The UK government’s sudden withdrawal of Spain’s quarantine free air corridor status has caused concern for holidaymakers across the country creating widespread uncertainty. As rumours circulate that further countries might have their status reviewed, including Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and Croatia, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that Europe is being engulfed by a second wave. However, as the Spanish decision was taken with less than 4 hours’ notice, it has left thousands in the lurch with questions about holiday cancellation rights, and payment upon return for those who cannot arrange homeworking. With so much confusion surrounding the topic, we aim to answer some of your most common questions.
Is it possible to travel to Spain and other countries that have had their quarantine free status revoked?
The government has stated that travellers can still travel to Spain and its islands, but they do so at their own risk. The Foreign Office has advised against all non-essential travel. Catching the flight itself may provide difficult, with TUI and Jet2 having recently cancelled a range flights including to Ibiza and Majorca. Other cancellations at short notice are to be expected.
How does this impact the validity of my holiday insurance?
It is likely that those already currently in Spain will be covered by their insurance. However, those in future may fall foul of the fact that travelling against the Foreign Office’s advice often invalidates travel insurance. The best course of action is to check the details of any holiday insurance before you purchase it or contact your broker for the latest information.
What do the quarantine rules state?
Upon arrival back in the UK, you must go straight to your home or accommodation and begin your self-isolation period – using public transport for this purpose is allowed. Once you are in self-isolation the only reasons you may leave are to attend a funeral, court, for medical reasons, or to do essential shopping if this cannot be arranged for you by anyone else.
How long do I have to quarantine upon my return?
The rules at the time of writing state that you must self-isolate for 14 days and the quarantine period begins the day AFTER you arrive back in the country. Failure to comply can result in up to a £1000 fine in England.
Will these rules change?
It has been reported that the government is looking at a range of potential options to reduce the 14-day quarantine period – including double testing arrivals from at risk countries. This would mean those who have two negative Coronavirus tests a few days apart would be able to leave quarantine earlier. The government is also looking into setting up regional corridors to Spain so those returning from areas of low risk will not be subject to the quarantine rules. Currently Coronavirus outbreaks tend to be clustered in specific regions.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has stated that travellers should not book holidays believing the quarantine rules will be guaranteed to be the same upon their return and they should take this into consideration when booking a holiday.
Can I cancel my holiday and receive a refund?
Abta the UK’s travel trade association has advised those due to travel to contact their travel provider for details. Britons travelling anywhere in Spain or the islands should be able to get a full refund or credit with the company they booked through. Package holidays should also be refundable, or transferrable to another person. TUI has already offered full refunds and cancellations for all those travelling between the 26th and 9th August will be able to cancel and receive a full refund.
Will my employer pay me for the two weeks of quarantine?
This is at the discretion of individual employers. It is possible they may be able to implement homeworking arrangement or have policies in place to cover this eventuality. However, there is no statutory entitlement to sick pay according to industrial relations body Acas. The quarantine days may be counted as annual leave so your employers can continue to pay you. If you are displaying symptoms of the Coronavirus, you are entitled to statutory sick pay at the rate of £95.58 per week. Those with urgent need may be entitled to Universal Credit or New-Style Employment Allowance.
Is it worth the hassle?
This is the question many potential travellers are asking, and instead thousands have opted to take staycations instead, with camping sites and B&Bs reporting surging demand. If you are considering a staycation instead, take a look at our recent article listing some great places in the UK to spend this summer.