Portugal remains off a list of “safe” countries exempt from quarantine rules as part of an update of travel corridors from England.
The government today added Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia, Slovenia and St Vincent and the Grenadines to the list of countries where travellers do not need to quarantine on their return.
Portuguese government and tourism authorities have been lobbying strongly to allow British holidaymakers to return this summer without the need to self-isolate when arriving back in the UK.
But it is not one of the five new countries added to changes which take effect in England from July 28, confirming a Travel Weekly report that wholesale changes were not expected.
No mention was made of Portugal in the official Department of Transport announcement, and the country’s foreign minister insisted the decision was “not backed by facts.
Paul Charles, chief executive of the PC Agency, told the BBC: “The scale of those due to go [to Portugal] before the end of August is enormous. The decision today plants huge uncertainty in the minds of those who are booked who will be looking for refunds and changes and most won’t have a holiday. It’s going to cause uproar for operators and industry.”
Which? Travel editor Rory Boland said: “With the school summer holidays underway, news that Portugal is not being added to the government’s travel corridor list could mean cancelled trips for thousands of holidaymakers – many of whom are due to leave in the coming days.
“Many people may want to support their holiday company by accepting a refund credit note or rebooking for a later date, but it’s important operators make clear any drawbacks, including a potential price increase when moving a holiday to 2021.
“Customers have the legal right to a cash refund if their package holiday is cancelled, but several tour operators continue to refuse and delay payments. This must stop, not least of all because many families will want to rebook a trip somewhere else during the summer holidays.”
The revision came as the government urged passengers “to continue to protect themselves when considering travelling abroad by making sure they are up to date on the latest information – both at home and at their destination”.
“All travellers, including those from exempt destinations, will still be required to complete a passenger locator form on arrival into the UK,” the DfT said.
“Government will update GOV.UK with any changes on a weekly basis (should any be required) to reflect the shifting international health picture.
“We are prepared to respond rapidly if the health situation of a country deteriorates.
“The border health measures remain subject to review every 28 days in England.”
Meanwhile, Cuba, Sri Lanka and Cambodia were added to a separate Foreign Office list of countries where advice is no longer against all-but-essential travel.
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