Portugal has now been removed from the UK’s travel “red list”. This means people can return to England from Portugal – including Algarve and the region’s international airport in Faro – without being required to quarantine in a hotel.
They will, however, still have to self-isolate on their arrival, unless they have a valid exemption, and travel rules for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland may vary – at least for the time being. Other travel restrictions and lockdowns still remain in place, so tourists will have to wait a little longer to confirm their holiday plans, even if direct flights to the UK can now be resumed.
The UK ministry of transport said the decision had been taken “following indications that the risk of importing a worrying variant from these destinations (Mauritius was also removed from the list) has been reduced”, and noted that “Portugal has taken measures to mitigate the risk of its links with countries where the variants have become a concern and now has genomic surveillance in place”. Portugal was initially included on the “red list” partly because of its connections with South America, in particular Portuguese-speaking Brazil.
In Portugal, minister for internal administration Eduardo Cabrita said, “It is naturally something extremely positive because there was no basis for the inclusion of Portugal on this list… Obviously for Portugal, these decisions, both the German decision last Friday and this British decision, are a recognition of the path that, collectively, we have been taking in recent weeks”.
He was referring to the German government’s decision to declare some regions in Portugal (Alentejo, Centro, Norte and the Azores) “non-risk” destinations, which means Germans travelling there will no longer be required to undertake a COVID-19 test or go into quarantine on their return from holidays.
Cabrita stressed that Portugal has “particularly low incidence indicators” for COVID, although he added that the country would continue its efforts to consolidate these results.
Turismo do Algarve president João Fernandes also welcomed a decision that “reflects the positive epidemiological situation” in Portugal. “It allows British citizens to plan their summer holidays and to be able to begin to start taking care of their travel insurance, which was not possible for them with Portugal included on the list.”
While noting it gave a clear signal that the Algarve was well-prepared to receive tourists from the UK, he said it was not quite the final signal that the region was waiting for. “The signal we want is for British citizens to be able to travel abroad, a reality that will only become clear as of 17 May, because at this moment they can only go on essential trips.”
Prime minister Boris Johnson’s roadmap for easing lockdown restrictions is due to be reviewed on 17 May, and the tourist industry is hoping it will include a decision to once again allow international travel for leisure purposes.