Millions of Brits face having their summer holidays ruined after the Government axed Spain from its safe travel list.
Some 600,000 already there must quarantine on their return.
Others with breaks booked to Spain and nations at risk of being blacklisted may have to cancel.
France and Germany are among countries seeing a jump in cases, raising concerns that they could also be struck off the UK’s safe list.
The Government refused to apologise for its sudden decision to scrap the “air bridge” to Spain, despite criticism from passengers and travel firms.
Labour blasted the “shambolic” handling of the decision saying it had left hundreds of thousands of holidaymakers “confused and distressed”.
Spain is our top holiday destination with millions going every year.
But Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said he “can’t make apologies” for taking rapid action after the country reported more than 900 new daily infections in the past two days.
He admitted the timing of the move was “disruptive”.
Mr Raab added he could not rule out other countries being axed from the safe list if they suffer outbreaks, saying: “There is an element of uncertainty.”
In Benalmadena, near Malaga on the Costa del Sol, the Mirror spoke to Claire Herstell, 47, who arrived on Friday with husband Graham, 48, and children Lynden, 14, and Laila, 13.
Claire, from Manchester said: “We had no idea this was going to happen. We were umming and ahhing about coming but because we booked it independently we would have lost all our money.
“If we knew this was going to happen we wouldn’t have come at all.”
Ministers announced on Saturday night that tourists who had not returned from Spain and its islands by midnight would be forced to stay at home for 14 days when they got back.
It prompted TUI, the UK’s biggest tour operator, to cancel all trips to mainland Spain until August 9. The firm called for “regional travel corridors” and warned the “uncertainty and confusion” were damaging the decimated travel industry.
The Government’s decision was further mired in confusion after it emerged quarantine rules would also apply to the Canary Islands and Balearics, which have lower infection rates. The islands, which are hundreds of miles away from outbreaks on the mainland, also still have “travel corridors” in place with the UK.
What do I do when I get back?
All travellers must quarantine at home for 14 days, including those returning from the Canary Islands or Balearics, which are still on the Foreign Office safe list.
Is Spain safe?
UK Government says there has been a “significant change”. Spain has reported 900 new daily infections for past two days. Spanish authorities say it is a “safe country for tourists”. Spikes are focused in Barcelona, Lleida and Zaragoza, but infection rates are much lower in the rest of the country, including the Costa del Sol.
What do I do if I’m already there?
You should follow the local social distancing rules, return home as normal and check the UK Foreign Office travel advice pages.
What if I have plans to go to Spain this summer?
Foreign Office is advising against all but essential travel to mainland Spain. Tui has cancelled all holidays until August 9. ABTA has advised customers due to travel to Spain to contact travel providers. Travelling to countries against Foreign Office advice invalidates travel insurance.
Can I claim statutory sick pay if I have to quarantine?
Officially, you’re entitled to nothing. The Government is relying on the goodwill of employers. Ultimately, it’s down to your boss.
Spanish foreign minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya said she was in talks with the UK about exempting them.
In the past fortnight, Catalonia – one of several regional hotspots – has seen more than 8,500 new infections while the Balearic Islands had just 92.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who is on holiday in Spain, said he had held a video call with UK airlines and the British Ambassador to help get UK tourists home.
Business minister Paul Scully will also have to quarantine on his return from Playa Dorada, Lanzarote.
He shared a screenshot of the news on social media with the caption: “It’s worth it” and an eye-roll emoji.
Later, he posted an image of a drink adding: “Best turn to gin.”
Mr Raab explained the Government’s move was “absolutely necessary after data on Friday “showed a big jump right across mainland Spain”.
He told Sky News yesterday: “We took the decision as swiftly as we could and we can’t make apologies for doing so.” But Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth said: “The way in which this decision has been made is frankly shambolic.
“There are holidaymakers in Spain confused and distressed, there are people about to go on holiday to Spain and the islands like Tenerife who are confused.”
In Germany, returning tourists can get tested at airports, while France is considering it for arrivals from high-risk countries like the US and Brazil.
But the UK Government admitted it would not be able to test people arriving back from Spain.
Mr Raab said there was an “element of personal responsibility” involved in self-isolation but that penalties for rule-breakers, included £1,000 fines.
The Government is leaving decisions on pay for quarantined staff to bosses who they asked to be “flexible”.
But Mr Ashworth called for “clarity” on whether financial support will be available to those who lose out.
‘I may be forced to miss my dad’s funeral’
British tourists in Spain reacted with fury and dismay yesterday over the quarantine decision.
In Marbella, Boots pharmacy manager Dee Gilby, 35, from Sunderland, said having to quarantine could mean missing the funeral of her partner’s father.
She said: “We now have to isolate when we get back so I don’t know what that means for us, especially as his dad’s funeral is on Thursday.
“I worked through the whole pandemic from morning until night and this was my first break. Then this happens. It’s just mad.”
At Malaga airport, nursery nurse Linda Reynolds 49, was heading back to Glasgow with husband Frank, 50, on a Ryanair flight after a two-week family holiday in Fuengirola, which they had to cut short by four days.
She said: “Frank’s a firefighter and he needs to get back to work soon so we’ve ended up buying new flights back. I’m hoping that as a key worker I’ll be able to self-isolate for five days and if I’m not showing any symptoms have a test and then be allowed to break quarantine.”
In Fuengirola, supermarket manager Aled Wyatt, 33, from Cardiff, said: “I have worked my guts out during the pandemic and now they punish me with two weeks’ unpaid leave. It’s sickening.”
In Torremolinos, gas engineer Ben Eisen, 44, from London, said: “This is going to throw things into chaos when I get back due to work. I feel safer here than I do in England to be honest with you.”
By Adam Aspinall on the Costa del Sol
‘I’m going to miss my son’s birthday due to quarantine’
Passengers arriving back at Manchester Airport were angry at now having to quarantine for 14 days.
Saanual Safir, 25, and his friend and business partner Fahim Natha had been to Barcelona.
He said: “We were only out for a three-night break and now I’ve got to quarantine for 14 days. It’s my son’s birthday tomorrow and it looks like I’m going to miss it.”
He added: “I’m a businessman and buy cars, and now I’m not going to be able to do that. Coming through the airport was very lax. We were asked very few questions and didn’t have our temperature checked.”
Fahim said: “There has to be a better system than this. Set up testing stations and if the results for Covid-19 are negative, let people get on with their lives, get back to work and kick-start the economy.” Gemma Vilanova, 28, from Barrow, Cumbria, was due to start a new job at a vets’ surgery today. She said: “I flew over to see my parents because the travel corridor was open. I’ve now got to tell my bosses that I cannot start work.”
Gisela Gorgas, 57, from Barcelona, said: “We are over in England visiting our daughter, but now we’ll have to stay in for two weeks.
“It’s is not how we wanted to spent our time in England.”
Becki Gorman, 36, from Blackley, Manchester, is due back at work after 12 days in Benidorm. She said: “I’ll have to take unpaid leave now