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UK tourists’ fury as government keeps Portugal on safe travel list

Families have told of their agony after paying huge prices to get home from Portugal to beat a heavily-hinted new quarantine – only for the restriction to never appear. 

Bristol single dad John Cushing said he had to cut his Portugal holiday short beat the quarantine that never happened and get his daughter Georgie, 12, back to school.

He paid £1,000 for flights home on Thursday after seeing reports it could have been added to the list.

He said: ‘My daughter was in tears yesterday at the thought of not being able to go back to school and see her friends.

‘She has already missed most of year seven [at school] and I can’t let her miss the first two weeks of year eight.

‘The airlines have us over a barrel and don’t seem to have any sympathy.” 

A holiday goer arrives home from Portugal today

Holiday goers arriving back to the UK after Portugal was not added to the UK quarantine list

The UK's key metric for introducing quarantine is how many cases a country has had in total over the past week, adjusted to per 100,000 of population. Spain and France are still well above the level, while Portugal has also crept over it

 The UK’s key metric for introducing quarantine is how many cases a country has had in total over the past week, adjusted to per 100,000 of population. Spain and France are still well above the level, while Portugal has also crept over it

Scotland and Wales have imposed restrictions on Greece, even though the case rates are still relatively low

Scotland and Wales have imposed restrictions on Greece, even though the case rates are still relatively low

Portugal has been above the trigger threshold for UK quarantine measures for the past few days - but Grant Shapps said they were also looking at the proportion of tests that come back positive, and that had fallen

Portugal has been above the trigger threshold for UK quarantine measures for the past few days – but Grant Shapps said they were also looking at the proportion of tests that come back positive, and that had fallen 

Jonathan Lake with his son. The Welsh father-of-two whose family will have to self-isolate for 14 days after remaining out in Greece has branded the inconsistency between Westminster and Cardiff 'an absolute joke'

Jonathan Lake with his son. The Welsh father-of-two whose family will have to self-isolate for 14 days after remaining out in Greece has branded the inconsistency between Westminster and Cardiff ‘an absolute joke’

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 

Grant Shapps sparks furious row with Scotland and Wales over quarantine travel rules

Grant Shapps sparked a bitter row with Scotland and Wales today after accusing them of quarantining Portugal and Greece because they had not inspected the data closely enough.

Amid rising anger from bewildered holidaymakers that the system amounts to ‘roulette’, the Transport Secretary conceded that starkly different approaches within the UK were ‘confusing’.

But he insisted that the Westminster government had assessed the best evidence and concluded that Portugal was still low-risk, and swiped at Scotland for decreeing that travellers from Greece must self-isolate this week before even seeing the latest data. He said Welsh minister might not have ‘noticed’ that the proportion of tests coming back positive in Portugal had fallen.

However, the Scottish government lashed back by accusing Mr Shapps of ‘jumping the gun’ by announcing a decision before the nations had discussed the situation.

Mr Shapps also hinted that the government could take a more regional approach in future, and admitted that airport testing – demanded by many to save the aviation industry – could cut the 14-day quarantine period in half.

He told the BBC once he heard rumours of the new travel restrictions he felt he had to get them home.

Jodie Hudson-Cox changed her plans too to come back on Friday instead of Saturday.

She added: ‘I re-booked early this week for flights coming back into East Midlands airport on Friday. We booked the flights so we weren’t sat here worrying about it all week.’

And a Welsh father-of-two, whose family will have to self-isolate for 14 days after remaining out in Greece, has branded the inconsistency between Westminster and Cardiff ‘an absolute joke.’

It comes after Wales and Scotland imposed their own quarantine rules on Portugal, Nicola Sturgeon also mandating 14-day isolation for arrivals from Greece and Wales adding six Greek islands to its list.

But the UK’s Transport Minister Grant Shapps said there would be no changes to the English travel corridors sparking fury among passengers over inconsistent messaging.  

Jonathan Lake, from Cardiff, who is staying with his wife and two children near Chania, said: ‘It’s the lack of consistent messaging and management across the whole UK Government I’m really angry about now – and the fact they’ve announced it at five o’clock UK time, so 7pm they’ve said “you’ve got until 4am tomorrow to get home”. 

