MILLIONS of Brits faced summer travel chaos today with holiday companies cancelling trips, angry families losing thousands and workers being forced into quarantine on their return.
Confused holidaymakers could have a ruined summer with long-awaited trips to France, Greece and Italy all facing the axe after an effective travel ban was slapped on Spain.
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Downing Street even said those who miss out on work due to suddenly being forced to quarantine may be forced to claim Universal Credit to make ends meet.
Joanne Jackson, 49, flew home after a two-week break in Nerja and said she has now lost £2,000 in wages due to the quarantine.
The care worker, of Manchester, said: "Everyone abroad should have been given two weeks' notice, not just a few hours.
"Who is going to pay my wages? Who is going to pay my mortgage and bills? What will I do for money?"
Typifying the chaos, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps was himself on holiday in Spain before rushing back to Britain – and quarantine – in an effort to sort out the confusion.
He told The Sun this afternoon he was leaving his family and cutting the break short – just hours after he landed there on Saturday.
It comes as:
- Thousands of holidays remain in limbo today as people struggle to get refunds or change their bookings
- Spain demanded to be put back on the safe list, saying it had its case numbers under control
- No10 today warned that no travel was "risk free" in the current climate
- Transport Secretary Grant Schapps dashed back to the UK from his Spanish break – but he will have to quarantine
- Brits told not to travel to Spain's islands of Majorca, Ibiza and the Canary Islands in Government U-turn
The devastating blow came as long-awaited European holidays for thousands of Brits were thrown into chaos with families cancelling trips to France, Greece and Italy.
And Brits returning to the UK today spoke of their anger at being trapped in the mess – with many facing a worrying lack of social distancing as they queued to leave Luton Airport.
Chris Lacey, 66, who flew in from Malaga with wife Maria, 64, said: "The nearest outbreak to us was 1,000 kilometres away.
"I felt much safer in Spain than I do here."
Maria, 64, said: “We were supposed to come back on Friday, but easyJet cancelled that flight. Then they made this announcement so quickly which means we have to self isolate.
"If we had come back when we were supposed to we would not have to do it.
“There were no special measures at all except the cabin crew telling you to wash your hands.“
Retired Chris Holroyde, 64, of Newport Pagnell, Bucks, said: "We have been in Andalucia where the infection rate is much lower than anywhere in the UK."
Amid the chaos flights could be scuppered at any moment, with Jet2 today cancelling flights to mainland Spain until August 17.
On Saturday the government announced all Brits have to quarantine for two weeks when returning to the UK from Spain – sparking families to cancel trips to Spain as well as France, Italy and Greece due to fears of similar last-minute quarantine restrictions being introduced.
And this evening another Government U-turn saw Brits told not to travel to Spain's islands of Majorca, Ibiza and the Canary Islands.
Travel: What are your rights to a refund?
MILLIONS of Brits have had holiday plans cancelled.
Firstly, speak to your airline or holiday firm about a refund or rearranging your plans.
You are entitled to a refund if they've cancelled your holiday but many have large delays or may offer vouchers instead.
As the FCO is advising against all but essential international travel, you may also be covered by your travel insurance if the holiday provider or airline is not helping you.
Keep in mind the travel insurance must have been taken out before the FCO advice changed, otherwise you won't be covered.
If you don't have travel insurance, you may be able to claim your money back through your credit or debit card provider.
Credit card payments between £100 and £30,000 are covered under Section 75 of the Consumer Rights Act.
To start a claim, you need to contact your credit card provider directly – Which? has a free tool that can help you do this.
Saturday's announcement, which gave just four hours' notice, has affected as many as 600,000 Brits booked on Spanish getaways, as many frantically tried to get home this weekend before the quarantine was imposed.
Tens of thousands of Brits have said they cannot afford to effectively take a month off work – with no guarantee from the government regarding their jobs.
NHS hero Nicola Ley, 35, faces two weeks unpaid after flying out to Malaga for a much-needed break following months of 45-hour weeks on the frontline.
Brits returning from Spain cannot claim sick pay – so key worker Nicola is now worried about overspending on holiday due to fears of lost wages.
She said: “We have got a private pool so we’re trying to enjoy our holiday, but it’s been ruined by the two weeks when we get back.
