Hays Travel owners John and Irene Hays have said the government’s decision to reimpose quarantine restrictions on Spain had been “like turning off a tap” on summer 2020 bookings.

The Hays were speaking on BBC Breakfast following yesterday’s announcement that 878 staff were at risk of redundancy.

Irene Hays said she hoped the job losses would be the last the company would have to make, but described the ongoing situation as “serious”.

She said: “We were in negative revenue until six weeks ago but there was clear evidence that the figures were coming back steadily.

“We were seeing new bookings coming in and not just for 2021, but also for summer 2020. But from Saturday (July 31), it was like turning off a tap.”

Asked if this now spelled the end of summer and increased the likelihood of further job losses in the industry, she said Hays was still hopeful the government would change its guidance in relation to the Canary and Balearic Islands in particular, so the season would not be lost completely.

John Hays said he totally understood the Government’s decision with regards places like Barcelona where a spike in the Covid-19 infection rate had been recorded, but he said a more nuanced approach to destinations, taking into account medical evidence by region, was needed.

Oliver Broad, managing director of the RB Collection, agreed that Saturday had been a clear turning point.

Posting on twitter, he said: “Totally agree. The Spain decision has had a devastating effect. Things were definitely looking up and now bookings have nose-dived.”