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Expats Spain Government branded ‘shambolic’ after axing quarantine-free travel to Spain overnight


Expats in Spain

Expats Spain Government branded ‘shambolic’ after axing quarantine-free travel to Spain overnight

Dominic Raab refused to apologise for reimposing quarantine on travel to Spain today despite the fury of British holidaymakers who have already headed to the Costas.The Foreign Secretary defended the decision by the Department for Transport to remove the country from a list of safe destinations in the wake of a spike in coronavirus cases.The…

Expats Spain Government branded ‘shambolic’ after axing quarantine-free travel to Spain overnight

Expats Spain

Dominic Raab refused to apologise for reimposing quarantine on travel to Spain today despite the fury of British holidaymakers who have already headed to the Costas.

The Foreign Secretary defended the decision by the Department for Transport to remove the country from a list of safe destinations in the wake of a spike in coronavirus cases.

The decision has left the estimated 600,000 British holidaymakers already in Spain or those preparing to fly out ‘panicking’ about a fortnight-long home quarantine when they return to the UK – which could leave some unable to work.

One holidaymaker described the decision as ‘ridiculous’, while another, an NHS project worker, claims his work will be delayed as a result of him having to self-isolate.

And commerce chiefs say the ‘abrupt’ changes will also cause disruption for owners of companies, who will face losing staff for a fortnight with very little warning.

Travel industry chiefs say they understand the government’s decision, with Spain seeing a recent spike in coronavirus cases, but called for a re-think over quarantines for travellers from the Canary and Balaeric islands – where case numbers are much lower than the mainland.

Meanwhile Spain’s Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya has today hit back and declared Spain ‘safe for tourists’ and refused to comment on whether the country will retaliate with similar measures on incoming British holidaymakers.

Today Mr Raab said the decision to remove the quarantine-free travel with Spain had been taken yesterday based on data received and analysed on Friday.

Labour blasted the decision, which came into effect at midnight, as ‘shambolic’ after it emerged that even Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and business minister Paul Scully had been caught out by the speed of the move while on Spanish holidays. 

Mr Raaab told Sky’s Ridge on Sunday: ‘We cannot apologise for doing so. We must be able to take swift, decisive action’

Mr Shapps is among those facing quarantine unless he rushes back to the UK ahead of the deadline of midnight tonight

Labour’s shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth blasted the speed of the decision and the way it had been broken by a journalist on Twitter

UK holidaymakers in Spain are facing a two-week quarantine after the country was hit by a new outbreak of coronavirus

Passengers queue in front of a baggage drop-off at Terminal 4 of Adolfo Suarez-Madrid Barajas International Airport in Madrid

A family all wearing face masks walks past a departures board at at Terminal 4 of Adolfo Suarez-Madrid Barajas International Airport in Madrid

One holidaymaker described the decision as ‘ridiculous’, while another, an NHS project worker, claims his work will be delayed as a result of him having to self-isolate. Picutred: Holidaymakers on their way home to Manchester from San Bartolome Airport in Lanzarote

British tourists seen at Malaga Airport preparing to return to the UK this morning after the news that they will have to quarantine for two weeks when they arrive

Large groups of British holidaymakers were seen at Tenerife Sur International Airport today

But Mr Raab told Sky’s Ridge on Sunday: ‘The cases in Spain, the data came we got was on the Friday, showed a big jump right across mainland Spain, that was then assessed yesterday afternoon and we took the decision as swiftly as we could.

NHS test and trace chief says testing will not stop the need for 14 day quarantine for Spain holidaymakers 

The head of the NHS test and trace scheme, Baroness Dido Harding, has today said testing people arriving back from Spain would not remove the need for travellers to self-isolate for two weeks. 

Speaking to Gloria de Piero and Tom Newton Dunn on Times Radio this morning, Baroness Harding said:

‘Although we’d love it to be true that if you have a test today, we can be confident in saying that you’re not infectious and about to come down with the disease, that’s not the way the virus works.

‘So a test today is only as good as saying you haven’t got the disease today.

‘And the incubation period can be quite a long time, which is why if you’ve been in a very high risk environment, and right now, the judgement of our scientists and clinicians is that Spain is a high risk environment, we need you to isolate for 14 days because you might test negative today and test positive tomorrow, or the next day right up to the end of that 14 day period.

‘And we can’t make apologies for doing so. 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 re-infection 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 re-taking hold in the UK.’

And he warned other nations could also have quarantine reimposed, adding: ‘There is an element of uncertainty this summer.’  

Labour’s shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth criticised the speed of the decision and the way it had been broken by a journalist on Twitter.

He told Ridge: ‘I understand why they have made the decision. But the way the decision has been made in the last 24 hours is frankly shambolic.

‘There are holidaymakers in Spain at the moment confused and distressed, there are people about to go on holiday to Spain and the islands like Tenerife who are confused. They don’t know if their employers will allow them to take two weeks’ quarantine. 

‘The Government just saying that ‘we hope employers co-operate’, well I hope I will win the lottery on Saturday, it doesn’t mean it will happen.’

Mr Scully, who is also the Minister for London, is believed to be on holiday on the Canary Island of Lanzarote, after posting a picture from a beach resort there last night. 

Responding to Mr Shapps’ predicament he added: ‘You couldn’t make it up. Grant Shapps is over there on holiday in Spain when he is the Transport Secretary. I think that tells you everything about the Government’s approach to this.’

Asked why the Government could not have given holidaymakers an earlier warning that Spain was being assessed for quarantine, Mr Raab said ministers had to be able to ‘gauge the data in real time’.

Flights from Spain arrived at Heathrow Airport today with passengers facing an automatic 14 day quarantine at their home or place where they are staying

These passengers came in from Madrid to Heathrow Airport this morning – after the government re-imposed its quarantine rule

A passenger speaks to the media after arriving at Heathrow Airport this morning from Madrid

Passengers from Barcelona arrived at Birmingham Airport today following the announcement last night

Barcelona is in the Catalonia region, which is one of the regions which has seen a rise in the number of cases

Speaking to Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme, he added: ‘If we suddenly say, ‘we’re not quite sure’ and give vague advice, it would create more uncertainty.

‘There is a cut-off with changes in rules and advice we give, so I appreciate that that’s difficult and it can be disruptive.

‘Everyone is panicking’: British tourists scramble to get home 

‘Panicked’ British tourists heading back from Spain today are facing a two-week quarantine when they arrive home after the government made its bombshell announcement last night to scrap the air bridge. 

Queues of home-bound Britons reacted with anger and confusion as they prepared to board a plane from Madrid this morning.

It comes after the government last night suddenly pulled its air bridge with Spain with almost immediate effect following a spike of coronavirus cases in the country.

The move, which came into effect from midnight, means anyone returning to Britain from Spain faces an automatic fortnight-long home quarantine at home.

The rules apply to all regions of Spain, including the Canary and Balearic islands – though politicians in the latter say they are attempting to thrash out a regional air bridge.

One Briton, who wished to remain anonymous, said they had been working on an NHS project during lockdown and, having taken a short holiday, now faced a fortnight-long quarantine.

