"We feel more at ease and safer here than in the UK"

Tourists at Malaga Airport.
Tourists at Malaga Airport. / ÑITO SALAS
  • British tourists and residents suddenly found their travel plans complicated when the self-isolation regulation was announced on Saturday

An estimated 600,000 British nationals were on holiday in Spain on Saturday when the UK government announced that they would face a 14-day quarantine when they got home.

The government stressed that they could finish their holidays - they didn't have to rush back - but they would have to plan for a two-week interruption to their routine.

Julie and Richard Gross arrived in Benalmádena from Southend just three days before the UK announced the new 14-day quarantine for people entering the country from Spain. The couple have been coming to the resort for many years and claim they would still have come even if the quarantine had been announced earlier.

"We find it hard to believe that the UK, which has never adhered to a proper lockdown like Spain, should insist on this quarantine period. It will play havoc with people's jobs, because not everyone can afford to take time off. This is not to mention the economic impact it will have on the tourist industry in Spain," Julie said.

Although she said they will self-isolate on returning to the UK, Julie stressed that she has felt safe while staying on the coast.

"To be honest, we have felt more at ease and safe here than in the UK. We have noticed that everybody wears a mask and most people observe the social distancing: in Southend, the beaches are packed and even the police don't seem too bothered about it," she concluded.

Plans have changed

Rona Griffiths, from Brighton, East Sussex, arrived in Arroyo de la Miel the week before the announcement was made by the UK government. She had come to see her boyfriend Steve, whom she had not seen since before the lockdown. The couple intended to return to the UK this Sunday in order to celebrate Julie's birthday.

Maddy Weavers and Rubén.

Maddy Weavers and Rubén. / SUR

"Plans have changed. I'm not going to catch my return flight, as I've decided to stay longer, so hopefully it will be better when I do fly back. I'm disappointed, because I won't be able to celebrate my birthday with my friends and family back home," she said.

Rona, who claims to have felt "completely safe" on the coast, says she doesn't believe Boris Johnson was right to enforce a blanket lockdown.

"I don't think the government made the right decision: most people who come to Malaga will not be travelling to places like Barcelona. We are well-informed on the Costa del Sol and are kept up to date with information concerning any changes. I would not have travelled if I was concerned," Rona declared.

Business damaged

British residents whose work in Spain relies on travel between the two countries, also found their plans, and business, disrupted.

Debbie Skyrme.

Debbie Skyrme. / SUR

Debbie Skyrme is a wedding celebrant based in Almuñécar. One wedding due to take place in August was immediately cancelled due to the unexpected quarantine announcement and others are in serious jeopardy as guests cannot afford time to self-isolate at home on returning from a Spanish wedding ceremony.

"[With] this quarantine announcement I'm incensed! I honestly don't know how much more the wedding suppliers and venues here can take.

"Destination weddings are a large contributor to the tourism industry and the GDP so there is a knock-on effect to the wider community," she said.

Maddy Weavers flew to Spain from the UK on Friday with her seven-year-old son Rubén so that he could spend the summer with his Spanish family.

Maddy returned to the UK on Monday as planned, but had to delay her moving house from Surrey to Oxford and quarantine instead.

"I can move but [I would go] directly into quarantine. I couldn't go out and buy new furniture and I can't live in an empty house," Maddy said on Monday.