‘I mean, what, am I supposed to charter a private jet to try and get me and my family home?”

Mr Lake and his family are scheduled to fly back to London Gatwick on Tuesday with Tui.

He said: ‘I’m almost at the point where I’m thinking I’m just going to book a Premier Inn or something in Bristol – if it costs me five or six hundred pounds I don’t really care, I can afford it, I’ll do it – and stay there and I’ll just live my life as normal.

‘Because if there’s 196 people on that flight from England they can just go and live their life as normal, but because I live in Wales (Welsh Health Minister) Vaughan Gething has said “screw you, I’m going to make you sit in your house for 14 days”. It’s a joke, an absolute joke.’

Mr Lake, who works in the pharmaceutical industry and says he is working on Covid trials, believes the Government is being heavy-handed in its approach to the virus.

‘I’m more likely to die and kill my whole family in a car crash on the way home from Gatwick Airport than I am of dying from Covid, let alone infect a load of other people,’ he said.

‘It is beyond sense that they are taking this approach and I am so angry at the Welsh government and the whole government at how they’re handling this pandemic because the whole country is being fed a load of rubbish in how this is being done, and I’m fed up with it.’

Kelly Jones, from Birmingham, is at the other end of the spectrum, she paid Jet2 £900 to move her flights home from Faro from Saturday to Friday.

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.  

Following a week of speculation, Transport Minister Grant Shapps 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.’ 

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. 

Brits have forked out hundreds of pounds to book urgent flights home from Portugal, amid fears it would be added onto the quarantine list

Brits have forked out hundreds of pounds to book urgent flights home from Portugal, amid fears it would be added onto the quarantine list

Mrs Jones added: ‘The Government just change the goalposts left, right and centre at the moment. It’s embarrassing.

‘They don’t make things clear enough. They say they need the rate under 20 and it’s gone above that this week, so why wouldn’t you think it would go on the quarantine list tonight?

‘You can guarantee if I hadn’t have booked those flights on Monday, that air bridge would have been removed tonight.’ 

The mother-of-three said she could not risk having to quarantine as her youngest child, who is four, is starting school for the first time next week, while her other two children, 11 and seven, are starting new schools.

‘There’s no way it would be fair on them two weeks later to go in when everyone else has already started to settle,’ she said.

In previous weeks, the Government has announced changes to its exemption list on Thursday with changes coming into force at 4am on Saturday, leading to a scramble for passengers to return in time to avoid having to quarantine.

Mrs Jones believes it would be fairer on holidaymakers if they were given more time to change their plans.

Some holidaymakers reacted positively to Grant Shapps' announcement - but many were angered by the decision and predict a Government U-turn 'within hours'

Some holidaymakers reacted positively to Grant Shapps’ announcement – but many were angered by the decision and predict a Government U-turn ‘within hours’

Travelers board a flight in Lisbon n its way to the UK. But it turned out they could have stayed in Portugal and still avoided quarantine when they got home

Travelers board a flight in Lisbon n its way to the UK. But it turned out they could have stayed in Portugal and still avoided quarantine when they got home

‘It’s always lastminute.com with the Government,’ she said. ‘They do the announcement on a Thursday night and then you’ve got til 4 o’clock on a Saturday morning to get home, which they know you can’t do.

‘They don’t give you enough time to do anything. They could have said at the start of the week ‘the numbers are going up but we’re going to sit on it for another seven to 10 days’ but they don’t do that.

‘It’s like, ‘we make the decision at five o’clock on a Thursday night and that’s it: bang, get home’. That’s where it’s wrong.’  

Today Wales added mainland Portugal, and the Greek islands of Mykonos, Zakynthos, Lesvos, Crete and Paros and Antiparos to its quarantine list. 

Azores and Madeira will remain exempt, Health Minister Vaughan Gething saidy, but Gibraltar and French Polynesia have been added. 

Derek Lowdon told Sky News his brother paid a 'ridiculous amount' to cut his holiday short and return home to avoid quarantine

Derek Lowdon told Sky News his brother paid a ‘ridiculous amount’ to cut his holiday short and return home to avoid quarantine

Anyone arriving in Wales from those areas from 4am on Friday must self-isolate for 14 days. 

