Portugal will be removed from England’s “green list” of foreign holiday destinations allowed and no new countries will be added this week, in a significant blow to the entertainment industry ahead of the summer season.
Airlines had expected at least a handful of destinations to open later Thursday, when ministers pointed to the first changes to the so-called traffic light system for overseas travel since its discovery last month.
Instead, Portugal is coming off the revised list of countries from which people do not need to be quarantined on their return, according to two people briefed on the matter. A Whitehall official involved in the trial has confirmed he will move to the “amber list” at 4 a.m. Tuesday.
Another government insider said it was a surge of variants that prompted ministers to decide to remove him from the green list. “They’re victims of their pretty decent genomic abilities.” They have seen increases in both the Indian and Nepalese variants, so there has been little choice. ”
The decision to remove Portugal from the green list was also influenced by the Johnson government’s willingness to lift all blockade restrictions on 21 June. “There is no way we can meet step four by slowing down if we import more variants of concern,” an official said.
Passengers returning from an amber-listed country will have to self-isolate for 10 days upon their return, and take two costly polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test coronaviruses during that period.
The decision will throw tens of thousands of people’s holiday plans into chaos and cause fear in the travel industry.
Shares in major European airlines fell Thursday afternoon, with British Airways International Airlines Group and easyJet both down 5 per cent, and Ryanair down 3 per cent.
The changes evoke memories of last summer when passengers rushed to return to the UK shortly after countries were displaced by a previous system of ‘travel corridors’.
Afghanistan, Sudan and Egypt will be added to the red list, meaning that passengers arriving from those countries will face 10 days of mandatory quarantine at the hotel.
Only a dozen countries or territories were put on the green list when it was first unveiled last month in England’s traffic light system. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have unveiled largely similar systems.
The entertainment industry has put pressure on popular holiday destinations to be added to the green list.
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