UPDATE 28 March 2021: Portugal has had two wins recently. Firstly, it has been removed from the UK’s red list where it was the only European country on there. Secondly, the country’s secretary of state for tourism has hinted that the country could be welcoming British holidaymakers by mid-May.
Incidentally, the island of Madeira is already welcoming travellers who can provide evidence of vaccination
For many holidaymakers, Portugal is a much-loved destination as it offers sandy beaches, a huge variety of landscapes, think Algarve, great cityscapes such Lisbon and Porto, it’s quick to get there from the UK and most of all it’s affordable.
Portugal is currently on the UK travel red list – the only European destination on there, along with 32 other high-risk countries, including the continent of South America and many African countries.
That means that direct flights to the UK are banned from those countries and UK residents coming home must quarantine for 10 days in a quarantine hotel near to their port of entry and for out up to £1,750 per person for room and board.
In a tit-for-tat measure, Portugal has banned flights from the UK over the Kent variant.
According to UK transport secretary Grant Shapps, Portugal was flagged for inclusion on the red list is because of its “strong travel links with Brazil” and by extension fears over the Brazilian variant entering the UK.
Portugal has taken steps by banning flights from Brazil some weeks ago. Since then only two cases of the variant have been found. By contrast, six have been found in the UK in the last two weeks.
Still, the UK remains concerned and will not take Portugal off the red list until Portugal can show that there is no major risk or that the Brazilian variant is not a threat i.e. that existing vaccines can work effectively against it.
Grant Shapps said travelling abroad would depend on “everybody having their vaccinations” in the UK – and potentially abroad.
Under the present circumstances, no viable date can even be guessed until the status quo on variants changes. In any case, it is illegal to travel anywhere until May 17 (that magical day when a holiday may be taken – pending a review of course) and Portugal has not given any indication as to when it will remove its ban on non-essential UK arrivals.
We will keep you posted.