In a statement issued on Thursday evening, Mr Gething said: ‘This action is being taken as a result of a large number of cases of coronavirus have been imported into Wales from tourists returning from the Greek islands, in particular.

‘In the last week, there have been more than 20 cases confirmed in passengers on one flight from Zante to Cardiff.’ 

The Scottish Government required travellers from Greece to self-isolate for 14 days from Thursday. 

Passengers arriving into Scotland from Portugal or French Polynesia will have to self isolate for two weeks as of Saturday, the Scottish Justice Secretary has confirmed.

Humza Yousaf tweeted: ‘If arriving into Scotland from Portugal or French Polynesia from 4am Sat you’ll have to self-isolate for 14 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

‘Gibraltar high up our watch list of countries we are monitoring closely.

‘This week’s data shows increase in test positivity & cases per 100k in Portugal.’

English families remain confused despite today’s announcement – after some cut their holidays short or cancelled them in fear of quarantine measures being introduced. 

Speaking in Portugal, 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.

Countries on UK Government’s quarantine list  

England’s Quarantine List:  

Spain

France 

Croatia

Malta

UAE

Jamaica 

Trinidad and Tobago 

The Bahamas 

Switzerland

Belgium

Czech Republic

Austria

Netherlands

Bulgaria

Canada

Singapore 

Scotand’s Quarantine List also includes:

Portugal, Greece and French Polynesia.

The Welsh Quarantine List also includes: 

Gibraltar, mainland Portugal, French Polynesia and six Greek islands: Mykonos, Zakynthos, Lesvos, Crete and Paros and Antiparos

 

‘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.’

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: ‘Days of speculation around this announcement meant many people rushed to pay extortionate prices for flights back to England to avoid having to quarantine on their return – only to now find out there was no need.

‘The Government knows this and yet it continues to offer no clarity around how these decisions are made, all while ignoring the growing evidence suggesting this system is not working.

‘If the Government is serious about letting international travel resume while prioritising public health, a major reassessment of its approach is needed.

‘It must also look further ahead to ensuring future travel is protected and bring in major reforms to restore confidence among holidaymakers who have been let down over this period.’

Tennis player Emma Coe, 15, said: ‘If I went back to England, I would be missing two weeks of tennis training.

‘I go to this full-time tennis academy at Dukes Meadows and I’ll be missing a lot of training.

‘My dad had to go home and my three brothers. My dad had to cut his holiday short from a week to four or five days.’

She said her father would be feeling ‘pretty annoyed’ that he cut his holiday short in anticipation the government would put Portugal on the quarantine list.

He had to pay extra for flights home for himself and his two sons.

Emma said: ‘My two other brothers would be annoyed. Very frustrating.’

After days of speculation, jubilant Brits looking forward to a holiday praised the Transport Minister for his 'discretion' - but many tourists already in Portugal are furious

After days of speculation, jubilant Brits looking forward to a holiday praised the Transport Minister for his ‘discretion’ – but many tourists already in Portugal are furious

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. 

Britain has recorded another 17 coronavirus deaths today in the preliminary count - while new recorded cases rose by 1,735

Britain has recorded another 17 coronavirus deaths today in the preliminary count – while new recorded cases rose by 1,735

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.’

Now Wales hits back at Grant Shapps in quarantine list row: Furious health minister claims there was ‘very clear advice’ to add Portugal after devolved nations were accused of ‘jumping the gun’

Wales has hit back at Grant Shapps in the quarantine list row as its furious health minister claimed there was ‘very clear advice’ to add Portugal after devolved nations were accused of ‘jumping the gun’.

Vaughan Gething also said there had been a ‘rising tide of infections’ coming from the Greek islands and insisted the measure had been imposed to keep Wales safe.

The Welsh Government on Thursday said travellers from Portugal, Gibraltar, French Polynesia and six Greek island from 4am on Friday would have to self-isolate for 14 days.

The Azores and Madeira are exempt from the quarantine requirement, which applies to the Greek islands of Mykonos, Zakynthos, Lesvos, Paros, Antiparos and Crete.

One holidaymaker in Crete slammed the Welsh Government’s decision as ‘an absolute joke’ and said it was ‘beyond sense that they are taking this approach’.