“We don’t want to spend any money now because we’ve lost the next two weeks at our jobs.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen with me for work, if they’re going to make me take leave or holiday and you’ve got that hanging over you.”
What are my options now the UK has changed travel advice to Spain?
British Airways: British Airways says flights to mainland Spain will be going ahead as normal so it won't be giving money back if customers can no longer travel. Instead of a refund, the airline is offering customers a voucher worth the value of the booking which can be used to rebook their holiday at a later date. This flexible booking policy can be applied to trips to other destinations, not just Spain.
EasyJet: EasyJet says flights to Spain will continue to go ahead as planned and as a result, is not obliged to offer customers a refund if they can no longer go on holiday. Instead, customers can choose to transfer their flights to a later date for free or they can accept a voucher for the value of the booking. This can be used to book a new holiday to another destination. EasyJet Holidays has cancelled all package holidays to mainland Spain, the Canary Islands and Balearic Islands from August 1, when operations were due to restart. Customers who have been affected by the cancellations will be offered a full refund.
Jet2: Jet2 has cancelled all flights to mainland Spain until August 17.
Lastminute.com: Lastminute.com hasn't announced its policy on what it is doing for customers with upcoming trips to Spain but more information is expected later today. Those who are worried about trips booked to other UK travel bridge destinations and want to change them will be subject to the normal terms and conditions, unless the FCO advice changes.
Love Holidays: Love Holidays is contacting customers with trips to mainland Spain that have been affected by the new FCO travel rules. You'll need to let it know if you wish to continue to go ahead with the holiday – if not it says it will "do our best to cancel your reservations with our suppliers".
Ministers at the Department for Transport are now at loggerheads with the Foreign Office over whether to remove the 14-day self-isolation for tourists returning from the Canary and Balearic Islands after an outcry over lower cases there.
The Sun understands the Mr Shapps was keen to set up air bridges to the Baleriac islands as soon as this week as Covid cases are much lower there than the mainland.
Earlier today This Morning's travel expert Simon Calder has been slammed online for "encouraging viewers to break quarantine" – with host Ruth Langsford forced to cut him off.
The 64-year-old travel pro was branded a "danger to public health" as horrified fans watched in shock while he shared loopholes surrounding the new 14-day quarantine Brits face after travelling to Spain.
France and Germany have confirmed a spike in coronavirus cases, which could lead to further lockdowns, while Italy and Greece have also seen infections rise since tourists returned.
Paul Charles, founder of the travel PR consultancy firm PC Agency, told The Times: "People are cancelling not just Spain but other short-haul bookings.
"We’ve heard of lots of cancellations for holidays to France, Italy and Greece."
France saw 1,130 new cases of coronavirus on Saturday, while Italy daily cases jumped from 128 to 306 last week. Greece has seen coronavirus cases also rise since international tourists returned from July 1.
Mr Charles continued: "Dominic Raab said they wouldn’t hesitate to introduce quarantine measures on other countries and that’s simply put fear into people."
The Foreign Secretary told Sky's Sophy Ridge yesterday: "As we've found with Spain, we can't give a guarantee."
Mr Raab added: "There is an element of uncertainty this summer if people go abroad.
"I'm not going to tell people what they should or shouldn't do. They should follow the advice."
Dominic Raab said they wouldn’t hesitate to introduce quarantine measures on other countries and that’s simply put fear into people
Last week, it was reported that two thirds of hotel bookings in Spain were cancelled as tourists were put off by the country’s coronavirus spike, ahead of the travel ban announcement.
Hotel cancellation rates were as high as 70 per cent in the Balearic Islands, which includes Majorca and Ibiza, according to tourism market research group Dingus.
For some hotels the number of tourists cancelling stays booked weeks or months ago outweighs the number of new bookings.
A spokesperson for the Association of Hotel Chains of the Balearic Islands told Ultima Hora: “The situation has turned around in the last week and it has gone from having more reservations than cancellations to the opposite side.”
Brits are being warned not to cancel their own holidays to Spain as they may be left out of pocket, and to wait for tour operators to cancel them.
However, families who have booked flights and hotels separately may not get their money back as both remain operational.
Even Scotland has seen holiday cancellations after English tourists were warned they may be forced to quarantine.
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