Chaos as Tourists Scramble to Return to Britain Before Portugal is Demoted to the “Amber List”

There are reports of chaos in Portugal as Brits make a dash to book PCR tests and flights home before the country they were hoping to spend more time in is demoted to the Government’s “Amber List” on Tuesday at 4am. The MailOnline has the story.

Cabinet ministers destroyed the holiday plans of millions of families after abruptly downgrading Portugal from green to amber status on its travel list, citing fears over the so-called Nepal variant – even though just one case of the strain was detected in Portugal when the decision was announced on Thursday.

The move instantly wiped £2 billion off the value of airlines, while furious travel chiefs warned that it risked creating a jobs bloodbath and further wrecking a sector already devastated by successive lockdowns. 

Passengers have until 4am tomorrow to return to the U.K. or quarantine for 10 days, and must have proof of a negative PCR test taken no more than three days before their departure or face a £500. However, testing centres in Portugal were reportedly overwhelmed by the spike in demand.

There are an estimated 112,000 Britons currently in Portugal and airlines have been laying on extra flights or larger aircraft to get people home. Some 100 flights departed Faro on Saturday and there were lengthy queues snaking around the building of passengers trying to leave yesterday.

Speaking to the BBC this morning, vaccine centre volunteer Angela Mantana said she got news of the sudden decision just one day after getting to Portugal and now has to quarantine for 10 days at home because she was unable to get PCR tests or “suitable” flights back to the East Midlands. It means she cannot provide jabs at her local centre, or provide her aunt – who is shielding – her daily medication…

Another British traveller, Mike Indian described “chaotic” scenes at Faro Airport and having to push past other travellers after officials told him he would need to run to make his flight to London Luton. He told Radio 4’s Today programme he managed to board the plane with just five minutes to spare. 

Some 20,000 passengers departing from Faro at the weekend had to pay exorbitant prices to buy PCR tests so they can fly back from Portugal ahead of the 10-day quarantine deadline…

And testing labs are facing an “overwhelming” surge in demand for PCR testing which is causing holidaymakers to miss flights as test results are delayed or lost. According to Ross Tomkins, Managing Director of PCR test provider Salutaris People, testing capacity is on the “verge of collapse”. …

Yet official data now shows that just 1.5% of British travellers tested positive for coronavirus over two weeks in a sample – just three positive cases spotted out of 200 people coming from Portugal in mid-May.

Worth reading in full.

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