Tui (TUI.L) has cancelled all holidays to Spain after the UK government suddenly moved to re-impose quarantine restrictions on those returning from the country on Saturday afternoon.
This means that from Sunday anyone arriving back to the UK from Spain and the islands will need to self-isolate for 14 days after coronavirus second wave fears saw the European country struck off the UK’s safe list.
The UK’s biggest tour operator said it had axed all flights due to depart to mainland Spain, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands on Sunday.
Last week Scotland added Spain to its safe list of countries before Saturday evening’s dramatic U-turn. Northern Ireland and Wales have also followed suit in suspending the travel corridor.
Managing director Andrew Flintham confirmed Tui would contact customers to arrange refunds or rebookings, but voiced “disappointment that the company didn’t get more notice of the announcement, or that this decision wasn’t made yesterday, as many Brits travel on holiday at the weekend.”
A UK Government spokesman 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.”
Previously authorities in Spain warned the country that lost 28,000 lives before getting its outbreak under control could be facing the start of a second major outbreak.
On Thursday, the Spanish health ministry reported 971 new daily infections, the biggest daily increase since Spain’s lockdown ended. In an attempt to halt new infection clusters, Catalonia became the latest region to crack down on nightlife.
Other operators such as British Airways and easyJet (EZJ.L) are planning to continue flying as usual.
The move comes after the government recently announced that people returning from Portugal would have to quarantine and left Spain off the UK travel restrictions list, which asses guidelines for holidays due to COVID-19. The government said the list would be reviewed weekly, previously it was reviewed every three weeks.
The Foreign Office has advised against all but essential travel to mainland Spain.