Travel chiefs' fury over Portugal list decision

Travel chiefs' fury over Portugal list decision

A number of changes to global country travel lists have been announced following the first detailed review by the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC).

Those returning from amber list countries must self-isolate at home for 10 days, unless they test negative through the government's test to release scheme, which would allow them to leave isolation early.

Seven countries - Afghanistan, Bahrain, Costa Rica, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Sudan, and Trinidad and Tobago - have been added to the red list.

The government is also announcing that as part of a limited trial, from 8 June, direct flights will be permitted to England from countries on the "red list" that were previously subject to flight bans, so long as they arrive at dedicated terminals at Heathrow and Birmingham airports. Testing will help to break chains of transmission and allow us to see which variants are circulating so make sure you get tested when you return to the United Kingdom in line with the guidance.

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".

Lockdown restrictions are easing across the United Kingdom but the Indian variant, also called the Delta variant, has caused concern.

"Moving Portugal onto the "Amber List" is not the answer".

At the moment only 12 countries are included on the green list, including Portugal, Gibraltar, Australia and New Zealand, meaning holidaymakers can visit these destinations without having to quarantine on their return.

It is only 17 days since the ban on non-essential leisure travel from the United Kingdom was lifted.

The change will come into effect at 4am on Tuesday 8 June.

Andrew Flintham, the managing director of the TUI UK travel group, blasted the announcement as "another step back for our industry".

The decision to make travellers from Portugal quarantine may be "politically motivated", an infection expert has said.

Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said this is a "terrible decision".

Yet the most recent data suggests that the replacement of Portugal with an alternative popular holiday destination is unlikely in the short term, with no country meeting the bar for the green list seemingly set by the country.

The country, along with 11 others, was rated green by United Kingdom ministers just three weeks ago. "The priority is to continue the vaccination rollout, to protect the people of this country".

The announcement came amid concerns about the spread of the Indian coronavirus variant, renamed the "Delta" variant by the World Health Organization, which has cast some doubt as to whether England's lockdown will end as planned on 21 June.

Health secretary Matt Hancock told the BBC: "We've got to protect the progress that we've made here at home whilst of course allowing for travel when it's safe to do so".

"Countries around the world have learnt the importance of that, including us here in the United Kingdom".

Seven countries are also being added to the red list from the amber list.

People arriving in the United Kingdom from amber list countries have to take two post-arrival tests on day two and day eight after arriving and self-isolate at home for 10 days, although they can reduce that time if they take an additional negative test on day five.

Earlier on Thursday, Home Office minister Victoria Atkins said the public should "exercise their common sense" about travelling overseas.

"We recommend that consumers book using tour operators to give them more confidence".

Robert Boyle, former director of strategy at British Airways' parent company IAG, said: "In theory, we know what is being measured and the data sources being used, as the government has published that".

"You have got to follow the data".

"I think the truth is they follow the opinion polls".

The news came on the same day the Government said a further 5,274 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus had been recorded in the United Kingdom as of 9am on Thursday, the highest single-day figure since March 26.

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