) or travel operators, the changing policy does link with the constantly reviewing air-bridge policy the Government has committed to.
With the promise of “swift” action being taken, those with upcoming holidays will be weary as it is estimated that at least 11 European countries currently enjoying air-bridges have seen rising numbers of Covid-19 cases in recent days, with Belgium, Czech Republic, Poland, France, and Germany in the immediate spotlight. Still, the closing of the air-bridge applies to all citizens, with even those at the top of Government (Michael Gove, Grant Shapps and Paul Scully) having holiday plans changed due to the policy. Safe travels all!