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Portugal ‘to be removed from travel green list’

By Neil Lancefield, PA Transport Correspondent

Portugal will be removed from the green travel list on Thursday, it has been reported.

The summer hotspot will be put on the amber list following a meeting between the Westminster and devolved governments, and the Joint Biosecurity Centre, according to the BBC.

People returning to the UK from amber list countries must self-isolate at home for 10 days as part of coronavirus restrictions.

Meanwhile Afghanistan, Sudan and Egypt will be added to the red list, the Financial Times reported.

That means people arriving in the UK from those nations will be required to stay in a quarantine hotel for 11 nights.

The Department for Transport refused to comment on the reports, but an official announcement is expected to be made later on Thursday.

Many holidaymakers in Portugal face a scramble for flights home before the move is introduced, which is expected to be on Tuesday.

The Government’s decision on Portugal is a huge blow for the travel industry, as the country was the only viable major tourist destination on the green list.

It is only 17 days since the ban on non-essential leisure travel from Britain was lifted.

Portugal’s seven-day rate of coronavirus cases per 100,000 people stands at 37.2, up from 30.7 a week earlier.

The PA news agency understands that no additions will be made to the list on Thursday, despite speculation that Spanish and Greek islands and Malta could be added.

Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said this is a “terrible decision”.

He told PA: “They are basically putting at risk tens of thousands of jobs across aviation and the travel sector, and not showing any signs of helping the sector to recover.

“They seem to want to continue to create an atmosphere of fear among travellers, which is totally at odds with other countries.

“There are several countries which meet the criteria to be on the green list so this is clearly a politically charged decision rather than one based on data.”

Robert Boyle, former director of strategy at British Airways’ parent company IAG, said: “In theory, we know what is being measured and the data sources being used, as the Government has published that.

“What we don’t know is what the thresholds are and how they get from the data to the decisions.

“I think the truth is they follow the opinion polls.”

The Government has previously said assessments of travel lists are based on a range of factors, including the proportion of a population that has been vaccinated, rates of infection, emerging new variants, and access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing.

Additions to the red list are expected on Thursday, with Bahrain, Costa Rica, Malaysia and Thailand among potential candidates.

People returning to the UK from red-list locations must stay in a quarantine hotel at a cost of £1,750 for solo travellers.

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