The ‘disgusted’ holidaymaker said the project could now be delayed as a result.

Speaking to MailOnline, they said: ‘We have worked on an NHS project for 14 weeks, seven days a week without a break.

‘Our first chance to to get a holiday as a family, we are now facing the prospect of 14 day quarantine and the project failing to finish on time as it still has 4 weeks to go until completion and we will not be there.

‘No notice. No chance for us to get back in time. Unbelievable. What thanks for the hard work and efforts we have put in.’

Meanwhile, one Briton at Madrid’s Barajas airport, Emily Harrison, from Essex, said: ‘It’s really bad because it’s just come all of a sudden, it’s not given very much time to prepare so everyone is now panicking.’

‘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, the data we were getting from Spain (meant) we had to respond very swiftly.’

It comes as today the head of the NHS test and trace scheme, Baroness Harding, told Times Radio testing people arriving back from Spain would not remove the need for travellers to self-isolate for two weeks.  

Speaking to Gloria de Piero and Tom Newton Dunn this morning: ‘Although we’d love it to be true that if you have a test today, we can be confident in saying that you’re not infectious and about to come down with the disease, that’s not the way the virus works.

‘So a test today is only as good as saying you haven’t got the disease today. And the incubation period can be quite a long time, which is why if you’ve been in a very high risk environment, and right now, the judgement of our scientists and clinicians is that Spain is a high risk environment, we need you to isolate for 14 days because you might test negative today and test positive tomorrow, or the next day right up to the end of that 14 day period.

Today, tourists who had jetted off to the Mediterranean when Boris Johnson’s ministers insisted it was safe were furious after learning the air bridge scheme, which should let them back in without restrictions, was effectively pulled out from under them.

Sophie Ingham, 23, flew to Tenerife with her boyfriend Nick Baldwin a week ago and she says she has been left confused by the lack of guidance over the new quarantine.

Speaking to MailOnline she said: ‘We were shocked. 

‘I think it’s ridiculous, we’ve only been here a week and we’ve followed all the rules. We have worn masks when we needed to and not been close to anyone other than each other.

‘We don’t even know if it definitely includes us as it is just mainland Spain that is suffering a second spike, so does this include the islands?

‘It’s all unclear and upsetting as we really cannot quarantine.’

Having boarded their flight home, Sophie claimed that the air stewards were not even aware of the new quarantine rule. 

The couple are now in the air and expect to arrive at Leeds airport around 2.50am.

Having boarded their flight home, Sophie claimed that the air stewards were not even aware of the new quarantine rule.

Chloe Harris, 23 from Kent, booked a last-minute trip to Lanzarote and arrived on the Spanish island this morning.

She told the PA news agency: ‘At the moment we are just waiting to hear whether the quarantine will affect the Spanish islands or if it is just going to be the mainland. 

Small Business Minister Paul Scully is believed to be on holiday on the Spanish Canary Island of Lanzarote, after posting a picture from a beach resort there last night on Instagram

‘When I heard the news I was quite shocked because I thought they would have given us some warning. Even just some warning that this was something they were going to consider.

‘We only booked the trip on Wednesday and we are only here for a few days. We had done our research and we knew that the island has only had a small number of Covid cases.

‘I think a lot of people are going to rush to the airport, but because we are only here for four days, and we only arrived this morning, it doesn’t seem worth it. We are just going to wait and hear if the island is included in the quarantine.

‘I would probably be fine to continue working from home and quarantine from home, although I would have to stop going into the office. However, my friend who I travelled with is due to start a new job on August 3 and so that’s going to be difficult to explain to her employer.’  

Bathers enjoy the beach in Cadiz, in southern Spain, on July 24 

Tourists in Spain faced a race against time to fly back home to avoid the mandatory two-week quarantine that came into effect last night

John Blackmore, from Hampshire, was due to fly out to his family in Spain with his wife and two young children. But the new rules mean he has had to cancel, for fears his wife’s employer would not be able to accommodate her taking an extra two weeks off to quarantine on their return.

He said it was unlikely they would get a refund for the flight, as it has not been cancelled.

‘I’m devastated,’ he told the BBC. ‘I have family in Spain who haven’t seen their only grandkids since Christmas.’ 

Is global second wave ALREADY upon us? Nearly 40 nations report record single-day rises in Covid cases as public lose faith in governments’ handling of crisis 

Almost 40 countries have reported record single-day increases in coronavirus infections, as the World Health Organisation warns there is no return to the ‘old normal’.

The rate of cases has been rapidly increasing in the United States, Brazil, India, Japan and Australia, among others. 

Hong Kong, Bolivia, Sudan and Ethiopia have also seen rises in cases, according to a Reuters tally. 

The data, compiled from official reports, shows a steady rise in the number of countries reporting record daily increases in coronavirus cases across the past month. 

Bulgaria, Belgium, Uzbekistan and Israel have also seen record single-day rises across the past month, according to Reuters.

Three weeks ago, at least seven countries had reported record increases, which rose to at least 13 countries two weeks ago. 

After rising to at least 20 countries last week, the number of countries that have reported record daily increases has now reached 37. 

A new daily record figure has been recorded in Spain, which is said to be likely to deter tourists from visiting one of the continent’s most popular destinations.

A separate survey has also shown that the world has set a new record for the highest daily increase in coronavirus infections.

More than 280,000 new cases were recorded globally on both Thursday and Friday, the highest daily rises since the virus emerged, according to an AFP count based on official sources. 

Friday’s tally of 282,042 was marginally down on Thursday’s single-day record 284,661 but still shows an alarming uptick in the spread of the virus. 

This comes after the WHO has warned everyone to treat their behaviour amid the coronavirus pandemic as ‘life-and-death decisions’.

‘We will not be going back to the ‘old normal’. The pandemic has already changed the way we live our lives,’ World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said this week. 

‘We’re asking everyone to treat the decisions about where they go, what they do and who they meet with as life-and-death decisions – because they are.’ 

A separate report has also showed that governments are quickly losing support for their handling of the pandemic.

A survey, released on Saturday, showed that faith in authorities in dwindling across six nations, as governments worldwide have struggled to contain the virus. 

People widely believe that death and infection figures are higher than recorded in France, Germany, Britain, Japan, Sweden and the US widely believed death and infection figures to be higher than recorded, according to a study which polled 1,000 people in each nation.

‘In most countries this month, support for national governments is falling,’ the report by the Kekst CNC communications consulting group said.

The United States has this week passed more than 4 million cases and recorded more than 1,000 deaths for four consecutive days. 

Brazil and India, which epidemiologists say is still likely months away from hitting its peak, have also exceeded one million cases. 

In Australia, officials enforced a six-week partial lockdown and made face masks mandatory for residents in the country’s second-largest city, Melbourne, after a fresh outbreak. 

After Mexico posted a daily record this week, officials warned that a downward trend in case numbers that began in mid-June could reverse.   

Based on the rate of hospital admissions over the past week, Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said hospitalisation levels by October could exceed those registered in June.

She said: ‘It is important to recognise that if we do not change the trend, there could be exponential growth.’ 

