Portugal is tipped as being the only major European package holiday destination likely to be included on the quarantine-free ‘green list’ when foreign travel curbs are lifted from May 17.
Countries that will appear on the green, amber or red categories as part of the government’s traffic light system for reopening overseas travel are due to be revealed this afternoon (Friday).
Demand for flights to Portuguese destinations has reportedly surged with airlines raising fares.
Final decisions on which countries feature where are due to be based on their vaccination rates, prevalence of Covid-19 and their ability to analyse the genome of the virus.
Only a handful of countries are expected to make the green list and some could either have travel restrictions in place or ban international arrivals.
Most of the popular European countries including Spain, Greece, France and Italy are expected to be on the amber list, requiring returning travellers to quarantine for ten days and pay for PCR tests on days two and eight.
The green list will only start to expand after reviews in three and six weeks, signalling that European tourist destinations could be open to holidaymakers by the end of June in time for the summer peak.
Gibraltar is one of the few green list contenders that will allow Britons without a PCR test, but has limited capacity for large numbers of tourist arrivals.
The Foreign Office lifted its advice against non-essential travel to Portugal earlier in the week, alongside the Canary Islands and the Greek islands of Rhodes, Kos, Zante and Crete.
EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren told an online conference on Thursday that the UK risked being left behind by the rest of Europe if the green list was small.
Former cabinet minister Theresa Villiers, reported by The Times, said: “The green list needs to be based on a rigorous scrutiny of the evidence to ensure we don’t jeopardise the huge success of the vaccination programme.
“But as popular holiday destinations see case numbers falling, there should be some headroom to start to safely lift travel restrictions. The Covid emergency has been a long haul for many families and they deserve a break in the sun.”
A government source told The Telegraph: “It is about a slow and cautious return to travel. It is a global issue and not something we can do on our own. Just because our citizens have been vaccinated doesn’t mean they don’t have to follow other people’s rules.”