New coronavirus quarantine rules have come into force in the UK, requiring travellers arriving from Spain to self-isolate for 14 days. So how have holidaymakers reacted to the changes?
Cancelled birthday surprise
Lois Stothard, from South Yorkshire, said she had booked a holiday to Seville as a surprise for her boyfriend’s 30th birthday – due to fly out on Sunday morning – but now feels that she cannot travel.
“I’m a key worker – I’m a teacher – and my boyfriend has work commitments so we cannot quarantine for 14 days when we return,” she said.
“We can’t get any money back and to change the company want double what I’ve already paid in fees.
“I’m very disappointed and upset as we’re packed and ready to go.”
Dr Andras Szigeti, from Chelmsford, Essex, arrived in Spain with his partner on Saturday for a holiday, after working throughout the lockdown as a key worker.
But three minutes after they landed in Malaga, the couple received the news that they must self-isolate for 14 days upon their return to the UK.
“Since I am a private doctor and I am the main breadwinner in the family, I cannot allow myself to lose half of my monthly salary,” Dr Szigeti said.
“So we decided to return tomorrow and use at least part of my holiday as quarantine.”
Dr Szigeti said they were “devastated” as the trip to Malaga had been booked as an alternative to visiting their families in Hungary, which has imposed entry requirements for people arriving from the UK.
“Now we have changed our flights for the third time and altogether paid £600 for our one-night trip to the sun,” he said.
‘We’re still going’
Rachael Gillespie, 48, of Llandough, Penarth, said she still intends to travel to Quesada, Murcia, on Monday morning with her partner and two daughters.
“I’m not ignoring the potential risk but we’re staying in a family villa, have a family car and both my partner and I are fortunate to be able to work from home when we return,” she said.
“We’ll also be staying a long way from Catalonia where the worst of the outbreak appears to be in Spain.
“I know there’s a question over insurance and some people think I’m mad, but when you see the crowds in UK destinations like north Wales or the Lake District, where exactly is the safest place to holiday right now?”
‘I really needed this break’
Dan Chadderton, 49, from Sale, Cheshire, flew from Manchester to Spain on Saturday morning with his wife Gabby, 51, and daughters Anna, 16, and Eliza, 11.
He and his family have been “looking at the news all the time” from their holiday spot south of Alicante, after colleagues told him about the rule change on Saturday evening.
“Everyone is wearing masks here all the time. We are miles and miles away from the hotspots so I don’t know why the isolation is being put in here too,” he said.
Dan says the news is stress he could have done without.
“I’m particularly upset as I work for a travel company – March, April and May were hell – was never furloughed, and really needed this break,” he said.
But Dan added that his boss has been “really great” about the prospect of a 14-day quarantine. “He has said we’ve all worked really hard throughout lockdown in the UK so just to enjoy my holiday.”
Trapped in UK?
Caren Joyce, who lives in Alicante, Spain, is due to fly into London Gatwick on Monday, with her two teenage children, to visit her parents.
Ms Joyce said she still intended to travel because she did not want to disappoint her parents, both in their 70s, who have “had many ups and downs and felt isolated” during the pandemic.
But she called for greater clarity from the government about the new rules.
“We are only in the UK for nine days, so how does this work?” she said. “I have taken holiday from work to go and see my parents.
“Are we allowed to return to our country of residence within these 14 days?”
‘More flexible’ policy
Meanwhile, Lesya Liskevych, from Reigate, told the BBC she believed the new quarantine rules should be “more flexible, based on the local data”.
Ms Liskevych, who is currently in Lanzarote with her husband, said: “Cases [here] are very low, masks are being worn, and it’s not very busy and perfectly manageable to maintain social distancing as the beaches and towns are not busy at all.”
She added that they had encountered very few people and felt the area was “much lower risk than the hotspots in mainland Spain”.
The quarantine measures apply to those returning from mainland Spain, the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands, such as Majorca and Ibiza, however Foreign Office advice – which has ramifications for travel insurance – is to avoid all but essential travel to mainland Spain.
People currently on holiday in Spain have been advised by the Department of Transport to follow the local rules, return home as normal, and check the Foreign Office’s travel advice website for further information.