Kenya recorded a high daily case number less than two weeks after reopening domestic passenger flights.   

President Uhuru Kenyatta, who had announced international flights would resume on August 1, has called officials to an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss the surge in cases.   

On Saturday, South Korea reported its highest infections figure in nearly four months, and in Vietnam the first locally-transmitted case in nearly 100 days was detected. 

This comes after authorities in China said, on Friday, that they would introduce a new wave of testing in the port city of Dalian, home to about six million people, after fresh infections were detected there. 

The local government’s health commission said the city must ‘enter wartime mode’ to prevent further any spread. 

It also announced on-the-spot nucleic acid tests for people using the subway system and will impose new lockdowns for some communities. 

The WHO’s European chapter has expressed concern about the rise in cases on the continent in the past two weeks and warned tighter restrictions may be needed. 

‘The recent resurgence in COVID-19 cases in some countries following the easing of physical distancing measures is certainly cause for concern,’ a WHO Europe spokeswoman told AFP.

‘If the situation demands, reintroduction of stricter, targeted measures with the full engagement of communities may be needed.’ 

Nearly a third of the world’s 15.8 million infections have been registered since July 1, while the total death toll nears 640,000. 

Divina Encarnación tweeted: ‘I just landed in Spain, how and when are we supposed to get back? The UK government is a joke, thanks for ruining my holidays.’

While Alasdair Murray tweeted to say it would have been better if all flights had just been cancelled instead.  

Neil Hunter, 45, from Sittingbourne in Kent, had booked a 10-day break to Lanzarote, leaving on Tuesday. The trip had been booked since last December.

He told the PA news agency: ‘We were going as a family, my wife Amanda, and teenage daughter Bethany but to be honest, since this announcement, I’m unsure what’s going to happen as I work as a train driver, and I don’t think my employer will accept me having to isolate due to going on holiday.

‘They were calling them air bridges and said go and enjoy your holiday. But there was never a strategy to make air travel and Covid-19 as safe as possible.

‘They have encouraged hundreds of thousands to go to Spain, and I don’t think this will be the only country where we see this. For the airlines, this will be a second repatriation of Brits. It’s a nightmare.’  

As well as among passengers, the decision also sowed uncertainty across the travel industry last night, combined with fears other countries could soon fall off the same safe to travel list.

Speaking after the announcement of the new two-week quarantine rule, aviation analyst Alex Macheras, said: ‘This is going to be incredibly messy.

‘The problem we have is the timing with the traditional holiday period, so there’s this expectation people should be away.’

Meanwhile the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said the new policy could cause a ‘challenge’ for businesses, who may find employees unable to return to work for 14 days due to the quarantine rules – even though they had left the country with the belief they wouldn’t have to quarantine.  

A CBI spokesperson said: ‘The travel industry and wider economy depend on the movement of people and products across borders. Public health must be the first priority, but quarantine policies do remain a challenge for businesses.

‘A continued focus on delivering international travel corridors will help reawaken our economy. This will help protect jobs, investment, and the UK’s future as a global hub.’  

The British Chamber of Commerce has also been critical of the decision. 

Its director general, Adam Marshall, said: ‘Abrupt changes to quarantine measures will be yet another hammer blow for the fragile travel and tourism industries, both here in the UK and overseas.

‘Firms will now have to manage the effects of this unexpected change as returning staff have to quarantine upon their return to the UK.

‘Support measures should be extended to help firms and their employees manage the additional uncertainty generated by this and other government decisions.

‘Businesses will be asking why Spain was on the safe list on Friday, only to be taken off it on Saturday.’

Meanwhile, tourists faced agony over whether to try to get back before the midnight deadline, while those who have booked to go away in the future were forced to consider whether to cancel. 

Experts believe there could be around 600,000 British tourists in Spain at the moment – a low number for peak season when compared to the 18million people who visited last year – and a further 400,000 expats.

The Foreign Office issued a statement explaining that people must halt all plans to travel to Spain unless essential because the country has seen a spike in coronavirus cases.

This comes after holidaymakers in Spain were hit with a nightmare of two-weeks in quarantine after the British government imposed a snap decision to axe it from the safe travel list.

The decision – sparked by a surge of cases in the country –  will affect thousands who had gone on holiday to the Mediterranean hotspot after being told it would be safe.

Spain’s outbreak bottomed out at fewer than 250 new cases a day in June, but the Spanish government is now registering around 1,000 new cases daily. 

The Department for Transport confirmed that travellers returning to any of the UK nations from Spain after midnight last night will have to self-isolate for two weeks as the country has been removed from the travel corridors exemption list.

With the news about the two-week quarantine having seemingly come out of the blue, many Britons were left debating whether to rush home and end their holidays early to avoid the quarantine. 

Now, a Government spokesperson has said that Spain has been removed from the travel corridors exemption list.

In a statement the Foreign Office said: ‘The Joint Biosecurity Centre together with Public Health England have updated their coronavirus assessments of Spain based on the latest data. As a result, Spain has been removed from the lists of countries from which passengers arriving in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are exempted from the need to self-isolate.

‘Protecting public health is our absolute priority and we have taken this decision to limit any potential spread to the UK.

‘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.’

They added that British people already in Spain should follow local health rules and return home as normal, then self-isolate on their return.

A Foreign Office statement also confirmed that: ‘PHE are continuing to monitor the situation in the Balearic and Canary Islands closely. Travellers there should continue to check this advice regularly.’

Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon was the first to confirm the news that Scots returning from Spain will have to quarantine for 14 days.  

The dramatic change in rules leaves the air bridge scheme – designed to stop quarantines between selected countries – in tatters.

And today Spain’s foreign minister has refused to comment on whether the country will now start imposing quarantine rules on people coming from the UK, saying ‘this is not a political exercise’.

‘This is not a tit-for-tat exercise, we will take measures on the basis of epidemiological data,’ Arancha Gonzalez Laya told reporters.

‘If we think that in any country in Europe the epidemiological data requires stricter measures on our side, we will do this – this is not a political exercise, this is not a diplomatic exercise.

‘This is an exercise to protect the health and safety of our citizens – Spaniards as well as tourists who love coming to Spain and whom we hope will continue coming to Spain, because Spain is a safe country.’ 

The drive to promote confidence in the struggling travel industry will also be badly hit by the developments.

However, today the leading association of travel agents and tour operators, ABTA, said public health ‘must be a priority’, but called on the government to reconsider its position on quarantines for holidaymakers returning to Britain from the Canary and Balearic islands. 

A spokesperson for ABTA said: ‘Spain is British holidaymakers’ most popular destination attracting over 18 million of us each year, and the FCO advising against all but essential travel to the mainland will be disappointing to British holidaymakers and the industry alike.

Today the leading association of travel agents and tour operators, ABTA, said public health ‘must be a priority’, but called on the government to reconsider its position on quarantines for holidaymakers returning to Britain from the Canary and Balearic islands. Pictured: Palma de Mallorca in the Balearic islands

Quarantine rule change could impact businesses say commerce chiefs 

The government’s decision to pull its air bridge from Spain could cause disruption for companies who may face losing staff for two weeks while they are in quarantine.

