Transport Secretary Grant Shapps says he is the last person people should take travel advice from after he imposed quarantine restrictions on Spain within an hour of arriving on holiday there.
The cabinet minister’s decision to suspend the air corridor with the popular tourist hotspot shortly after touching down last year, meant he had to cut his summer break short – leaving behind his family – and self-isolate for 14 days on his return.
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Mr Shapps said at the time the reintroduction of coronavirus quarantine measures for Spain were a “necessary emergency imposition”, due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the country.
Last July’s decision angered tourists, airlines and travel firms.
Now with the rollout of the vaccine, Mr Shapps was pressed over whether it was wise for pensioners who have had the jab to book their summer holiday.
He told the BBC: “I am the last person you should take travel advice on this from.
“I remember about this time last year, or a little bit later, being asked whether I would book a summer holiday. We then had the travel corridors and I did book, I went to Spain with my family.
“And, within an hour of getting there, I, myself, put Spain… took them out of the travel corridor, meaning that I needed to come home and start my quarantine, leaving my family there.
“So, don’t take any travel advice from me.”
Defending the quarantine restrictions at the time, Mr Shapps said failing to act would have been a “dereliction of duty”.
“I decided I needed to come home early and begin my 14 days quarantine just to make sure that I can get on with my job,” he added.
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Meanwhile, in the latest travel restrictions, Mr Shapps said a ban on flights from South America and Portugal had been imposed as a “precautionary approach” in the face of new coronavirus strain found in Brazil.
He said: “Scientists aren’t saying that the vaccine won’t work against it.
“But we are at this late stage now, we have got so far – we have got jabs into the arms of three million Brits now – that’s more than France, Spain, Germany, Italy put together, and we do not want to be tripping up at this last moment.
“Which is why I took the decision, as an extra precaution, to ban those flights entirely.”
Mr Shapps added: “Everybody coming from anywhere not on a travel corridor must, by law, quarantine.
“And there are not exceptions to that and you can end up with a criminal record if you don’t.”
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