Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab Defends 'Swift' Return Of Spain Quarantine Measures

Minister could not guarantee other countries would not be cut from the "safe list" in weeks ahead.

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Foreign secretary Dominic Raab has defended the government’s snap decision to reinstate quarantine measures for Spain – and would not guarantee other countries would remain on the “safe list”.

Speaking to Sky News, he said ministers acted as “swiftly as we could” on Saturday by reintroducing the 14-day quarantine period for people returning from Spain, after a sharp rise in coronavirus cases in the country.

The shock news has angered holidaymakers and even took transport secretary Grant Shapps, who is on a break in Spain, by surprise.

Raab told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday the decision was taken to avoid a second wave in the UK and said the government “can’t give a guarantee” other destinations would remain on England’s travel corridors list.

He told Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “As we’ve found with Spain, we can’t give a guarantee.

“All we can say is we’ve got this Joint Biosecurity Centre, we monitor the risk in real time, we take decisive swift action and so there is an element of uncertainty this summer if people go abroad.

A couple wearing face masks walk along the shore in a beach in Cadiz, south of Spain, on Tuesday, July 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
A couple wearing face masks walk along the shore in a beach in Cadiz, south of Spain, on Tuesday, July 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

“I’m not going to tell people what they should and shouldn’t do, they should follow the advice, I’m going to be staying at home this summer.”

He also said ministers had to be able to “gauge the data in real time”, adding: “The cases in Spain, the data came we got was on the Friday, showed a big jump right across mainland Spain, that was then assessed yesterday afternoon and we took the decision as swiftly as we could.

“And we can’t make apologies for doing so.

“We must be able to take swift, decisive action, particularly in relation to localised, or internationally in relation to Spain or a particular country, where we see we must take action.

“Otherwise, we risk re-infection into the UK, potentially a second wave here and then another lockdown.

“So yes, I understand it is disruptive for those going through this who are in Spain or have been considering going but we must though be able to take swift, decisive action to protect the UK because we’ve made such progress in getting the virus down and prevent the virus re-taking hold in the UK.”

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab leaving 10 Downing Street, London.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab leaving 10 Downing Street, London.

Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth, meanwhile, said “you couldn’t make it up” after it was confirmed Shapps would have to self-isolate on his return to Britain.

“You couldn’t make it up that Grant Shapps is over there on holiday in Spain when he is the Transport Secretary – I think that tells you everything about the sort of government approach to this,” he said.

He said the news about Spain had also left holidaymakers “confused and distressed”.

“I understand why they’ve made the decision but, of course, the way in which this decision has been made in the last 24 hours is frankly shambolic,” he said.

“There are holidaymakers in Spain at the moment confused and distressed, there are people about to go on holiday to Spain and the islands like Tenerife who are confused, and they don’t know whether their employers will allow them to take two weeks’ quarantine – the government is just saying, ‘we hope that employers co-operate’.

“Well, to be frank, I hope I win the lottery on Saturday but that doesn’t mean it is going to happen.

“We need clarity from government now as to whether those who are asked to quarantine, whether they’ll get financial support if their employers refuse it them and we need clarity for those holidaymakers who are currently in Spain who have properly saved up all year for their family holiday who are confused and distressed.

“The way in which this decision has been communicated is obviously causing anxiety.”


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