The Government has decided to keep Portugal and Greece on the quarantine-free list, despite days of speculation over soaring cases sparking holidaymakers to make a scramble home tonight.
Following a week of speculation, the Transport Minister tweeted today: ‘We continue to keep the Travel Corridor list under constant review & won’t hesitate to remove countries if needed.
‘However, there are no English additions or removals today.
‘Nonetheless, holidaymakers are reminded – 14-day quarantine countries can & do change at very short notice.’
There has been widespread speculation this week that Portugal could be added to the UK’s quarantine list – but today Grant Shapps has announced there will be no changes
Sources told MailOnline that although Portugal was above the ‘trigger’ threshold for cases per 100,000 people over a seven-day period, that appeared to be because they were carrying out more tests.
‘The rate of positives per test has actually gone down,’ one senior source said.
The rate of Covid cases in Portugal has been above 20 per 100,000 for the past three days – the level at which the government considers introducing a quarantine.
Yesterday the number of new cases rose to 390 from 231 the day before, suggesting the current seven-day average of 22.7 will not decrease.
The Government’s announcement comes after many holidaymakers booked flights home costing up to £554 to avoid a potential quarantine requirement.
Brits have forked out hundreds of pounds to book urgent flights home from Portugal, amid fears it would be added onto the quarantine list
Holidaymaker Derek Lowdon told Sky News earlier: ‘I’m a bit confused because I’ve just arrived today and, obviously hearing the rumours about quarantine, my son and wife have been unable to join me.
‘My brother has had to rush home because he’s had to go back to work and his son has got to go to university, so it’s a kind of double edged sword for me.
‘On one hand, it now sounds like my wife and son can come, which is fantastic, but my brother has now rushed home today and paid a ridiculous amount for a flight home and cut his holiday short from two weeks to four or five days.
The rate of coronavirus cases per 100,000 of population in Greece over the past seven days is just 14 – well short of the government’s quarantine threshold of 20
‘It’s just this kind of confusion that is difficult for people.
‘It’s very unfair because people seem to be put on very short notice and not only is it very expensive, but they don’t know whether they are coming or going.
‘I mean it’s understandable that there’s issues and that’s fine. There’s been a spike in Lisbon, which is perfectly understandable.
‘But the Algarve, from the start of Covid, has been one of the safest places in the whole of Europe.
‘So why does it seem to be constantly punished? I think the locals are the best people to ask because they are totally bemused.’
Countries on UK Government’s quarantine list
Meanwhile, cases in Greece are currently at a similar level to the UK.
People arriving in England from countries not on the travel corridor list are required to self-isolate for 14 days.
The Government was also under pressure to reimpose quarantine rules on arrivals from Greece after Scotland and Wales introduced restrictions earlier this week.
Rising Covid cases prompted the Scottish Government to announce travellers from Greece would have to self-isolate for 14 days from today, while Wales began asking arrivals from the island of Zante to enter quarantine.
The UK’s biggest tour operator Tui has suspended its holidays to the resort of Laganas on Zante.
But Greece has insisted it is doing ‘everything in our power’ to keep UK holidaymakers safe.
There were 14.3 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in Greece in the seven days to September 1, up from 14.1 a week earlier. This is a similar rate to the UK and still below the quarantine threshold.
It comes as rising cases in Portugal were prompting many UK tourists to pay hundreds of pounds to fly home before Saturday.
Earlier today the UK announced 1,735 new coronavirus cases in the biggest daily spike since June 4, when 1,805 were diagnosed with the disease and before the lifting of several lockdown restrictions.
The seven-day rolling average is now 1,435, a 26 per cent increase in a singular week as figures suggest cases are not slowing down.
The UK’s ambassador to Portugal, Chris Sainty, said on Monday: ‘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.’