In a turn catching both unsuspecting holidaymakers and airlines off guard, the UK government has decided to remove Portugal from its ‘green list’ starting Tuesday. easyJet, the leading carrier to Portugal from UK airports, is calling the decision shocking, saying it lacks scientific justification.
Back to amber from Tuesday 04:00
In one of the most confusing and chaos-inducing pivots to date, the UK Government on Thursday removed Portugal from its list of ‘green’ destinations. When the UK revealed the traffic light system and its accompanying list last month, holiday-thirsty Britons caused airline and hotel bookings to Portugal to soar, prompting carriers such as TUI to schedule Dreamliner widebody departures to meet demand.
The decision from the authorities to place Portugal on the list of ‘amber’ countries means that UK travelers will need to quarantine for ten days when returning home starting Tuesday at 04:00. During that time, they will also need to take two expensive PCR tests. Needless to say, airlines are far from pleased by the sudden change of heart. easyJet CEO Johan Lundgren did not hold back in his criticism of the move.
“This shock decision to add Portugal to the Amber list is a huge blow to those who are currently in Portugal and those who have booked to be reunited with loved ones, or take a well-deserved break this summer. With Portuguese rates similar to those in the UK it simply isn’t justified by the science,” Mr Lundgren said in a statement.
Cutting the UK off from the rest of the world
After the announcement that Portugal, as the only realistic holiday destination for Britons to make the cut, was included in the UK’s ‘green list’, easyJet added an extra 105,000 seats on routes between the two countries.
With flights to Portuguese destinations Lisbon, Porto, Faro, and Madeira from ten UK airports, needless to say, the potential cancellations due to the government’s decision are throwing quite the wrench in the airline’s capacity planning.
“When this framework was put together, consumers were promised a waiting list to allow them to plan. Yet the government has torn up its own rule book and ignored the science, throwing peoples’ plans into chaos, with virtually no notice or alternative options for travel from the UK. This decision essentially cuts the UK off from the rest of the world,” the airline’s CEO added.
List to be reviewed in three weeks
Transport secretary Grant Shapps told the BBC that the decision was due to concerns over a mutation of the Delta variant of coronavirus, first identified in India. Sixty-eight cases have been discovered in Portugal, including an additional variant known as the Nepal mutation.
No countries were added to the green list. However, the government added seven countries to the red category – Afghanistan, Costa Rica, Bahrain, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Sudan, and Trinidad and Tobago. Travelers arriving from these destinations will now need to quarantine in a government-approved hotel for ten days at their own expense.
The UK is set to review the traffic light system list on June 28th.
Have you been affected by the UK government’s turnaround on Portuguese holidays? Do you know anyone who has? Leave a comment below and tell us about it.