The British Chamber of Commerce also said the move will be a ‘hammer blow’ for the ‘fragile’ tourism industry, both in the UK and abroad.  

The chamber’s Director General, Adam Marshall said:  ‘Firms will now have to manage the effects of this unexpected change as returning staff have to quarantine upon their return to the UK.

‘Support measures should be extended to help firms and their employees manage the additional uncertainty generated by this and other government decisions.’

“Businesses will be asking why Spain was on the safe list on Friday, only to be taken off it on Saturday.

Changes to quarantine rules must be communicated clearly by Government with as much notice as possible.’

‘ABTA has said consistently that protecting public health must be the priority at this time, and it is vital to base decisions about travel on the best health and scientific advice.

‘We suggest the Government considers lifting the quarantine rules for flights to and from certain regions with lower infection rates, or to places such as the Balearic Islands or The Canaries – which are geographically distinct from mainland Spain – to avoid further damage to the UK inbound and outbound tourism industries.’

MailOnline’s Rebecca Davison is in Minorca and speaking about the new quarantine rule she said: ‘We were hoping that, not being on the mainland because it’s so quiet and deserted here that we would be exempt, that it would only be the mainland bit of Spain the rule would apply to. 

‘So we were a little bit surprised to hear that it was here as well because everyone is wearing a mask in the street and there aren’t that many people around.

‘It just seems like it would be safer here than back home.’

Meanwhile, one Briton heading back from Madrid’s Barajas airport today, Emily Harrison, from Essex, said: ‘It’s really bad because it’s just come all of a sudden, it’s not given very much time to prepare so everyone is now panicking.

‘It ruins plans for everybody. We had a wedding to go to and we had plans to visit friends and family who we haven’t seen in a very long time and now we are going to have to cancel all those plans, so it’s really quiet upsetting.’

Passengers arriving to Gatwick Airport from Spain on Sunday morning also expressed their frustration at the change to travel quarantine rules. 

Queues of home-bound Britons today reacted with anger and confusion as they prepared to board a plane from Madrid this morning

It comes after the government last night suddenly pulled its air bridge with Spain with almost immediate effect, following a spike of coronavirus cases in the country, including in popular holiday hot-spots, such as the Catalonia region. Pictured: One passenger wears a face mask and goggles at Madrid Airport

Queues of Britons were seeing waiting to check-in for an Ryanair flight back to England today

Philip Bradby, 55, and Marina Wilson, 40, from Bournemouth, said they had returned from holiday early due to the shut down of the travel corridor with Spain

Jill Witte, 53, arriving back in the country with her two daughters and husband, said the quarantine rule changes would ‘massively’ inconvenience the family

Those disembarking from a flight from Barcelona that landed shortly before 9am now face two weeks of self-isolation.

Retail worker: ‘I won’t be able to go back to work when I return’

A retail worker on holiday in Spain fears she will be unable to return to work for a fortnight when she comes back to England.

Nadine Hickey with her daughter Clara

Nadine Hickey, from Hertfordshire, is currently midway through a 10 day holiday in Majorca – which she booked in January before the outbreak of coronavirus.

But the mother-of-two now faces an anxious wait to find out about her work situation, due to her having to quarantine for 14 days on her return.

Ms Hickey said: ‘We came out because we thought it was fine but now there is a problem and I will have to quarantine for 14 days and I work in retail so I can’t work from home.

‘If I had known this was going to happen I wouldn’t have come.’ 

Philip Bradby, 55, and Marina Wilson, 40, from Bournemouth, said they had returned from holiday early due to the shut down of the travel corridor with Spain.

‘I think it’s quite poor that they did it so instantaneously,’ Mr Bradby said.

Ms Wilson, who has a nine-year-old daughter, commented: ‘They basically changed the rules halfway through which puts us in a very awkward position and lot’s of things to arrange.’  

Jill Witte, 53, arriving back in the country with her two daughters and husband, said the quarantine rule changes would ‘massively’ inconvenience the family.

‘We were shocked, it didn’t look like that was coming, otherwise we wouldn’t have gone,’ she said.

Another 24-year-old traveller from Surrey, who only gave her name as Hannah, said the rule change would affect family plans and her work.

‘We were supposed to return work at the beginning of August, so I’m now going to have to stay away again for another week,’ she said.

Which? travel editor Rory Boland spoke for many when he questioned why the change had not been carried out earlier.

He said: ‘Why on earth was this decision not taken 48hrs ago, when it was clear there was a problem with Spain, and before tens of thousands of UK holidaymakers flew out on Friday as the summer hols started?’

Paul Charles, CEO of the travel consultancy The PC Agency, also took to Twitter to question the move and he said: ‘Surprised that and didn’t alter #Spain travel advice yesterday when #France #Germany and #Norway did. Interesting to see a blanket #Spain advisory instead of a regional one just for #Catalonia. Indicates depth of #UKGovt concern on #Spain.’

The new quarantine being imposed on inbound tourists from Spain will also impact on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s drive to get Britons to ‘go back into work if they can’

Couple among first to be quarantined from Spain blast ‘ridiculous’ government ruling 

Sophie Ingham, 23, flew to Tenerife with her boyfriend Nick Baldwin a week ago and she says she has been left confused by the lack of guidance over the new quarantine.

Speaking to MailOnline she said: ‘We were shocked. 

‘I think it’s ridiculous, we’ve only been here a week and we’ve followed all the rules. We have worn masks when we needed to and not been close to anyone other than each other.

‘We don’t even know if it definitely includes us as it is just mainland Spain that is suffering a second spike, so does this include the islands?

‘It’s all unclear and upsetting as we really cannot quarantine.’

She and her boyfriend are now anxiously waiting at the airport trying to return home before the quarantine is imposed but are unclear whether the midnight deadline affects aircraft that were already out of Spain before the cut off.

‘We fly at 22:10 and land at 02:50 so we have no idea if the quarantine will affect us as the news just says from Sunday Morning.’

She also said that: ‘The government knew the risks when they opened the air bridges and now they are hanging travellers out to dry when a lot of people will not be able to quarantine. 

Minister Simon Clarke said: ‘Britain now has only 9.6 cases per million versus the EU’s average of 12.5. We cannot put this at risk.’

In a typical year, around 18 million Britons travel to Spain for holidays, although numbers are currently reduced because of the pandemic. And 400,000 Britons have a second home there.

Transport Secretary caught out by new quarantine rule 

The Minister in charge of the ‘air bridges’ policy was left red-faced last night after Spain was removed from the list – on the very day that he flew to the country for a family holiday.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps – who jetted out to mainland Spain yesterday morning – could now be forced to quarantine for two weeks upon his return to Britain.

He was instrumental in drawing up the Government’s scheme to create air bridges to scores of countries earlier this month despite concerns he was relaxing restrictions too quickly. Last night, Mr Shapps – an aviation enthusiast who also owns a light aircraft – did not respond to a request for comment.

However, his mobile phone did have a foreign dial tone when called by The Mail on Sunday.

