Footy fans who have hot-footed it to Porto in Portugal for the Champion League may well be the last travellers to return to England without having to self-isolation on return.
This is because, in a shocking and sudden move, Portgual has been removed from the green list because of incidences of Covid growing.
As the Prime Minister said on Wednesday:
“We’re going to try to allow people to travel, but we’ve got to be cautious and we’ve got to continue to put countries on the red list, on the amber list, when that is necessary.
“I want you to know we will have no hesitation in moving countries from the green list to the amber list to the red list, if we have to do so.”
Thousands of holidaymakers who were enticed by the May 17 easing of restrictions and sun and sand of the Algarve – the only viable major tourist destination on the list – are now left wondering what to do about their much anticipated holiday.
Other resorts and destinations such as Spain, Greece and Malta were disappointed that their pleas fell on deaf ears. Indeed the Canary islands want to regarded and treated differently from mainland Spain as their own incidences of Covid differ.
Ski resorts who in other years would start selling their ski holidays at this time have no idea whether or not to prepare for the ski season that usually starts around September.
On this occasion, no more countries have been added to the green list.
Timothy Davis, CEO of BNPL travel agent Butter, commented:
“The announcement of the green list provided a very slight glimpse of hope for an otherwise hard-trodden travel industry that some form of normality might be on the cards for this summer.However, yet another u-turn by the government will only add to the uncertainty and angst of holidaymakers and providers alike and will no doubt deter many from even contemplating a trip abroad this summer.”
I’ve booked a holiday to Portugal what shall I do?
Holidaymakers that have already booked their holiday should contact their travel agent, tour operator or airline.
You may be able to take advantage of flexible booking and be able to rearrange.
What if I’m already in Portugal – what do I need to do?
If you are desperate to get back get in touch with your travel agent and your travel insurance. You can expect last minute flights to be expensive.
If you are flexible and can self-isolate on return, then you can just continue with your holiday.
If I cancel my holiday to Portugal, am I entitled to a refund?
As the government has said don’t go to amber list countries it is not illegal. So it is unlikely the holiday will be cancelled. So you won’t have the right to receive a refund.
So, you will have to rely on the flexibility of the travel company.
What are the restrictions around an amber list country?
From Tuesday, anyone returning from Portugal and other amber list destinations must self-isolate at home for 10 days. They must take a pre-departure test, and PCR tests on day two and day eight after arrival in the UK.
If you pay for a private Covid test through the Test to Release scheme, taken at least five days after arrival, you can end your quarantine early.
The Traffic Light system
The Global Travel Taskforce has come up with a traffic light system to indicate which countries are safe to visit. Everyone will need to take a test within 72 hours of departure for the UK – even if they have been vaccinated. This is to ensure that new variants don’t enter the UK.
Green list countries won’t have to quarantine on returning to the UK but will need to take a PCR test on or before day two of their arrival in the UK.
Amber list countries will need self-isolation at home and take PCR tests on days two and eight; they can end self-isolation early under the “Test to Release” scheme if they take an additional PCR test on day five.
Red list country means undergoing 11 days of quarantine in an approved hotel at their own cost of around £1750 plus taking PCR tests on days two and five.
Consequently, mass tourism has been stifled to avoid the risk of variants turning up in the UK in the immediate future.