The Department for Transport’s sudden decision to impose quarantine measures on people travelling from Spain has caused confusion and outrage in equal measure.
And in an ironic twist, the “swift decision” was made while the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, was himself on holiday in Spain with his family.
The unexpected decision has caused major disruption for holidaymakers and other travelers as they were not told earlier about the revised Spain assessment. However, the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab said the government “can’t make apologies”.
Furthermore, Prof Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy chief medical officer for England has responded to the reactions from holidaymakers by explaining that the measure taken will never be suitable for everyone.
“There is no magic time at which to do this … The thing that we have to do is do it as soon as we are certain about the data", Van-Tam added.
For his part, the Foreign Secretary confirmed that the unexpected decision had been taken after Shapps’s arrival in Spain on Saturday (July 25) and that the transport secretary “recognized we had to take the measures”.
The Transport Secretary is not expected to change his traveling itinerary but isolation in line with guidance on his return is expected.
The quarantine measures apply to those returning from mainland Spain, the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands, with people traveling from these places having to provide an address where they will self-isolate for 14 days.
Also, during those two weeks, people will not be allowed to go out to work, school, or public areas, or have visitors and they should not go out to buy food if they can rely on others.
Those who break quarantine rules can be fined up to £1,000 in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland and those returning to Scotland could be fined £480, with fines up to £5,000 for persistent offenders.
The re-imposition of quarantine measures is expected to his Britain’s already embattled holiday tours and airlines companies hard.
Helen Catt, a political correspondent at the BBC, said in her analysis: “it's pretty certain that Grant Shapps's boss isn't going to mind him taking another 14 days off, the sudden nature of this ‘Spanish reimposition’ is going to cause big problems for many holidaymakers when they head home”.
On that note, the shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, described the government’s quarantine re-imposition rule as “shambolic” especially as the transport secretary was on holiday in the affected country at the moment the decision was made.
“I think that tells you everything about the government’s approach to this [quarantine management]”, Ashworth added.