Last night’s surprise announcement comes only a day after a further five countries were added to the quarantine-free list for people travelling to England. Anyone arriving from Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines will not be required to isolate for two weeks on arrival, it was confirmed on Friday.

Popular holiday destinations including Portugal, Thailand and the US remain notable absentees.

The Government said people should continue to check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s travel advice and their insurance policies before travelling overseas.

Ministers have previously warned travel corridors could be closed if coronavirus rates escalate.

Spain’s rise in cases started just a fortnight after its ‘state of alarm’ ended on June 21. A study found three weeks ago that just five per cent of its population had antibodies to the virus, suggesting most people had not been infected.

Speaking about the quarantine decision, Benidorm Mayor Toni Perez said: ‘We very much regret it. In Benidorm we’ve worked a lot to minimise the risks and we haven’t got any problems here at the moment.

‘It’s a very safe destination with beaches which are very well organised and businesses which have established protocols and are applying them.

‘The problem in Spain is in certain areas, but in the end this decision affects us all and especially resorts like ours whose main market is British.

‘We are going to continue working along the lines we have been up to now, knowing that what we’ve been doing has been done well and that we offer a safe destination thanks to the hard work of everyone here.’

He added: ‘These questions of quarantine are something we can’t control but Benidorm will continue to welcome those who want to come here and will continue to offer visitors including foreign tourists maximum health security.’

Toni Mayor, president of the Benidorm and Costa Blanca hotel association Hosbec, described the UK quarantine news as a ‘hammer blow.’

He said: ‘It couldn’t have come at a worse time. It was looking pretty good from August 1.

‘Bookings were up including family bookings and around 85 per cent of our hotels were going to be open and we were looking forward to having at least something of a normal summer.

‘This announcement is going to bring everything crashing down.

‘The British tourists who are already here have got no other option but to stay and self-isolate when they return.

‘But I fear a lot of those who were going to come are now going to cancel.

‘There’s got to be a question mark over whether the tour operators are going to carry on operating as planned.

‘It’s not just places like Benidorm that’s going to suffer, other popular holiday destinations like the Canaries and Majorca are going to be hard hit too.

‘The UK is 18 million holidaymakers every year and the British are Spain’s number one holiday market.’

Chloe Harris (right), 23 from Kent, booked a last-minute trip to Lanzarote and arrived on the Spanish island this morning

He added: ‘There were hotels in Benidorm which were going to open on August 1 with the increased number of British arrivals that will end up staying closed now, and others that had opened but could shut following this announcement.

‘There’s bound to be question marks now about whether the Spanish government should have allowed discos and pubs to open so quickly.

‘But the reality here is this pandemia has been a learning experience for all of us.

What advice are travel companies and airlines giving to customers about travelling to Spain? 

British Airways has today called the government’s decision to cut its air bridge with Spain as a ‘blow for British holidaymakers’.

However the firm said it would continue its flights to and from Spain.

A spokesperson for British Airways told The Mirror: ‘While our flights continue to operate, this is sadly yet another blow for British holidaymakers and cannot fail to have an impact on an already troubled aviation industry.’

Meanwhile easyJet yesterday announced via social media that it would also continue flights to Spain, for now.

The budget airline said customers would be offered ‘some flexibility’ with bookings if they wished to cancelled – including a free transfer of flights or a voucher for the value of their booking.

Budget airline easyJet yesterday announced via social media that it would also continue flights to Spain, for now

In a tweet, the airline said: ‘We are monitoring the situation and continue to provide some flexibility for those who, if they no longer wish to travel, can transfer flights without a change fee or receive a voucher for the value of their booking.

‘We plan to operate our full schedule in the coming days.’

Holiday firm TUI, the UK’s biggest tour operator, has cancelled all flights to Spain.

The news, announced last night, is in line with the operator’s policy not to fly customers to countries which require them to quarantine on their return.

Andrew Flintham, managing director of Tui UK and Ireland, told Sky News: ‘We’re incredibly disappointed that we didn’t get more notice of this announcement, or that this decision wasn’t made yesterday, as many Brits travel on holiday at the weekend. 

‘The health and safety of our customers and colleagues is always our highest priority and welcome travel advice that protects those that holiday with us.’ 

Tour operator Jet2.com said it was continuing to run its scheduled programme of flights to and from mainland Spain, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands.

A spokesperson said: ‘We are still operating flights and holidays to four destinations in mainland Spain (Costa de Almeria, Alicante, Malaga and Murcia), which are open and are located away from areas which have been impacted by increased cases of Covid-19.

‘In light of the updated advice from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), we are in the process of reviewing options for customers due to travel to these four destinations.’

They added: ‘We are also continuing to operate flights and holidays to our destinations in the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands as scheduled.

‘Because the FCO travel advice to these destinations remains unchanged, our usual terms and conditions apply.

‘As always, we advise customers to purchase appropriate travel insurance before travelling.’

‘It’s a very complicated situation. I think we can wave goodbye to any hopes of a normal summer now with this announcement.

‘I’m obviously very concerned about the outlook for the future.’

The new quarantine will also come as devastating news to the tourism industry which had only just begun to awaken.

British Airways said the Government’s change to travel quarantine rules in relation to Spain were ‘yet another blow for British holidaymakers’.

Which? travel editor Rory Boland tweeted to ask why a quarantine was not imposed on returning tourists sooner with all signs from Spain pointing to a second outbreak of coronavirus

In a statement, the airline said: ‘While our flights continue to operate, we are disappointed that the Government is now advising against all but essential travel to mainland Spain and re-introducing quarantine for holidaymakers returning from Spain with immediate effect, throwing thousands of Britons’ travel plans into chaos.

‘This is sadly yet another blow for British holidaymakers and cannot fail to have an impact on an already troubled aviation industry.’

Airlines UK, the industry association representing UK-registered carriers, said in a statement: ‘The advice is clear that people already in Spain should return home as per normal and check the FCO travel pages.

‘Public health must be the priority but this shows why regional travel corridors need to be considered, so that travel to safe parts of a red country can continue.

‘We also need to see the introduction of testing at UK airports so that those who are Covid negative can continue to travel without the need to self-isolate upon arrival.

‘We will continue to work closely with Government to protect public health whilst keeping air travel and the wider economy open.’

Some UK tourists currently in Spain took to Twitter to voice their concerns about the bombshell quarantine news

In a statement EasyJet said: ‘We are disappointed that the Government has decided to impose a quarantine requirement for those travelling from the whole of Spain since the increased occurrence of Coronavirus is regional rather than nationwide.

‘We plan to operate our full schedule in the coming days. Customers who no longer wish to travel can transfer their flights without a change fee or receive a voucher for the value of the booking. 

‘Should any flights be cancelled for later in August customers will be notified and informed of their options which includes transferring to an alternative flight free of charge, receiving a voucher or applying for a refund via a webform on our dedicated Covid Help Hub at easyJet.com.’

Travel company TUI has also suspended all their outbound flights from Spain but assured tourists currently in the country that they would be able to return home on their correct flights.

The new quarantine being imposed on inbound tourists from Spain will impact on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s drive to get Britons to ‘go back into work if they can’.

