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Britain defends Spanish quarantine move; travellers react with anger

MADRID/LONDON: British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab yesterday stood by his government's abrupt decision to impose a two-week quarantine on travellers returning from Spain, which has provoked anger and confusion among tourists.

The move to take Spain off a safe-travel list was announced late on Saturday and took effect within hours, from midnight, leaving travellers with no time to dodge it or plan ahead.

Mr Raab defended the imposition of the quarantine as a "real-time response" to a jump in Spanish coronavirus cases reported on Friday, the latest in a month-long resurgence in infections.

"We can't make apologies...we must be able to take swift, decisive action," he said on Sky News.

'SHAMBOLIC'

The opposition Labour Party's health policy chief, Mr Jonathan Ashworth, slammed Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government for its "frankly shambolic" handling of the measure, which has scuppered the plans of many would-be holidaymakers.

At Madrid's Barajas airport, Ms Emily Harrison, who was taking a flight to London, faced the prospect of having to self-isolate for two weeks.

"It's really bad because it's just come all of a sudden, it's not given very much time to prepare so everyone is now panicking," said Ms Harrison.

"We had a wedding to go to and we had plans to visit friends and family we haven't seen in a very long time, and now we are going to have to cancel all those plans, so it's really quiet upsetting."

Spain had been on a list of countries that the British government had said were safe for travellers to visit - meaning tourists returning home would not have to go into quarantine.

"We're quite frustrated by it to be honest, because it actually feels safer in Spain," British tourist Carolyne Lansell said.

Britons made up more than 20 per cent of foreign visitors to Spain last year, the largest group by nationality. - REUTERS

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