Portugal removed from UK’s ‘green’ travel list

Portugal has been removed from the UK government’s ‘green travel list’. The announcement came via the British press (BBC, Sky News, The Guardian and the Telegraph) all of which predicted demotion’ will come into effect on Tuesday. 

The UK Transport Minister Grant Shapps has since confirmed the decision, telling Sky News Portugal has been downgraded because the British government wants to give the UK “the best possible chance of unlocking domestically” on 21 June.

He said the emerging Nepal mutation of the Indian variant was “of concern” and Portugal’s positivity rate has “nearly doubled since the last review”.

The news has come as a hammer-blow to the travel and hospitality sector, with hundreds of holidaymakers already here, and those booked to arrive over the next few days given new doses of stress – on top of the stress already caused by requirements to take tests before flying (both ways) and then again a second time after return to UK.

The brief ‘three weeks’ that Britons have had to ‘enjoy’ quarantine-free travel have not been without their issues.

The Resident has received dozens of messages from people who have found getting ‘return tests’ at local labs has not been easy. Many have found laboratories closest to them ‘fully booked’ and have complained that the system ‘isn’t working seamlessly’.

Only today Elidérico Vieigas, president of hoteliers association AHETA, was calling for an easing of restrictions to allow British holidaymakers to substitute expensive PCR tests with more rapid antigen tests. 

This is now the least of the sector’s concerns.

In UK, the media has been describing “millions of pounds worth of damages” for airlines and tour operators. The repercussions in Portugal will be every bit as damaging – if not more so.

As DGS Covid bulletins have been reporting, the rising number of infections has, for the time being at least, not translated into any increase in pressure on the public health system as all at risk groups have either been fully vaccinated or have received their first shots. Indeed, deaths recently have tricked down to an average of little over one per day.

As this news for a sector that has been on life-support for months is being digested, there was a glimmer of hope for the archipelagos of Madeira and Azores which “may not be removed from the green list”, said British reports. This hasn’t transpired – meaning the entirety of national territory is on the amber list.

Demotion to the amber list means that any holidaymakers returning to UK from Portugal after 4am on June 8 will have to quarantine at home for 10 days after arrival, as well as take various tests.

British press reports stress that the government’s decision has effectively closed the United Kingdom off to international travel as there are now no European destinations on the green list.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com