In a shift from the government’s ‘work from home if you can’ edict, the Prime Minister suggested people should return to the office if it is ‘safe’.

However, with many people returning from Spain set to be stuck indoors because of the two-week quarantine, it will be impossible for many people currently holidaying in Spain to follow the new guidelines.

There are also fears that France could be the next country hit by a second wave of the virus.

With signs from Spain over the past week suggesting that the country was being hit by a second wave of coronavirus, the decision to impose a quarantine tonight has been met by questions as to why it was not put in place sooner. 

This come after King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain donned facemasks during a mass as part of their tour of the country.

The royal couple were pictured this morning at a mass to mark the Day of Galicia at the church of San Martino Pinario in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia.

It comes as Spain recorded 2,255 more coronavirus cases in 24 hours and Catalonia shut it’s nightclubs down for two weeks amid fears of a second wave.

The Catalan government went ahead with its threat to close discos across the entire region as the number of cases rose to 319,501 yesterday.

King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain have been travelling around the country to better understand the impact of the virus. Pictured at a mass to mark the Day of Galicia at the church of San Martino Pinario in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia

Nightclub owners were told they must shut their doors for the next fortnight.

The move comes as Spanish health officials admitted they could be dealing with a second coronavirus wave.

The regions of Catalonia and Aragon are the two worst-affected areas.

Five areas of Spain have now been put into lockdown to curb the spread of the virus; Catalonia, Zaragoza, Pamplona, Totana and A Marina. 

Meanwhile, King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain have been travelling around the country to better understand the impact of the virus. 

Barcelona earlier this week said it was reducing the maximum number of people who could use its beaches at any one time from 38,000 to 32,000 as officials urged sun seekers to avoid weekend peak periods.

The Catalan government has gone ahead with its threat to close discos across the entire region as the number of cases rose to 319,501 yesterday. Pictured, Barcelona on July 19

Last weekend Barcelona residents were asked to stay at home wherever possible as town hall chiefs tried to encourage voluntary quarantine to stem the spread of coronavirus.

Catalan president Quim Torra admitted earlier this week his government was looking at the possibility of ordering the closure of discos across the region of nearly eight million inhabitants.

The move affects all establishments with disco or music hall licences. 

Respected Catalan daily El Periodico said the closure order also affected late-night pubs, although a tweet from regional health chiefs said simply: ‘The opening to the public of discos, music halls and nightspots licenced to put on shows has been suspended across Catalunya.’

This graph shows Spain’s new coronavirus cases for the past two weeks. It recorded an additional 2,255 new cases. The large spike of 4,000 cases is a result of the country stopping reporting cases over weekends

This graph of the entire coronavirus outbreak shows that cases are rising increasingly fast but are still behind the 9,000-a day at the peak of the outbreak 

This graph of the entire coronavirus outbreak shows the number of coronavirus deaths per day in Spain, and shows fatalities are yet to start increasing along with the rise in cases

Would you like a straw with that? Drug-dealers give away FREE face masks and snorting straws with grams of cocaine in Mallorca 

Health-conscious drug dealers have been giving away free masks to Brits buying cocaine in Mallorca, it has been revealed.  

The pushers, who operate in tourist hotspot Palmer and are flogging the powder for €100-a-gram, throw in a face mask and a special snorting straw ‘free of charge’ with each purchase. 

The new sales initiative was spotted by one stunned ex-pat who managed to capture pictures of the bizarre package.

The ex-pat, who did not want to be named, told MailOnline: ‘It was difficult to believe someone selling something so dangerous would be so concerned about health.

Drug dealers, who operate in tourist hotspot Palmer and are flogging the powder for €100-a-gram, throw in a face mask and a special snorting straw ‘free of charge’ with each purchase

The new sales initiative was spotted by one stunned ex-pat who managed to capture pictures of the bizarre package. Pictured, snorting straws

‘In Spain the authorities are extremely strict on masks. When you go into toilets you have to wear a mask, so the giveaway with the cocaine obviously facilitates going in there without a problem.’

They said the free tubes were being sold in multiple colours to help people keep track and avoid sharing with others.  

‘The tubes are to tackle the issue with notes now, which users usually have to snort the coke. Now they have got these tubes, which are even colour-coded so people don’t accidentally share them,’ they added.

‘I don’t know if this is something that all dealers are doing, but it certainly is enterprising.’

Photographs show the ex-pat holding four straws of different lengths and colours; blue, yellow, black and red.   

Spanish daily El Pais said the two-week ban, introduced at midnight, also applied to hotels with dance floors laying on musical entertainment.

Bars and restaurants in the areas where the highest number of Covid-19 cases have been confirmed in the past few days, including Barcelona city centre and surrounding sleeper towns as well as municipalities in Girona further north including Figueres, have to close by midnight.

French PM Jean Castex has urged the country’s citizens to avoid travelling to Catalonia because of the health situation there.

Josep Maria Argimon, the secretary of Public Health of Catalonia, admitted its health system was facing ‘critical days.’

He added: ‘We’re not in critical days like in March, when our hospital intensive care units were full.

People sitting on beach towels on Cala de Alfacar, Menorca, earlier this week amid fears of a second wave of coronavirus cases in Spain 

‘Now what’s critical is that people follow all the rules and guidelines to ensure the spread of the virus slows down.’

The Catalan late-night entertainment shutdown follows a path being taken by other regions in Spain, although the Balearic Islands had been the only other one to take the draconian measure ahead of the spike of new cases.

Late-night bars in Murcia have been told they can only serve customers outside who are sat down in places like terraces where social distancing is guaranteed.

UK’s air bridge to Spain could be dropped without notice  

British tourists have been warned that a new travel system means air bridges could collapse at short notice leaving them facing a quarantine on return to the UK.  

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office earlier this month set out exemptions for a number of countries from its ‘all but essential’ travel guidance. 

It means that currently holidaymakers can travel to 74 locations without having to quarantine for 14 days upon their return to the UK.

However Britain currently reviews all the countries on the ‘safe list’ every three weeks. But the government is expected to unveil a new rolling review list that means places could be on a ‘red list’ at very short notice, as reported by The Telegraph.

This means you could go abroad to a country on the ‘safe’ list for your holiday, but while away a spike in coronavirus cases could mean the government could place it on the ‘red’ list, meaning you would have to quarantine for 14-days upon your return. 

In Navarra, which includes the city of Pamplona where the famous Running of the Bulls normally takes place every year, emergency measures are being brought in which will include the closure of nightspots at 2am.

Officials in Madrid also said yesterday they were studying plans to bring in new limitations on the region’s nightlife which would revolve around reductions in the number of people inside and outside bars and clubs at any one time.

A lockdown in the municipality of Totana in Murcia, south east Spain was the result of a Covid-19 outbreak centred on a pub called Dubai.

More than 50 people at the nightspot tested positive for the virus.

Around 30,000 residents are affected by the Totana lockdown, with entry and exit into the municipality banned except in cases of extreme necessity.

Restaurants and bars are only allowed to open outside terrace areas with 50 per cent capacity.

