Thousands of hopeful holidaymakers have been left scrambling for insurance protection and sick pay after the government extended COVID-19 travel restrictions to Spain's Canary and Balearic Islands.
The new guidelines, published on Monday, require anyone coming back from Spain to quarantine for 14 days and advise against 'all non-essential travel' to the entire country
Previously, restrictions only applied to mainland Spain, but they were extended in the new update to include islands popular with British tourists, including Ibiza and Majorca.
The decision could cause thousands of would-be travellers to lose their holiday bookings with no recourse for insurance and will leave many who are already on the islands negotiating for sick pay to cover the cost of unexpected quarantine when they get home.
The new rules on travel to Spain mean that anyone on holiday in the country or its outlying islands will need to quarantine for 14 days upon returning to the UK.
Remarkably, this includes UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who took part in the meeting with other officials to decide on the new restrictions while already on a family holiday in the country.
According to workplace relations body Acas, returning holidaymakers could be left without sick pay if they are unable to work from home, as employees are not entitled to salary for any days spent in quarantine due to a foreign holiday.
Despite this, the government has urged employers to show goodwill to those caught out by the sudden change:
We expect employers to show employees who will have to quarantine because of the law the flexibility they need. If someone is following the law in relation to quarantine and self-isolating the way they should, they can't have penalties taken against themsaid Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.
However, the decision about whether or not to pay returning workers is entirely at employers' discretion.
Freya Hinnigan Chambers and her family are on holiday visiting their grandmother in the Canary Islands, where the rate of infection is lower than in other parts of the country
Two of my cousins are going home and due to quarantine will have to use up their holiday time and take unpaid leave to cover their two weeks off
She added that the new travel advice caused panic as family members had to cancel and re-book flights to ensure they could all get home. Meanwhile, thousands of people who booked holidays to Spain before the FCO's u-turn on travel advice will be left uninsured as a result of the update.
If you booked your trip or took out your travel insurance after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, you may not be covered for travel disruption or cancellationsaid a spokesperson from insurer trade body ABI
A small number of insurance companies, including providers such as Zurich and Hays, are still providing refunds for travel disrupted by Coronavirus. But, many holidaymakers who made bookings after pandemic travel restrictions were introduced in March and April will come up short.
Most insurers exclude COVID-19 disruptions from circumstances covered by travel policies, meaning that customers will need to rely on the sympathy and good faith of airlines and travel agencies to get refunds or re-book travel.
The Association of British Travel Agents advised that many flight companies and travel agents are trying to offer more flexible bookings and urged customers to contact their flight and accommodation providers to discuss options.
Even though the new rules don't ban travel to Spain, experts have warned against ignoring the government travel warning.
In almost all cases, travellers who ignore FCO advice are not covered by travel or health insurance policies, leaving them vulnerable if there is a change of plans or if something goes wrong while they are abroad.
A spike in Coronavirus cases across Spain, including the cities of Barcelona, Pamplona and Saragoza prompted the UK to issue this week's travel warning.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez called the new restrictions;
According to the latest figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, over the last 14 days, Spain has had an average of 35.1 cases of the virus per 100,000 people, compared to 14.7 cases per 100,000 in the UK.
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