TRANSPORT Secretary Grant Shapps has defended the government’s quarantine U-turn on Spain as he arrived back in Britain for two weeks of self-isolation.
He headed back after pressure to deal with the fallout from the sudden decision to impose quarantine restrictions on travellers returning from Spain at the weekend.
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After landing back in the UK Mr Shapps insisted the government “had to act” after a Covid-19 surge in Spain.
But Saturdays bombshell announcement sparked chaos and gave holidaymakers just five hours notice.
Arriving home with his suitcase today, Mr Shapps said: “I very much understand, obviously it had an impact on me and my family.
“And I’m very very sorry and upset for the thousands of Brits who are either away or perhaps even hadn’t even managed to go away this summer as well to Spain.
“But it was absolutely essential we acted when we did, it is why all four nations of the United Kingdom acted together and the figures since have turned out to justify that action.
“We have to have a clear message and act by adding entire countries to that list for the time being.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also warned of a second coronavirus wave emerging in Europe as a 14-day quarantine for travellers returning from Spain was introduced to stop the spread of the bug.
It came as defiant Brits travelling to Spain today say they are more worried about bars being shut than catching coronavirus.
Travellers jetted off to Spain from Manchester and Newcastle airports despite the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advising them not to.
Quarantine didn’t deter Bolton hairdresser Jacob Daniels, 23, who travelled from Manchester to stay with family in Tenerife for a week.
“I think it’s quite safe over in Spain but whatever happens happens – I’m more worried about the bars being shut,'” he said.
“I’m going to quarantine for two weeks when I get back because I work for myself so it should be fine.”
Mr Daniels said he wouldn’t mind being stuck in Tenerife because “the weather’s nice”.
Pals Elizabeth Hughes, 64, and Joanne O’Callaghan, 44, from Preston, flew to France, while Elizabeth’s husband returns from Spain today.
Elizabeth said her husband has been stuck in Spain since March, and she was travelling to Joanne’s new place in France.
If we get stuck in France, the government will fly us back anyway because we’re British, so we’re not bothered
“I am quite anxious but we bought the flights last week when we thought everything was easing off,” Elizabeth said.
“If we get stuck in France, the government will fly us back anyway because we’re British, so we’re not bothered.”
Meanwhile, Ryanair buck up and help desperate Brits get refunds and reschedule their holidays after the firm refused to cancel flights, the Culture Secretary demanded today.
Oliver Dowden called on the flight firm to step up and be “flexible” after the Government advised against all but essential travel to Spain.
Thousands of flights have been cancelled by major travel companies, but Ryanair has said theirs will continue to go ahead – leaving passengers having to quarantine when they get home or face losing their money.
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Some people may be able to get refunds for the flights if they booked their travel insurance before the coronavirus outbreak – but newer policies won’t cover it.
Today Mr Dowden called on the airline to see sense and scrap the flights so Brits could get their money back.
He told BBC Breakfast: “I really think that airlines like Ryanair and indeed any other other travel operators should show a degree of flexibility and understanding to their customers.”