It comes after France told its citizens not to travel to Catalonia. 

Norway has also re-imposed quarantine rules for people arriving from Spain while Britons have been warned that air bridges could be axed at short notice, leaving them vulnerable to two weeks of isolation when they return to the UK. 

Although the UK government kept Spain on its ‘green list’ of countries that do not require quarantines, officials have indicated that this could change without notice if the rise in Spanish cases gets worse. 

Some British holidaymakers are cancelling their trips and TUI has said it will cancel packages to Spain if returning travellers are forced to go into a 14-day quarantine when they return to the UK. 

France and Germany also today announced that all returning travellers will be given a free coronavirus test amid fears that the holiday season is driving a surge in cases on the continent. 

In response to the threat, authorities in the Costa del Sol have ordered people running along the beach to wear face masks. 

People doing sport had previously been exempted from using the face coverings across Spain.

But Mijas Town Hall has now said its Senda Litoral, based around a long boardwalk that connects existing paths and promenades and stretches across most of the municipality’s coastline, will be out of bounds to people practising sport unless they mask up.

The decision was taken after town hall chiefs were told social distancing could not be guaranteed.

Mijas, which lies between Marbella to the west and Fuengirola to the east, is a popular destination for British holidaymakers and home to thousands of expats.

It is believed to be the first local authority in Spain to make face masks obligatory in part of its public outdoor spaces for people out exercising.

The Senda Litoral is a project involving 14 Costa del Sol municipalities designed to connect more than 110 miles of coastline with existing paths and seafront promenades.

It raises the prospect other town halls along the famous coastline will follow suit, effectively banishing sports enthusiasts from enjoying seaside jogs at any time of the day.

The use of face masks in Spain has gradually been tightened up. They are now obligatory almost everywhere in public outdoors across the country, having been obligatory in public in closed spaces like shops as well as public transport for some time.

French health officials have recorded 4,724 new cases already this week, up from 3,922 from last Monday to Friday and 3,792 in the working week before that

Madrid and the Canary Islands are the only two regions who allow people to ditch them in public spaces outdoors where social distancing can be guaranteed.

Exceptions on where they have to be used vary from region to region. Most places with coastline have exempted beaches but Andalucia which includes the Costa del Sol insists on their use on beaches unless sunbathers are sat on the sand or heading to and from the water for a swim.

One of Spain’s top health officials warned that the country could be suffering a second wave of coronavirus amid an alarming increase in cases that has sparked numerous local lockdowns. 

Deputy emergency health director Maria Jose Sierra has revealed her concerns over the spike in Covid-19 cases as the country recorded an additional 2,255 new cases today.

Brits cancel trips to Spain amid fears they will have to go into 14-day quarantine when they get back if airbridge is cancelled

British holidaymakers are cancelling their trips to Spain amid fears they will be forced to go into a 14-day quarantine when they return to the UK.

Sun-seekers fear the UK government may scrap its air bridge agreement with Spain amid growing concerns of a second spike.

Such a move would leave holidaymakers out in Spain facing two-weeks of self-isolation on their return to the UK – even though they wouldn’t have had to at the time of leaving.

It comes as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office today cut its three-weekly review of the 74 air bridges to just a week, while health officials in Spain have raised concerns over a second coronavirus spike.

One holidaymaker, Lynn Carratt, 39, says she has cancelled her trip to Spain fearing the government will take the country off the air bridge list when it reviews the scheme on Monday. 

One holidaymaker, Lynn Carratt (pictured), 39, from London, says she has cancelled her trip to Spain fearing the government will take the country off the air bridge list when it reviews the scheme on Monday

Mrs Carratt, who is from London and is the director of PR firm E20 Communications, was due to fly to Majorca tomorrow for a week-long holiday with her husband, but has now swapped her flights from Spain to Greece.

She told MailOnline: ‘It is a worry. When the air bridges come up for review on Monday it does look like Spain is one of those countries that is a risk.

 ‘We didn’t want to be on holiday and on Monday Spain is taken off the list and then we will be forced to quarantine for two weeks.’ 

The couple will instead fly out to Crete tomorrow – just a year after they married in the Greek island of Santorini.

She added: ‘Greece only had something like 27 cases today across the mainland and the islands. Spain had 2,615 yesterday.

‘Anyone can catch coronavirus, it is just about being sensible and the right measures and protection to keep yourself safe.’

Another holidaymaker told MailOnline: ‘We were supposed to be in Spain now.

‘We had a month trip booked to spend with our daughter and son-in-law that lives out there.

‘But we cancelled it and even then when the air bridge was put in we did not re-book as fears because of this and obviously not wanting to risk catching coronavirus.’

Ms Sierra said: ‘We have important outbreaks. It could be a second wave. We’ll have to see what happens in the next few weeks.’  

In the past 24 hours, some 922 new infections were diagnosed, the ministry said, compared with 971 the previous day. 

France’s prime minister Jean Castex said ‘we strongly encourage French citizens to avoid’ going to Catalonia, which has seen nearly 8,000 new cases in the last two weeks.  

French health officials are also concerned about steadily increasing coronavirus cases in their own country, having recorded 4,724 new cases this week, up from 3,922 from a week earlier.    

Sierra’s comments mark the first time a senior Spanish health official has used the expression ‘ second wave’ since a spike in the number of Covid-19 cases following the end of the country’s state of emergency on June 21. 

The Spanish tourism industry, which accounts for around 12 per cent of the nation’s economy, now faces uncertainty after the country’s borders were reopened to tourists with great fanfare last month.  

And Spanish epidemiologist Juan Jose Badiola said he could not rule out a national return to the draconian state of emergency lockdown, when people were ordered to stay indoors unless it was to go to buy food or head to the chemist’s.

People wearing face masks walk along La Misericordia Beach, Malaga, earlier this week as Spain faces a fresh blow to its tourism industry due to coronavirus 

He told Spanish TV station Telecinco today ‘I would like to think we don’t have to go back to that but I can’t rule it out completely because the rate of new infections is becoming very worrying.’

The region of Murcia sealed off 30,000 people in the town of Totana earlier this week, barring anyone from entering or leaving after 55 cases linked to a nightlife venue.

Elsewhere, restrictions have been tightened in Zaragoza and Pamplona while millions of people have been urged to stay at home in Catalonia, including in Barcelona. 

Brits WILL have to wear masks while exercising in Spain 

British holidaymakers wanting to go for a morning run along part of the Costa del Sol coastline have been told they too will have to wear face masks.

People doing sport had previously been exempted from using the face coverings across Spain.

But Mijas Town Hall has now said its Senda Litoral, based around a long boardwalk that connects existing paths and promenades and stretches across most of the municipality’s coastline, will be out of bounds to people practising sport unless they mask up.

The decision was taken after town hall chiefs were told social distancing could not be guaranteed.

Mijas, which lies between Marbella to the west and Fuengirola to the east, is a popular destination for British holidaymakers and home to thousands of expats.

It is believed to be the first local authority in Spain to make face masks obligatory in part of its public outdoor spaces for people out exercising.

