Travellers in France, the Netherlands and Malta have already fallen victim to sudden travel corridor changes leaving them racing to get home or facing 14-days of mandatory quarantine. Now, mounting fears suggest Portugal could be one of the next to be axed – just weeks after Britons were finally allowed to travel.
However, British Airways bosses have warned that removing the holiday hotspot once more could have a detrimental impact.
Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways’ parent company IAG has said that reimposing quarantine rules for Portugal would cause “further chaos and hardship”.
In the wake of travel corridor rules, holidaymakers have been left fighting to get refunds, meanwhile, travel companies and airlines have struggled to stay afloat.
Writing for the Times, Mr Walsh condemned the Government’s fast-moving approach to removing nations.
“Healthy people shouldn’t be locked up for 14 days simply because they have been travelling,” he said.
He added: “Relaxing on holiday pose no more of a threat than someone catching a bus to the supermarket.”
He described ministers as taking a “chaotic approach to quarantine”, pointing out recent moves: “France, but not Italy; Portugal and then not Portugal and the Canary Islands – hundreds of miles from mainland Spain.”
Indeed, already holidaymakers are reportedly feeling the effects of the looming threat.
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Airline ticket costs are rapidly rising as holidaymakers in the country race to get home before any potential changes come into place.
Travel expert Simon Calder warned: “Of course you want to hope for the best but if there’s a reason why you cannot self-isolate for two weeks when you come back – you’ve got to go to school or you’ve got to go to work – then I would be making plans to get out.
“That’s a lot easier said than done because the price of flights has gone through the roof.”
Yet along with rising costs for holidaymakers, combined with the requirement to self-isolate, Mr Walsh also pointed to the already weak travel industry.
“Passengers want to travel. Reassuring them that flying is safe is key to any recovery,” he said.
Airlines including British Airways have recorded plummeting passenger numbers since the start of the pandemic, even as travel slowly resumes.
The airline also made approximately 10,000 workers redundant.
The Government is currently determining which nations stay and which go when it comes to its travel corridor list, based on the number of cases per 100,000 of the population.
Any nation which has over 20 in a seven day period are being reassessed by officials.
According to the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention at the time of writing, Portugal’s 14-day cumulative number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 sits at 36.9.
In the last seven days, this is a figure of 22.7 – slightly above the UK’s preferred threshold.
It’s likely that if Portugal is removed from the travel corridor list then Britons will have until 4am on Saturday to return to the UK without facing quarantine for 14 days.
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