More than 50,000 people have backed a call for the government to "rethink" its decision to reintroduce a 14-day self-isolation requirement for those arriving in the UK from Spain.
Spain was granted a UK quarantine exemption or "travel corridor" earlier this month, as well as an exemption from the Foreign Office’s advisory against all non-essential travel.
However, owing to localised spikes in coronavirus infection in several parts of Spain, the government on Saturday (25 July) announced – with just a few hours notice – it was from midnight on Saturday into Sunday revoking Spain’s travel corridor, meaning arrivals from Spain will once again have to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab said the government would not shy away from making quick, decisive decisions in the interest of public health, adding ministers would make no apologies for the difficulties such a move – made at such short notice – would cause both travellers, and the travel sector.
It comes after the government quickly withdrew Serbia’s travel corridor earlier this month owing to an increase in coronavirus infection.
The government’s decision on Spain, though, has left many deeply frustrated, particularly with both the Balearic and Canary islands experiencing a significantly lower rate of coronavirus infection than other parts of the country – and the UK itself.
This discrepancy is exemplified in the Foreign Office’s stance on Spain; it is now advising against all but essential travel to mainland Spain, but not to the Balearics or the Canaries.
Jet2.com and Jet2holidays has defied the conventional wisdom of cancelling trips that defy a Foreign Office advisory against all but essential travel by maintaining its mainland Spain programme, stating the four mainland destinations it is offering are "open and located away from areas which have been impacted by increased cases of Covid-19".
Now, tens of thousands of people have petitioned prime minister Boris Johnson and his government to rethink its stance on Spain, starting by excluding the Balearics and the Canaries from its quarantine requirement.
Lee Sparrow, who started the petition, said he had been "saddened" by the decision to reimpose a quarantine requirement on those returning from Spain, stressing his understanding from Spanish news reports, residents and the FCO was that the islands were "very safe to travel to" and had few cases of Covid.
"Holidaymakers returning from the islands have expressed they felt safer during their stay on the islands than at home in the UK," said Sparrow. "They have also expressed how everybody is adhering to the rules of social distancing, and mask wearing.
"Therefore, we ask the 14-day quarantine restriction be lifted for the Balearic [and] Canary Islands to support the local economy [and the] people who have worked hard to get everything in place for the reopening."
Sparrow added the move would impact many families who would have saved all year to get away, particularly after the "awful and unprecedented" start to 2020.
"We ask that you please reconsider the 14-day quarantine from the safe Balearic [and] Canary islands and continue to let people enjoy their well-earned holidays," said Sparrow.