It comes after Mr Shapps sparked a bitter row with Scotland and Wales after accusing them of quarantining Portugal and Greece because they had not inspected the data closely enough.

But Mr Gething told the Today programme there had been ‘very clear advice’ from the Joint Biosecurity Centre, as well as a number of cases being imported into Wales.

The Welsh Government on Tuesday advised passengers returning from Zakynthos to quarantine for two weeks and offered Covid-19 tests within 48 hours of their return, as well as eight days later.

‘That was because in the week before we had over 30 cases from four different flights, two of which had landed in England,’ Mr Gething told the BBC.

‘On that flight which landed in Cardiff on Tuesday, there are over 20 direct cases – that’s more than 10 per cent of that flight.

‘Seeing a rising tide of infections coming in from that list of islands, having that direct experience in Wales and very clear advice about the higher risk to UK public health from the JBC, I did not feel that there was any course of action other than taking some form of action.

‘It’s not for me to explain why others haven’t done that, but I’m very clear that we’re following that advice and keeping Wales safe.’ 

Vaughan Gething (pictured) said there had been a 'rising tide of infections' coming from the Greek islands and insisted the measure had been imposed to keep Wales safe

Vaughan Gething (pictured) said there had been a ‘rising tide of infections’ coming from the Greek islands and insisted the measure had been imposed to keep Wales safe

The UK assesses quarantine measures on how many cases countries have reported in total over seven days, per 100,000 of population. The rough threshold for imposing controls is 20

The UK assesses quarantine measures on how many cases countries have reported in total over seven days, per 100,000 of population. The rough threshold for imposing controls is 20

Portugal has been above the trigger threshold for UK quarantine measures for the past few days - but Grant Shapps said they were also looking at the proportion of tests that come back positive, and that had fallen

Portugal has been above the trigger threshold for UK quarantine measures for the past few days – but Grant Shapps said they were also looking at the proportion of tests that come back positive, and that had fallen 

Scotland and Wales have imposed restrictions on Greece, even though the case rates are still relatively low

Scotland and Wales have imposed restrictions on Greece, even though the case rates are still relatively low

An exclusive poll for MailOnline by Redfield & Wilton Strategies found just 24 per cent believe the quarantine system is working, while 48 per cent say it is not

An exclusive poll for MailOnline by Redfield & Wilton Strategies found just 24 per cent believe the quarantine system is working, while 48 per cent say it is not 

Amid rising anger from bewildered holidaymakers that the system amounts to ‘roulette’, Transport Secretary Mr Shapps conceded starkly different approaches within the UK were ‘confusing’.

But he insisted the Westminster government had assessed the best evidence and concluded that Portugal was still low-risk, and swiped at Scotland for decreeing that travellers from Greece must self-isolate this week before even seeing the latest data. He said Welsh minister might not have ‘noticed’ that the proportion of tests coming back positive in Portugal had fallen.

However, the Scottish government lashed back by accusing Mr Shapps of ‘jumping the gun’ by announcing a decision before the nations had discussed the situation. 

Mr Shapps also hinted that the government could take a more regional approach in future, and admitted that airport testing – demanded by many to save the aviation industry – could cut the 14-day quarantine period in half.

No10 dodges over advice on Portugal 

No10 today dodged questions over whether it followed scientific advice in deciding not to add Portugal and Greece to the quarantine list. 

Downing Street did not deny that the advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) was that travel from Portugal and the six Greek islands restricted by Wales presents a risk of spreading coronavirus.

Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething said Wales was acting ‘in line with’ the risk assessments from the JBC in imposing a 14-day quarantine on arrivals from those areas.

A No 10 spokesman repeatedly declined to comment on what the JBC advice was but when pressed whether he disputes Mr Gething’s assessment, the spokesman said: ‘No.

‘Ministers assess the data which is provided by JBC and the JBC risk assessments are assessed by ministers.’

The desperate defence came amid growing evidence that the public is losing patience with the regime. An exclusive poll for MailOnline by Redfield & Wilton Strategies found just 24 per cent believe it is working, while 48 per cent say it is not.

Most third wanting more countries added to the safe list.

