By Miguel Pereira and Sergio Goncalves
LISBON – Many frustrated British travellers were heading home on Sunday from a shorter-than-expected holiday in the Algarve before a 10-day quarantine comes into force early next week due to rising coronavirus infections in Portugal.
Britain said last week it was removing Portugal from its “green list” of countries that do not require quarantine on return because of rising COVID-19 case numbers and the risk posed by coronavirus variants detected in Portugal.
Portugal had been placed on the green list just weeks earlier, but from 0400 GMT on Tuesday it will shift to the “amber list”, meaning returning Britons will need to quarantine for 10 days and take two COVID-19 tests.
Queuing for a British Airways flight to London, Bryan Kelly said he had brought his family’s return home forward from Wednesday because they would not be able to isolate.
“Very disappointing and expensive. I don’t know if the insurance will cover it. (It was) an extra 400 pounds ($566) in costs as well,” he said.
In the Algarve, the favourite Portuguese destination of British holidaymakers, Faro airport had long queues on Sunday afternoon as more travellers decided to shorten their holiday to avoid quarantine.
“We’ve waited so long to come on holiday and then we’ve had to finish it three days early to get back because we can’t quarantine for 10 days,” said Patrick Morton, another British tourist who was in the same queue. “It’s very inconvenient.”
Faro airport had 55 flights scheduled to the UK on Sunday, with a capacity to transport more than 10,000 people, compared to fewer than 20 flights from Lisbon airport, according to information on the website of Portugal’s airports operator ANA.
The president of Portugal’s hotel association AHP, Rui Martins, said the UK’s decision “will seriously compromise the entire summer”.
“Hotels, particularly in the Algarve and Madeira Island, have started to see massive cancellations,” he said in a emailed statement to Reuters.
($1 = 0.7066 pounds)