Published on Friday, July 24, 2020

Portugal remains off UK travel corridor list

Five destinations have been added to the 'air bridge' list of countries for English passengers - but Portugal is not one of them.

It had been hoped Portugal would be added to the list of destinations from where passengers won't need to self-isolate when arriving back in England.

Tour operators and the Portuguese authorities had been lobbying the government to add the destination to the list, but concerns over outbreaks in the greater Lisbon area mean the advice remains that anyone visiting Portugal must quarantine for 14 days upon return.

Portugal's Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva tweeted that the UK's decision is 'neither substantiated nor backed by the facts'.

Algarve Resident newswire reported the minister told the Portuguese parliament: "There is no known or even public facts and data [to justify the decision]."

He said: "So far… [the UK government] has not been capable of explaining the political or technical reasons for its decision."

He added he'd held discussions with UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab in which 'the Portuguese government demonstrated that the national situation was very positive'.

From Tuesday 28 July 2020, Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia, Slovenia and St Vincent & the Grenadines have been added to the list.

However, all travellers, including those from exempt destinations, will still be required to complete a passenger locator form on arrival into the UK.

Spain remains on the list. However, there are concerns a rise in Covid-19 outbreaks that have led to local lockdowns could see it removed.

On Friday afternoon, the French government advised citizens against travelling to Catalonia because of a fresh wave of infections. Norway has reimposed a 10-day quarantine on international arrivals from Spain, effective Saturday.

From today, Friday July 24, more destinations, including Sri Lanka, Cuba, Cambodia, Fiji and Curacao, have been added to a separate list of countries where the Foreign Office no longer advises against all but essential travel.

Rory Boland, Editor of Which? Travel, said: "With the school summer holidays underway, news that Portugal is not being added to the government's travel corridor list could mean cancelled trips for thousands of holidaymakers - many of whom are due to leave in the coming days. 

"Many people may want to support their holiday company by accepting a refund credit note or rebooking for a later date, but it's important operators make clear any drawbacks, including a potential price increase when moving a holiday to 2021.

"Customers have the legal right to a cash refund if their package holiday is cancelled, but several tour operators continue to refuse and delay payments. This must stop, not least of all because many families will want to rebook a trip somewhere else during the summer holidays."

By Lisa James, Deputy Editor (UK)

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