British holidaymakers gather at Faro Airport on Monday, June 7 as they interrupt their holidays in the Algarve to return home due to the British government's new COVID-19 quarantine rules. Portugal will be removed from the UK's green travel list from tomorrow, June 8 amid rising concern over new virus variants Photo: EPA/LUIS FORRA

Brits cut holidays short to return home before quarantine deadline

Thousands of Brits started flying home last weekend before Portugal officially leaves the UK’s green list tomorrow, Tuesday, June 8 to avoid having to self-quarantine when they return.

Lusa news agency reports that Faro Airport is not seeing as many departures today as it did on Saturday, when around 10,000 Brits departed from Faro Airport.

“On Saturday there were around 10,000 British tourists leaving, but it was also interesting to learn that around 2,500 were arriving. So, despite the British backwards step, there are still British arriving in the Algarve,” the region’s tourism boss João Fernandes told news agency Lusa yesterday.

Nonetheless, several British tourists are still scrambling to get home before tomorrow’s deadline when returning citizens will be forced to complete a 10-day quarantine.

Nick Hambridge, who had a Birmingham-bound flight booked for this Monday, told Lusa it was “crazy” that some holidaymakers are being forced to return home early to avoid having to quarantine upon their return.

He believes that Portugal will join the green list again in three weeks’ time when the decision will be reviewed, and explained that he felt just as safe in Portugal as he does back in the UK, stressing that people wore masks not only inside but outside and at beaches as well.

According to Dean Barker, a British holidaymaker preparing to return to Manchester, the UK government’s decision to place Portugal on its Amber list was “stupid”, considering that he felt “100% safe” in Portugal as tourists arriving by plane have to present a negative test and that “everyone follows the rules, even when walking around pools”.

The Algarve’s “reduced number of cases” was stressed by Wendy Taylor, who was also getting ready to fly to Manchester and felt totally safe during her stay in Portugal. As she told Lusa, she and her husband are both “fully vaccinated” and they were delighted that everyone followed Covid-19 guidelines during their stay.

“Terrible, ridiculous and nonsensical” were some of the words she used to classify the UK government’s decision to remove Portugal from its travel corridor before also lamenting the “short notice” that tourists were given to return home without the need to self-quarantine.

There’s also been much confusion and stress over the need to present negative Covid-19 tests.

As the Resident reported last week, testing laboratories are ‘overwhelmed’ and cannot satisfy the sudden rush of demand, while reports from Faro Airport are that queues for ‘on-the-spot testing’ have become so long that people are missing their flights home.

In fact, British traveller Avril Hicks who visited the Algarve with her daughter and two grandchildren complained to Lusa about a “lack of information” about the tests which has caused her and her family much distress.

“We did the tests on Friday and still do not know the results of one of them,” she said on Monday, lamenting how so many people’s holidays have been affected by the UK government’s decision.

“Portugal’s removal from the green list cannot happen this way,” she stressed.

michael.bruxo@algarveresident.com