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British holidaymakers rush to book early flights home from Portugal

British holidaymakers are rushing to book early flights home from Portugal as the country looks set to go back onto the UK’s quarantine list.

Direct flights from Faro to London are selling fast, starting at around £250 for a seat mid-week and rising to more than £300 on Friday.

London-based businessman Sergio Dionisio is predicting his expensive 11.40pm landing at Stansted on Friday will beat the new quarantine rules by 20 minutes. 

‘I just managed to buy another 3 tickets to return to London on Friday arriving at 23.40 in Stansted avoiding the quarantine, I have been searching since Saturday and I only found 3 tickets today with Ryanair paying another £1250 for 3 of us and losing my Sunday tickets, just crazy.’ Mr Dionisio tweeted.

There were 21.1 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in the country over the seven days to August 30 – up from 19.4 in the week to August 29.

A rate of 20 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people over a seven-day period is the level ministers look at to trigger isolation rules.    

There are fears that Portugal might be placed on the UK’s quarantine list again, after a spike in cases took it perilously close to the government’s threshold. Pictured, Costa da Caparica beach in Almada

When the cumulative number of Covid-19 cases hits 20 per 100,000 people over a seven-day period ministers consider triggering isolation rules. The total of 2,171 cases in Portugal over the past week gives a level of 21.1 per 100,000 population

When the cumulative number of Covid-19 cases hits 20 per 100,000 people over a seven-day period ministers consider triggering isolation rules. The total of 2,171 cases in Portugal over the past week gives a level of 21.1 per 100,000 population

London-based businessman Sergio Dionisio is predicting his expensive 11.40pm landing at Stansted on Friday will beat the new quarantine rules by 20 minutes.

London-based businessman Sergio Dionisio is predicting his expensive 11.40pm landing at Stansted on Friday will beat the new quarantine rules by 20 minutes.

Sergio Dionisio, Chief Executive Officer at Starplus Cleaning services, booked three Ryanair tickets for £1,250

Sergio Dionisio, Chief Executive Officer at Starplus Cleaning services, booked three Ryanair tickets for £1,250

One holidaymaker said she was about to lose ‘the only thing I’ve been looking forward to this year,’ as rising figures look set for Portugal to return to the list – just over a week after the government said Brits could travel there safely. 

Writing in The Times, Willie Walsh, chief executive of International Airlines Group, said: ‘Another U-turn by the Government, adding Portugal to the quarantine list, will cause further chaos and hardship for travellers.’

He said the ‘ever-shifting list’ of countries requiring quarantine means ‘the UK has officially hung up the ‘Closed’ sign’.

Mr Walsh said: ‘The Government is using arbitrary statistics to effectively ban 160 countries and in the process destroying the economy.

‘The Government needs to introduce a testing regime to restore confidence.’  

Around 75,000 UK nationals are thought to be on holiday in Portugal or due to fly there imminently. 

Many could face having to fly home early to beat a deadline before any quarantine restriction is imposed. 

A clamp on travellers from Portugal would represent a further embarrassment for a Government which has been lambasted for its ‘shambolic’ marshalling of the travel sector during the pandemic. The quarantine rules are reviewed at the end of each week, but ministers have made clear they will act more quickly if necessary.  

Searches for flights to Portugal soared after the country was removed from the UK’s quarantine list just over a week ago.

Passengers arriving in the UK from Portugal no longer had to self-isolate from 4am on Saturday August 22 after an approved travel corridor was confirmed. 

The government today played down the prospect of routine coronavirus testing at airports – suggesting it would miss too many cases to be effective.

Britain’s ambassador to Portugal Chris Sainty said: ‘Travellers should consider their plans carefully and factor in the risks of travelling abroad in this fast-moving situation. 

‘As Grant Shapps said, only travel if you are content to unexpectedly quarantine if required.’

Environment Secretary George Eustice said border controls were always kept under review, but warned that screening on arrival would not remove the risk of the disease being imported into the country. 

Chris Sainty, Britain's ambassador to Portugal, said Brits abroad should only travel if they are 'content to unexpectedly quarantine'

Chris Sainty, Britain’s ambassador to Portugal, said Brits abroad should only travel if they are ‘content to unexpectedly quarantine’

The comments came amid fears that Portugal might be placed on the quarantine list again, after a spike in cases took it perilously close to the government’s threshold.  

In a round of interviews this morning, Mr Eustice was asked whether it was time for the government to heed calls for widespread testing at airports as part of the UK’s response to the pandemic. 

‘Obviously all of these things are always kept under review,’ he told Sky News.

‘The advice so far on testing on arrival at airports is that the likelihood of missing people who are maybe asymptomatic and therefore won’t show up on the test is quite high.

‘Somebody can pass negative to a test and therefore think they are okay and find a few days later they develop symptoms.’

The remarks followed concern that almost 200 passengers who were on a flight from the Greek island of Zante a week ago have now been told to self-isolate. 

There are 16 cases of Covid-19 linked to people who took Tui flight 6215 to Cardiff on August 25. 

In a round of interviews this morning, Environment Secretary George Eustice was asked whether widespread testing at airports should be part of the UK's response to the pandemic

In a round of interviews this morning, Environment Secretary George Eustice was asked whether widespread testing at airports should be part of the UK’s response to the pandemic

Portugal is listed as an 'amber' nation, meaning it is approaching the UK threshold for quarantine with 19.4 virus cases per 100,000 people over a seven-day cumulative count

Portugal is listed as an ‘amber’ nation, meaning it is approaching the UK threshold for quarantine with 19.4 virus cases per 100,000 people over a seven-day cumulative count

Paul Charles, boss of travel consultancy PC Agency, said the figures for Portugal suggest it could be taken off the Foreign Office travel corridor list in days. 

He added: ‘Portugal is likely to go back on the UK’s quarantine list this week and the country itself is now preparing a ‘state of contingency’ from September 15.

‘It has been unable to manage its caseload over the last two weeks as more tourists have entered Portugal, especially Lisbon and Porto.’

PC Agency, which publishes a daily tally of country infection rates, listed Portugal as an ‘amber’ nation, meaning it is approaching the UK threshold for quarantine with 19.4 virus cases per 100,000 people over a seven-day cumulative count – compared with 12.2 in Britain. 

Brits preparing to head abroad have expressed their disappointment at the possibility of a cancelled holiday, with one person saying they were ‘done with 2020’.

Taking to Twitter, one user said it would be a ‘joke,’ if it was put back on the list, writing: ‘I hope I don’t need to cancel my holiday for the third time this year because of quarantine. Already lost money on previous cancellations.’ 

Holidaymakers look set for more disappointment, should Portugal be added back on to the quarantine list

Holidaymakers look set for more disappointment, should Portugal be added back on to the quarantine list

Another complained: ‘The only thing I’ve been looking forward to this year is Portugal and it was off the quarantine list and now it might be going back on!!! Sick and tired of everything.’ 

In late June, ministers began encouraging Britons to holiday abroad to boost the travel industry as restrictions were eased, only to warn within weeks that ‘no travel is risk-free.’ 

That followed a decision to introduce quarantine measures on arrivals from Spain with just five hours’ notice.

Mr Charles suggested yesterday that Portugal had been a ‘victim of its own success in attracting so many tourists rapidly’. 

When Portugal was added to the travel corridor list on August 22 – meaning no need for holidaymakers to quarantine for 14 days upon their return to the UK – flight comparison site Skyscanner reported a 2,000 per cent increase in bookings.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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