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Portugal back off travel corridors list

Hungary, French Polynesia and Reunion off the list, but Sweden is added.

Portugal has been removed from the travel corridors list – just weeks after it was added, following a rise in coronavirus infections.

Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, announced on Twitter that people arriving from the country after 4am on Saturday would be required to self-isolate for 14 days. 

Hungary, French Polynesia and Reunion were also removed from the list, while Sweden was added. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has also changed its advice for each country.

However, those arriving from the Portuguese islands of the Azores and Madeira will not be required to self isolate.

It is the second time that the government has employed regionalised measures, after the Greek islands of Lesvos, Tinos, Serifos, Mykonos, Crete, Santorini and Zakynthos were removed from the list earlier in the week.

Shapps said this was possible “through enhanced data.” However, it appears as if only the rates of islands – not different mainland regions – will be taken into consideration.

An ABTA spokesperson: “Every country, mainland or island that is taken off the government’s travel lists lessens the ability of travel businesses to operate and increases the necessity for the government to provide tailored industry support.

“There are travel agents and tour operators based in every region of the UK that are viable businesses, which are unable to trade because of the measures to control the pandemic, and tens of thousands of livelihoods are at risk until we are able to move beyond widespread travel restrictions.

“As part of the Save Future Travel Coalition, ABTA has today written to the Chancellor, alongside other travel associations, setting out its suggested plan to help, which includes changes to quarantine policy, the introduction of testing and the granting of an APD holiday. It explains that with the right policy and regulatory support the government can save jobs and ensure the viability of the UK’s travel industry.”

Julia Lo Bue-Said, CEO at Advantage Travel Partnership, said: “With Portugal now being removed from the UK government’s ‘safe list’ of travel corridors, it does raise a question over what criteria the UK government is using to remove destinations given the country’s rates of infection being over the threshold this time last week. This week alone we have seen further announcements of redundancies in the sector and travel businesses failing and we cannot continue with this stop/start approach to destinations being added and removed from the list.

“We are looking at 39,000 jobs lost or at risk and that is before the majority of businesses have entered redundancy consultation. We urgently need sector-specific support and must secure the government’s backing on testing at ports of entry.  Testing on arrival and then again five days later would help to reduce the length of quarantine which is causing so much anxiety for consumers and ultimately cancellations of bookings and loss of revenue for travel agents.”