The Government announced in late July that travellers returning to the UK from Spain will have to quarantine for 14 days, suspending the ‘air bridge’ arrangement between the two countries. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office now advises British nationals against all non-essential travel to Spain in response to a recent spike in cases across the country, especially in cities such as Barcelona and Madrid. Critics argue the decision was poorly planned, injecting even more uncertainty into the weakened travel industry of both the UK and Spain.
Redfield & Wilton Strategies’ latest poll shows that roughly three quarters (73%) of the British public agree with the Government’s decision to break off the ‘air bridge’ agreement with Spain, as fears of imported cases hastening a second wave in the UK rise. Only 8% of respondents say they disagree with the Government’s move.
Overwhelming approval for the Government’s decision may be due to the fact that the public do not feel overly disrupted by the policy change. Overall, 75% of respondents say that the recent decision to require travellers from Spain to self-isolate upon returning to the United Kingdom has not encouraged them to change their holiday plans.
Indeed, nearly half (49%) of respondents say that the Government’s decision to impose the quarantine on Spain has made it neither more nor less likely that they will book a holiday this year. Even though around a third (34%) say that it has made it less likely, presumably due to fears of more quarantines being imposed at very short notice, high approval levels for the policy suggest that even some of those whose plans have been affected may think the Government’s decision is wise.
While the public approves of enforcing a quarantine on travellers who return to the UK from Spain, they are less supportive of how this policy change has been implemented. A slender majority (51%) say that the Government’s rules on self-isolation for international arrivals to the UK are clear, but a significant proportion (40%) say they are unclear.
Similarly, even though our poll finds that the reintroduction of quarantine for travellers from Spain has widespread public support, only 43% agree that the Government has handled this policy change well compared to 29% who feel the Government handled it poorly. The discrepancy between those who agree with the theory of the policy and those who approve of the implementation suggests the public has perhaps found aspects of the Government’s implementation slightly impulsive.
Respondents are also divided on whether the UK Government has been clear about whether they should book a foreign holiday this summer. The travel industry fears that the sudden change in quarantine rules, which affects those already on holiday in Spain, will put off British tourists from travelling anywhere in Europe. It seems that the government’s attempts to balance public health concerns while protecting the travel sector have resulted in confusion for some respondents: 40% agree that Government has been clear on whether people should book a holiday, 35% disagree and 22% neither agree nor disagree.
Aside from being unsure about the Government’s communication of the policy, sections of the public are also doubtful of its efficacy. While 37% feel that the measure has increased their confidence in the Government’s ability to prevent a second wave, 43% say it hasn’t changed their confidence, showing that the public is somewhat sceptical about the Government’s ability to prevent a second wave. However, the high support for the policy seems to indicate that they still want the Government to implement some preventative measures.
Finally, a majority (53%) of respondents agree that Grant Shapps should have cancelled his trip to Spain on Saturday 25 July given that he knew there was a possibility that new quarantine restrictions could come into effect the next day. Only 14% disagree. Grant Shapps decided to go ahead with his holiday to show solidarity with other holiday makers who wouldn’t have the inside information he was privy to as a minister.
Grant Shapps is now quarantining for 14 days. However, it seems the public has not understood his rationale, once again suggesting that the Government’s messaging is not being effectively conveyed to the public.
The public backs the Government over its sudden decision to reimpose quarantine restrictions on travellers from Spain. At the same time, the Government still has work to do to convince the public that their decisions are not being made with undue haste and that they will indeed have a concrete effect on mitigating a second wave. Redfield & Wilton Strategies will continue to monitor the UK public’s attitude towards travel across the coming months.