People sunbathing at the La Misericordia Beach, Malaga, this week as the Spanish tourism industry faces uncertainty

In Galicia, the last movement restrictions were lifted in A Marina yesterday but 350 people are still under observation at home and four are in hospital after an outbreak in the area. 

Other Spanish health officials are more confident that the spurt in cases will decline.   

Tourism Minister Maria Reyes Maroto tried to put a positive on an increasingly worrying situation by insisting the health situation in Catalonia and Aragon, the country’s two worst affected areas, was ‘getting better’.

Which parts of Spain are facing new lockdowns? 

TOTANA: Murcia’s regional government put Totana back in lockdown with 30,000 people banned from entering or leaving the area after 55 cases linked to a nightlife venue. 

BARCELONA: Millions of people have been urged to stay at home in Catalonia and gatherings are restricted to 10 people. 

PAMPLONA: Restrictions re-imposed in Navarre’s capital with limited numbers in shops, bars and places of worship

ZARAGOZA: Zaragoza and some other areas of Aragon are back under ‘phase 2’ rules with gatherings limited to 10 people and bars ordered to close at midnight. 

A MARINA: Movement restrictions were lifted on Thursday, but 350 people are still under observation and four in hospital after a significant outbreak.  

Josep Maria Argimon, the secretary of Public Health of Catalonia, admitted its health system was facing ‘critical days.’

He added: ‘We’re not in critical days like in March, when our hospital intensive care units were full. Now what’s critical is that people follow all the rules and guidelines to ensure the spread of the virus slows down.’

France has said it would not rule out closing its border with the Catalan region of Spain as it experiences a ‘significant rise’ in infections, according to the French public health authority.   

Catalonia, which borders France, has been at the heart of a rebound in coronavirus cases since Spain lifted a nationwide lockdown one month ago.

Nearly 7,000 cases have been logged there in the past 14 days, accounting for almost half the nationwide total, though the rate has dropped in the past days. 

Norway has similarly warned that it may add Spain to its list of high-risk countries which would mean that all arrivals would be forced into a ten-day quarantine. 

Restrictions on late night bars and discos have been implemented in several Spanish towns and regions ahead of what is being seen as a critical weekend for Spain’s attempts to turn the tide in its battle against a second wave of cases.

Any nationwide return to lockdown would prove to be another blow to the Spanish economy after two thirds of tourists cancelled their hotel bookings this month. 

Cancellation rates are as high as 77 per cent among families and 70 per cent in the Balearic Islands which include Mallorca. 

At some hotels, the number of tourists cancelling holidays that they booked several weeks or months ago is higher than the number of new bookings. 

Elizabeth Keegan, director of tourism in Lloret de Mar, said: ‘We are getting cancellations from Britain, France and Belgium.

‘The 120 hotels here are about 65 per cent full and they are normally 100 per cent full at this time of year.’   

Spain has recorded more than 9,000 new cases in the last seven days after seeing only 5,000 in the previous week.

Women wearing face masks walk along La Misericordia Beach, Malaga, earlier this week amid the coronavirus crisis

According to research by tourism group Dingus, visitors who booked their trips between two and four months ago have cancelled more than 80 per cent of their holidays. 

Cancellation rates overall are as high as 70 per cent in the Balearic Islands and 64 per cent in Spain as a whole. 

While tourists travelling alone have cancelled 54 per cent of their reservations, families have scrapped as many as 77 per cent of their trips, the data shows.   

The UK government has not made any changes in its rules regarding Spain, after scrapping the 14-day quarantine rule for people returning from Spain to England after July 10. 

Scotland also exempted Spain from its own 14-day rules this week after initially keeping it on the quarantine list. 

But it comes after British tourists were warned that a new travel system means air bridges could collapse at short notice leaving them facing a quarantine on return to the UK.  

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office earlier this month set out exemptions for a number of countries from its ‘all but essential’ travel guidance. 

It means that currently holidaymakers can travel to 74 locations without having to quarantine for 14 days upon their return to the UK.

However Britain currently reviews all the countries on the ‘safe list’ every three weeks. But the government is expected to unveil a new rolling review list that means places could be on a ‘red list’ at very short notice, as reported by The Telegraph.

Portugal blasts UK for not following ‘facts’ as it’s left OFF quarantine-free travel list

Portugal vented its fury at Britain today as ministers refused to remove the popular holiday destination from its quarantine list.

Ministers updated a list of nations from which arrivals would be exempt from 14-day isolation this afternoon but the popular holiday destination was still missing from it.

It was left off when the system was launched three weeks ago amid fears at its level of coronavirus infections, promoting initial anger in Lisbon.

The refusal to change it today sparked further uproar in Portugal, which relies heavily on tourism, with foreign minister Augusto Santos Silva saying the decision was ‘not backed by facts’.

But five other nations have been placed on the approved air bridge list:  Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia, Slovenia and the Caribbean islands’ nation of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The change will come into effect from Tuesday.

The need for holidaymakers returning to Britain from Portugal to quarantine for 14 days has particularly affected the southern Algarve region, popular among Britons for its sandy beaches and golf courses.

Other European nations including Ireland, Belgium and Finland have also imposed travel restrictions on Portugal.

But Spain remains on the UK list of nations cleared for quarantine-free travel, despite fears it is suffering a second peak of infections.

This means you could go abroad to a country on the ‘safe’ list for your holiday, but while away a spike in coronavirus cases could mean the government could place it on the ‘red’ list, meaning you would have to quarantine for 14-days upon your return. 

There are also discussions of’regional’ air bridges could be set up to allow people to travel to specific areas of countries where there are lower rates of coronavirus infections. 

The government of the Balearic Islands insists that the archipelago is ‘safe for residents and visitors’, but some tourists have become alarmed by the growth in cases. 

The ‘regional’ air bridges plan could see low risk areas identified in high risk countries which travellers would be able visit without then being subject to 14-day quarantine rules upon their return. 

Such a move would mean the end of outright travel bans on entire countries and represent a further easing of quarantine rules. 

It is thought the air bridge plan is being looked at as part of a review of current travel restrictions, with changes due to be announced by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on Monday.  

The introduction of ‘regional’ air bridges could open up travel to tourist hotspots like The Algarve and Madeira in Portugal while keeping a ban on going to areas like Lisbon where coronavirus is more prevalent.  

It could also allow for the return of some travel to the US amid fears the national scale of its outbreak could result in a long term ban.  

A source told The Telegraph: ‘Regional air bridges are an option for countries with localised outbreaks. 

‘The US is a major issue. If you judge it nationally, the absence of travel could go on for months, which is where individual testing of arrivals could work.’

Gloria Guevara, president of the World Travel and Tourism Council, told The Times: ‘The establishment of air corridors between financial centres where infection levels are low, such as between London and New York, would provide a vital boost to business travel and aid the economic recovery.’  

Meanwhile, ministers are also believed to be looking at introducing coronavirus tests before or on arrival at UK airports in a further measure which could reopen travel to the US. 

Mr Shapps will set out on Monday any changes to the current travel rules and announce whether any countries will be added to the 74 which are already exempt from the 14-day quarantine requirement. 

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