This Morning’s travel expert has been criticised over “irresponsible” information given to viewers on how to get around self-isolating if you are returning to the UK from Spain.
Over the weekend, the government announced new quarantine rules that force British people visiting Spain into a two-week self-isolation period upon their return home, due to a spike in coronavirus cases there.
On Monday, the ITV daytime show hosted a segment with travel expert Simon Calder on the changes, in which he outlined a loophole by where travellers could “leave the country again” upon returning to the UK to “reduce the two weeks of quarantine”.
After a caller – Emily, who is currently on holiday in Spain – phoned into the show asking what she should do about another upcoming holiday to France which would be impacted by her quarantine period, Simon said: “Not only can you go to France, arguably you should do.
“A lot of people in Spain will think let’s come back and we’ll go into France, some will think we’ll come back through France. That doesn’t excuse you from quarantine but it does mean that rather than being in quarantine stuck at home, not able to go out, not even able to walk the dog, you’re somewhere lovely in France...
“Leaving the country is fine. You just say I would love to quarantine for 14 days, but in a week’s time I’m going to France, so I’ll be off then, see you later.”
The idea was also rejected by the caller, who said: “My kids are in Majorca and in a logical sense, if one of them picks up the virus or I pick it up here and we get back together at home – I’m assuming we should be self-isolating separately – but if we go on a holiday to France, surely we are potentially infecting others, and that for me is irresponsible.”
Later during the segment, presenters Eamonn and Ruth tried to provide some more clarity to viewers.
Eamonn said: “We are trying to get an update on this quarantine situation whereby us reading the Department for Transport website, we believe you come into the country and you’ve got to quarantine if you’ve been in Spain for 14 days, at the address at which you are registered.”
As Simon directed them to Public Health Coronavirus Protection Rules 2020 website, Ruth then added: “It’s a grey area. I think as a programme we have to go with government advice, which is if you are coming back from Spain you have to stay in quarantine for 14 days.”
A This Morning spokesperson also echoed Ruth’s statement when contacted by HuffPost UK for comment on criticism of the segment.
The Department for Transport’s website quotes advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), which states that people “will still need to self-isolate when returning from anywhere in Spain as well as the Canary and Balearic Islands because self-isolation arrangements are put in place on the basis of risk to the UK as a whole”.
The FCO is also advising against all but essential travel to mainland Spain, leaving close to 1.8 million summer holidays facing uncertainty.