brought back a 14-day quarantine for travellers returning to the UK from Spain after a spike in coronavirus cases.
The Foreign Office later updated its advice against all non-essential travel to Spain to include the Balearic and Canary Islands as well as the mainland.
And firms who have furloughed staff during the pandemic had to start contributing to the government job retention scheme from Saturday, putting more pressure on struggling companies.
Mrs Hays told the BBC it was “impossible to overstate the importance of Spain” on the company’s business.
Mr Hays said the firm disagreed with the government’s approach to quarantining Spain: “Other parts of Spain, on the Costa Del Sol, the islands, Majorca, Tenerife, Lanzarote, Ibiza, the Canaries… the incidence of the virus is very low – less than the UK.
“The German government’s reaction has been to quarantine people going to the north-east of Spain, but allow people to go to all of the other places I’ve just said, and that’s a much more targeted and sophisticated approach.”
Hays Travel said it had a two-year turnaround plan in place, and that although 2020 “looked really bad”, bookings for 2021 were already up on the same period in 2019.
Hays Travel made the surprise announcement in October 2019 that it was taking charge of all of Thomas Cook’s 555 travel agents across the UK, after the 178-year-old firm went out of business. This prevented thousands of staff from losing their jobs.
But the coronavirus pandemic has put major pressure on many parts of the economy, including the travel sector.
Rival travel firm Tui said last week that it would close nearly a third of its High Street stores in the UK and Ireland because of the coronavirus pandemic and in response to changes in customer behaviour.
Meanwhile, on Monday sports retail chain DW Sports announced it had fallen into administration, putting 1,700 jobs at risk.
It followed an announcement by HSBC on Monday that it would accelerate 35,000 job losses and news from Byron Burger on Friday that it would cut 650 jobs and close more than half of its restaurants.
There have been an estimated 150,000 redundancies so far.
Last week’s cuts included 450 jobs going at Selfridges, 650 at busmaker Alexander Dennis, 900 at Dyson and 1,200 workers facing redundancy at the National Trust.
Other lay-offs announced during the pandemic have included:
- Up to 5,000 job cuts at Upper Crust owner SSP Group
- Up to 700 jobs at Harrods
- About 600 workers at shirtmaker TM Lewin
- 1,900 jobs at Café Rouge-owner Casual Dining Group
- 1,000 jobs at Pret A Manger
- 1,700 UK jobs at plane-maker Airbus
- 1,300 crew and 727 pilots at EasyJet
- 550 jobs at Daily Mirror publisher Reach.
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