The Canary Islands have been removed from the travel corridors list, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced. People arriving in the UK from the popular Spanish islands from 4am on Saturday must self-isolate.
The decision is a major below to the UK travel industry, which has been badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Many firms recorded a surge in bookings for the Canary Islands when they were added to the travel corridors list in October.
Mr Shapps said their removal was due to a rise in weekly cases and positive tests of the virus.
Test positivity has reached 7.1% across the Canaries and 8.8% for Tenerife specifically, according to the Department for Transport.
Travellers to mainland Spain already have to isolate on their return to the UK.
Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: “It’s utterly devastating news for the thousands of British travellers who booked to go to the Canaries for Christmas and New Year.
“It’s also a body blow for travel firms who’d seen an uplift in bookings for the winter after the Canaries were added to the travel corridor list.
“It now means thousands of refunds and lost bookings for a sector that needed the Canaries to help them recover.”
Botswana and Saudi Arabia have been added to the travel corridors list.
Most people returning to the UK from destinations not on the list must self-isolate for 14 days.
This quarantine period can be shortened for people arriving in England from December 15 if they pay to take a coronavirus test at least five days after they land and receive a negative result.
England has also introduced a quarantine exemption for certain categories of travellers, including people making high-value business trips, sports stars and performing arts professionals.
EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said the removal of the Canary Islands from the travel corridors list “will be disappointing for many customers”.
But he expressed hope the new test and release policy “will help some customers still keep their travel plans and take that much-needed holiday”.
Steve Hay, from Bournemouth, paid for a £240 Covid test before flying out to Lanzarote, arriving on Thursday evening, and his family planned to stay for seven days, before flying home.
The trip cost him more than £2,000 and he said their resort was at 20% occupancy and everyone had to check in with a negative Covid test report.
Mr Hay told the PA news agency his family were “looking at options now, because 14 days’ isolation takes up to December 31. How will we do our Christmas shopping?”
It would also mean no visitors over Christmas.
He added: “I think it’s shocking and doesn’t appear much thought has gone into it.
“Why is it being implemented so quick, this only gives us tomorrow to get back.
“I think it’s crazy and the Canaries cannot be looked at as a whole, each island should be rated.”