British holidaymakers confined to a Tenerife hotel over coronavirus will not be flown home by Jet2holidays until next month unless they have tested negative for coronavirus.
Travellers with the company received messages saying it would not fly them to the UK until March 10.
The Canary Islands minister of health said a group of 130 low-risk guests – including around 50 British nationals – would be able to leave because they arrived on Monday and did not come into contact with the four Italians who tested positive.
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But Jet2holidays said it will not fly any passengers who have been staying at the hotel home until they have completed two weeks in quarantine, or tested negative for the illness.
The operator said: “We are continuing to remain in contact with customers at the H10 Costa Adeje Palace in Tenerife, and we also have designated 24/7 telephone assistance in place.
“Their health and safety is our absolute priority, as it is with every single one of our customers and colleagues.
“Therefore, to help prevent any potential spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), we have asked all customers to remain in the hotel, which remains under quarantine, until any potential incubation period, as defined by the World Health Organisation, has passed (March 10).
“We will not fly any customer who has stayed at the H10 Costa Adeje Palace during the quarantine, until this incubation period has passed or unless they have been explicitly tested for COVID-19 by a recognised authority and are confirmed as clear of the virus.
“Our responsibility to our customers, our colleagues and the general public remains paramount.”
The Foreign Office said it was trying to clarify the situation with the Spanish authorities and was supporting all 168 British tourists at the hotel.
Jet2holidays is urging travel agents to check its trade website and Jet2.com for updates about coronavirus, as it is experiencing high call volumes.
Chief executve Steve Heapy was due to speak at the annual Scottish Passenger Agents Association dinner in Glasgow on Thursday night but Jet2holidays had to set up a ‘crisis centre’ in Leeds due to coronavirus.
About 100 Jet2holidays customers are staying in the H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel in Tenerife, where 168 Britons among 700 guests have been told to isolate themselves after at least four guests, including an Italian doctor, tested positive for coronavirus.
Jet2holidays is contacting its holidaymakers to “check on their well-being and offer designated 24/7 telephone assistance”.
It added: “We have stopped all sales to the hotel, and customers who are due to travel to the hotel will be transferred to other accommodation. We are also contacting customers who have recently stayed at the hotel to refer them to advice from the UK government.”
Jet2holidays said its contact centre is experiencing “higher call volumes than usual” and as a result, there is a “slightly longer waiting time than normal”.
It said: “To make life easier for you, we wanted to let you know that some enquiries can easily be dealt with by visiting the following websites, which contain up-to-date travel information for customers who may be travelling to destinations which have been featured in the news recently: the Jet2holidays trade site and Jet2.com.
The operator added: “We always follow the travel advice of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). Their guidance shows that there are no travel restrictions in place to any of our destinations, so our flying programme remains completely unchanged.”
A spokesperson from Jet2holidays said: “We always keep independent travel agency partners updated with relevant and timely information, and we know that communications such as this make their lives easier and help them look after customers.”
A further email from Jet2holidays urged agents to provide a contact number and email address for every customer so the operator can send important updates, whether the client is in the resort or ahead of travel.
“In the rare event that we need to contact customers directly, as has been the case recently, providing us with these details will also reduce the number of queries that you will receive from customers,” said the statement.