'Stick to your travel plans -we have one of the lowest coronavirus infection rates in Europe' is appeal from Pendle born woman who made Tenerife her home

A former Pendle woman, who runs two successful businesses in Tenerife, has appealed for people to stick to their travel plans despite warnings from the Foreign Office against all but essential travel to all parts of Spain.
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Paula Dawson also slated Prime Minister Boris Johnson for extending the 14 day quarantine rule for those returning from mainland Spain to include the Canary and Balearic islands, despite them having some of the lowest infection rates for Covid 19 in Europe.

Paula, who has lived in Tenerife for 20 years, said: "It makes no sense at all to do this and will have a catastrophic effect on the Spanish economy for no good reason.

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"Tenerife had one of the lowest infection rates in the whole of Spain and the contagion rate is now 0.15 per cent of the island's 917,841 inhabitants.

Paula Dawson with her husband Rick and their son JakPaula Dawson with her husband Rick and their son Jak
Paula Dawson with her husband Rick and their son Jak

"It is probably safer to be here than in the UK because we had a much stricter lockdown."

Paula (39) owns tour agent Playaway Abroad Working Holidays which employs 15 staff and helps to find jobs and accommodation for people aged mainly between 18 up to 30. She left Lancashire 20 years ago to go on tour as the singer in band.

But when the tour was cancelled Paula, who was a student at the former Walton High School in Nelson, decided to remain abroad and carve out a new life for herself.

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Another arm of the business, which she runs with her husband Rick, are recovery and retreat holidays tailormade for people struggling with a range of mental health issues, including addictions.

Paula and Rick with some of their staffPaula and Rick with some of their staff
Paula and Rick with some of their staff

She added: "These are now being pushed back which is going to affect the recovery of so many people's mental health it will be a disaster."

After the shock announcement about the quarantine rule at the weekend Tui, one of the UK's largest tour operators, announced that all flights to Spain would be cancelled, throwing thousands of holidaymakers' plans into chaos with just a few hours notice.

Spain had been initially included on the list of countries for which quarantine did not apply and so summer holidays to the country had resumed just two weeks before the quarantine announcement came.

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And while the government cannot totally ban people from flying to Spain the warning about essential travel only to all parts of the country makes it much harder to obtain insurance.

Paula, Rick and Jak with Paula's parents, Thomas and Angela LeemingPaula, Rick and Jak with Paula's parents, Thomas and Angela Leeming
Paula, Rick and Jak with Paula's parents, Thomas and Angela Leeming

Paula said she would advise travellers to apply for a European Health insurance card, also known as an E1 11 which entitles people to receive medical treatment free or at reduced cost in another country.

Paula grew up in Nelson, Colne and Barrowford, and her parents, Thomas and Angela Leeming own North Valley Motors in Colne.

Mum to her nine-year-old son Jak, Paula said: "When lockdown came all the hotels, bars and restaurants had to close and staff were put on erte, which is the equivalent of furlough.

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"Once lockdown eased they were able to re-open and bring them back and take them off erte but now, because of this, they can't put their staff back on erte and there is no help from the government.

"But we will not be beaten by this, Tenerife is strong and we will come back from it."

In a statement released from the British government regarding the imposition of quarantine a spokesman said: "The Joint Biosecurity Centre, together with Public Health England, have updated their coronavirus assessments of Spain based on the latest data.

"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.

"Both our list of quarantine exemptions and the FCO travel advice are being updated to reflect these latest risk assessments."