Any hope for holidays to Portugal this summer has been eliminated following the latest decision by the Government to keep the nation off the quarantine-free travel list for England. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced on Friday afternoon that Portugal’s bid to be added to the “safe list” of 74 countries had been rejected.
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This means Britons who choose to jet off to the nation will have to endure a period of 14-days self-isolation upon their return.
During this time, authorities will be entitled to check up on new arrivals at any time, and those who are found in breach of the mandatory quarantine regulation could face fines of up to £1,000.
Five new countries will be added to the current list for England, however, Portugal is not among them.
New additions are Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Estonia and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Following the announcement, Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: “With the school summer holidays underway, news that Portugal is not being added to the government’s travel corridor list could mean cancelled trips for thousands of holidaymakers – many of whom are due to leave in the coming days.
“Many people may want to support their holiday company by accepting a refund credit note or rebooking for a later date, but it’s important operators make clear any drawbacks, including a potential price increase when moving a holiday to 2021.
“Customers have the legal right to a cash refund if their package holiday is cancelled, but several tour operators continue to refuse and delay payments. This must stop, not least of all because many families will want to rebook a trip somewhere else during the summer holidays.”
The Portuguese Government has expressed its “regret” following the decision.
Portugal’s Ministry of State ad Foreign Affair said: “It is a decision that is neither substantiated nor supported by the facts.”
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) explains that any countries which have had the travel advisory lifted is “based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risks.”
The news comes as a blow to Britons with plans to jet off to Portugal, now likely facing cancelled holidays.
Some travel operators, such as Jet2 and TUI, maintain a promise not to fly Britons to any countries where quarantine is mandatory.
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According to TUI: “We promise we’ll only take you on quarantine-free holidays. This means we won’t travel to places where we know you will need to quarantine when you arrive or when you return home.”
Meanwhile, Jet2 states: “We’ll only take you to destinations where you don’t have to quarantine, so you can really enjoy your time away.”
In this instance, it is likely customers will be entitled to a full refund.
However, the rules vary depending on travel operators, with some continuing to run flights to the nation.
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Those with plans to travel in the coming weeks should speak with their chosen travel provider to discuss their options.
The latest news is likely to come as a blow to Portugal, particularly in regions such as the Algarve which have had significantly low rates of COVID-19, but which rely heavily on tourism.
Around 30 percent of the Algarve’s tourists usually arrive from the UK, yet with a two-week mandatory quarantine waiting for Britons when they return home, many feel put off their usual holiday haunt.
According to euronews, industry analysts have predicted tourism figures will only reach about a third of the usual numbers this summer.
Portugal’s ambassador has spoken out about the decision by Boris Johnson’s government, citing it as “bad science”.
The country’s home affairs minister pointed the finger back at the UK, saying Portugal is “manifestly not where the risk is”.
The Government continues to review the current quarantine-free travel list on a weekly basis.
Speaking to Sky News, Mr Shapps said: “Now, each week actually, we are reviewing and, where required, updating the list of countries it’s safe to travel to.”
Each UK nation has set out its own quarantine-free travel list, with different countries being given the green light for England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
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