Britons arriving back from Spain will have to quarantine for 14 days – after the government added it to the list of at-risk countries with just a few hours' notice.
It means people arriving back from Spain, the Canary Islands and Balearic Islands from midnight – and those who have booked a summer holiday there – face the prospect of two weeks in isolation upon returning.
An announcement was made by the Department for Transport on Saturday evening, with the government asking employers across all four nations to be "understanding" of workers who need to self-isolate.
It may need to follow its own advice after it emerged that Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is currently in Spain on holiday. He has said he will stay there for the duration of his holiday then self-isolate as required.
The Scottish government lifted its quarantine rules on Spain this week – but says it will now reimpose them.
A UK government spokesperson said: "Following a significant change over the last week in both the level and pace of change in confirmed cases, Spain has been removed from the list of countries where people do not have to self-isolate when arriving into to the UK.
"People currently on holiday in Spain are encouraged to follow the local rules, return home as normal and check the FCO's travel advice pages on gov.uk for further information."
The spokesperson added: "Protecting public health is our absolute priority and we have taken this decision to limit any potential spread to the UK.
"We've always been clear that we would act immediately to remove a country where necessary."
On Friday, Spain logged 922 infections, slightly down from 971 the day before, but officials are tracking more than 280 active outbreaks across the country.
The Spanish government has warned it could already be having a "second wave" of the illness, as France, Germany and Belgium all reported steep rises in their number of cases.
The UK government's announcement has caused disappointment among holidaymakers.
Chloe Harris, 23, from Kent, booked a last-minute trip to Lanzarote and arrived on the Spanish island on Saturday morning.
She said: "When I heard the news I was quite shocked because I thought they would have given us some warning. Even just some warning that this was something they were going to consider.
"I think a lot of people are going to rush to the airport, but because we are only here for four days, and we only arrived this morning, it doesn't seem worth it."
Neil Hunter, 45, from Sittingbourne in Kent, booked a 10-day break to Lanzarote last December and was due to leave on Tuesday.
He said: "We were going as a family, my wife Amanda, and teenage daughter Bethany but to be honest, since this announcement, I'm unsure what's going to happen as I work as a train driver, and I don't think my employer will accept me having to isolate due to going on holiday."
Rory Boland, editor of consumer magazine Which? Travel, said: "Many holidaymakers will be deeply angry that the government didn't make this decision 48 hours ago, before tens of thousands of them flew off for their summer holidays in Spain.
"Many would not have travelled if they had known they'd face 14 days of quarantine on their return."
Spain joins countries such as the US, Portugal, Sweden, Mexico, Brazil, Russia, Iran, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and China on England's at-risk list, meaning people returning have to quarantine.
It comes a day after Read More – Source