Expectations had been growing for days that Portugal would be added to the quarantine roll this week after the total weekly cases per 100,000 of population rose above the UK’s trigger threshold of 20.

Mr Shapps had previously indicated that this was the main metric the government would look at to impose restrictions. But last night, he announced that there would be no change – pointing out that the proportion of tests coming back positive still remained low.

The move left some holidaymakers complaining that they had been forced to come home early unnecessarily to avoid quarantine, while others had stayed on and were caught out by the change in the nations.  

The Cabinet minister took thinly-veiled swipes at Wales and Scotland for their action today.  

Scotland and Wales are imposing 14 days of isolation on arrivals from Portugal. Scotland is also including Greece on its quarantine list, while Wales added seven Greek islands.

On a visit to an HS2 site in Solihull today, Boris Johnson said the different devolved administrations have ‘different rates of infectivity’ and approaches to the crisis.

‘But overwhelmingly the UK is proceeding as one,’ he said.

‘I think you will find if you dig below the surface of some of the surface differentiations you will find overwhelmingly the UK takes the same approach.’

Mr Shapps told Sky News: ‘I do realise it creates confusion for people not to have a single rule, but we do have this devolved approach throughout the United Kingdom and I can only be responsible for the English part of that.’

He said that Welsh ministers ‘had not perhaps noticed or seen’ that the proportion of positive tests had fallen in Portugal, as the overall number of tests were up.

And Mr Shapps claimed that Scotland had taken steps against Greece earlier this week without waiting to see the latest data from the Joint Biosecurity Centre. 

He said the UK Government’s review concluded no changes were necessary partly because test positivity in Portugal came down while the number of cases overall in Greece had fallen.

Shapps admits airport testing could halve quarantine period 

Grant Shapps today admitted that introducing coronavirus testing at airports could halve the 14-day quarantine period. 

The Transport Secretary told Sky News the government was not ‘ignoring’ desperate pleas from the aviation sector. 

‘I know that airport testing is one of those things that sounds so logical. You come in, you get a test, perhaps one of these very quick test and you are free not to quarantine,’ he said.

‘The problem we have, and this is what I am working with airports on at the moment, and the industry, is that a day zero test as you get home is unlikely to find the vast majority of people who have travelled with coronavirus but are asymptomatic…

‘There are arguments about this, but PHE say that would perhaps pick up just seven per cent of people who are in fact positive, and allow those people to sort of go off.

‘So you probably have to have some kind of quarantine period in here, perhaps seven or eight days, maybe a test then.

‘But these are the things that we are working through at the moment.’

Mr Shapps also said there was an ‘argument’ for judging islands separately from mainland countries. ‘I think there is an argument for regionalising it… but having said that… actually the islands (in Spain) now wouldn’t be fine.

‘But it is fluid and I do accept there is space to look at those types of things.’

‘If you test more people, of course your number of positives per 100,000 would be more just as a product of having tested more people,’ he said.

‘We don’t want to penalise a country for doing the right thing, what we’re additionally interested in is how many of those tests were actually positive.

‘So it’s getting that and in addition how it’s been treated, how fast it’s moving and whether the government in that country has a plan in place and many other factors that have to do with it.’ 

The Scottish Government said it was ‘unfortunate’ that Westminster announced its quarantine decision before ministers from across the UK considered the latest data showing a ‘significant rise’ in cases in Portugal.

A spokesman said: ‘In the case of Greece, we had a worrying number of people in Scotland who tested positive for Covid-19 and who had returned from Greece within seven days of the onset of symptoms. The Scottish Government could not afford to ignore that growing threat to public health.

‘In the case of Portugal, it was unfortunate that the UK Government announced their decision yesterday before ministers from England, Scotland and Northern Ireland met and before considering the latest Joint Biosecurity Centre data. This indicated a significant rise in both the prevalence of the virus in Portugal and in test positivity.

‘As ministers have said repeatedly, we are in the midst of a global pandemic and the situation in many countries can change suddenly. Therefore, people should think very hard before committing to non-essential travel abroad.’

Downing Street did not deny that the advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) was that travel from Portugal and the six Greek islands restricted by Wales presents a risk of spreading coronavirus.

Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething said Wales was acting ‘in line with’ the risk assessments from the JBC in imposing a 14-day quarantine on arrivals from those areas.

A No 10 spokesman repeatedly declined to comment on what the JBC advice was but when pressed whether he disputes Mr Gething’s assessment, the spokesman said: ‘No.

‘Ministers assess the data which is provided by JBC and the JBC risk assessments are assessed by ministers.’ 

Mr Shapps said testing at airports is not a ‘silver bullet solution’ to end quarantining and the ‘vast majority’ of asymptomatic cases would not be detected by one test alone. 

But he told Sky News they were not ‘ignoring’ calls for testing at airports – and it could potentially slash the quarantine period in half. 

‘I know that airport testing is one of those things that sounds so logical. You come in, you get a test, perhaps one of these very quick test and you are free not to quarantine,’ he said.

‘The problem we have, and this is what I am working with airports on at the moment, and the industry, is that a day zero test as you get home is unlikely to find the vast majority of people who have travelled with coronavirus but are asymptomatic…

‘There are arguments about this, but PHE say that would perhaps pick up just seven per cent of people who are in fact positive, and allow those people to sort of go off.

‘So you probably have to have some kind of quarantine period in here, perhaps seven or eight days, maybe a test then.

‘But these are the things that we are working through at the moment.’

Mr Shapps also said there was an ‘argument’ for judging islands separately from mainland countries. ‘I think there is an argument for regionalising it… but having said that… actually the islands (in Spain) now wouldn’t be fine.

‘But it is fluid and I do accept there is space to look at those types of things.’

There had been speculation that Westminster would reimpose the requirement on Portugal due to a spike in Covid-19 cases, leading many holidaymakers to pay hundreds of pounds to fly home this week.

Jonathan Lake with his son. The Welsh father-of-two whose family will have to self-isolate for 14 days after remaining out in Greece has branded the inconsistency between Westminster and Cardiff 'an absolute joke'

Jonathan Lake with his son. The Welsh father-of-two whose family will have to self-isolate for 14 days after remaining out in Greece has branded the inconsistency between Westminster and Cardiff ‘an absolute joke’

In a round of interviews today, Grant Shapps admitted the government's coronavirus quarantine rules cause 'confusion' after England kept Portugal on the safe list - despite Scotland and Wales imposing curbs

In a round of interviews today, Grant Shapps admitted the government’s coronavirus quarantine rules cause ‘confusion’ after England kept Portugal on the safe list – despite Scotland and Wales imposing curbs

In Wales, the need to isolate for 14 days when arriving from Portugal, Gibraltar and seven Greek islands came into force at 4am on Friday.

In Scotland, passengers arriving from Portugal will have to quarantine from 4am on Saturday, as well as those arriving from French Polynesia.

Scotland began requiring travellers from anywhere in Greece to enter quarantine from Thursday.

There were 23 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people in Portugal in the seven days to Wednesday, up from 15.3 a week earlier.

A seven-day rate of 20 is the threshold above which the UK Government has considered triggering quarantine conditions.

Industry leaders and holidaymakers criticised the Government, saying travellers are ‘totally confused’ by the different approaches in Westminster and the devolved administrations. Critics have labelled the system ‘quarantine roulette’. 

Kelly Jones and her family changed their flights home from the Algarve from Saturday to Friday at a cost of £900 to avoid a potential quarantine, because she did not want her children to miss two weeks of school.

The 45-year-old from Birmingham said the situation was ‘absolutely disgusting’, telling the PA news agency: ‘The Government just change the goalposts left, right and centre at the moment. It’s embarrassing.’

Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy the PC Agency, said: ‘The quarantine policy is in tatters and dividing the United Kingdom.

‘Consumers are totally confused by the different approaches and it’s impossible to understand the Government’s own criteria any more on when to add or remove a country.’

It came as figures showed the number of close contacts of people who tested positive for Covid-19 being reached through Test and Trace was at its lowest since the system was launched.

Thursday also saw the highest daily total of virus cases since June 4, with 1,735 positive results in the 24 hours to 9am.

 

  • Have YOU raced home due to quarantine? Email mark.duell@mailonline.co.uk 

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