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Blow to Irish travel as UK reimposes quarantine from Spain


‘Frustrating’: Ingid Lopez, who lives in Belfast, at Park Guell in her home town of Barcelona

‘Frustrating’: Ingid Lopez, who lives in Belfast, at Park Guell in her home town of Barcelona

‘Frustrating’: Ingid Lopez, who lives in Belfast, at Park Guell in her home town of Barcelona

Hopes of kick-starting the Irish travel industry have taken a major blow with the UK dramatically reimposing quarantine on Spanish travel because of a renewed surge in Covid-19 cases.

Several travel companies have admitted that they are worried the UK measure will hit already fragile confidence among Irish holidaymakers who may have been considering foreign travel from August.

There is also concern that UK holidaymakers may now attempt to travel to Spain via Ireland.

Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann confirmed that all holidaymakers arriving back to Northern Ireland from Spain would, from yesterday morning, have to quarantine for two weeks.

Spain - the most popular sun destination for Irish holidaymakers - was not included on Ireland's so-called 'green list' of countries which could be visited without a two-week self-isolation period on return.

Some 50,000 people a week are travelling from Ireland but that figure was expected to surge above 100,000 by mid-August as families take breaks to green-list countries, including Italy and Greece.

However, the package holiday industry is reeling from a decision by the UK to reimpose quarantine on Spanish travel after Covid-19 outbreaks in the Barcelona area.

Holiday firm TUI has now cancelled all its flights from the UK to Spain and the Canary Islands.

TUI Ireland and UK managing director Andrew Flintham said the travel industry was "incredibly disappointed" with the speed and lack of warning from UK officials.

"We also look to understand why quarantine has been issued for a whole country, including the Canary Islands and Balearic Islands, when the travel advice isn't aligned (only applying to mainland Spain). It demonstrates why clear regional travel corridors need to be considered," he said.

A Co Antrim couple who were due to fly to Spain yesterday had to cancel their holiday at the 11th hour after they learned their travel insurance was void in light of the new guidance from the UK government.

Cathy and Craig Brown, from Lisburn, had arranged a two-week break at a relative's villa after an earlier holiday to Greece in June was cancelled.

Ms Brown said: "We were supposed to be staying at a villa quite a bit outside Marbella. We thought it would be safe because it was so far away from everything. We were supposed to be going with our two foster children and we only told them on Wednesday night because we didn't want them to be disappointed.

"They were counting down the sleeps, so I'm devastated for them.

"We were thinking of going anyway because the flights are going ahead anyway, but then we found out our insurance is no longer valid so that was the decision made for us."

Brian Wilson, from Moira, Co Down, is currently in the Spanish town of Fuengirola. When he first heard the news of the quarantine rules, he thought it was a joke, as he would have expected to be given at least 24 hours to travel home.

"I'm here with my wife, our 15-year-old daughter, my mate, his wife and their wee girl.

"We've been here for 10 days. I have an apartment out here and we haven't been out from February so we had to come out to check it and make sure everything was all right.

"I normally go out and visit customers in Northern Ireland and [Britain], so I'll not be able to go to any of them.

"It's not the end of the world and I can work from home but there's only so much you can do remotely," he said.

Meanwhile, Ingrid Lopez, originally from Barcelona but living in Belfast, had travelled to see her family for the first time since Christmas and has been there for one week.

"It's quite frustrating to find out that when I go back I have to quarantine. I obviously understand the government's perspective and this is an extreme and difficult situation but at the same time there's been no notice."

Irish Independent

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