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Published on Thursday, August 20, 2020

Portugal added to travel corridor but Croatia and Austria removed

Portugal has been added to the UK's travel corridor but Croatia, Austria and Trinidad and Tobago have been removed, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said.

Travellers arriving back from the three destinations after 4am on Saturday will need to quarantine for 14 days.

Portugal meanwhile has seen a sufficient decline in Covid cases to be added to the corridor, meaning the travel restrictions will be lifted.

There was widespread anger when Portugal was omitted from the government's safe list in early July.

But the country's number of cases dropped in the past week to 14.38 cases per 100,000 people, compared to 15 per 100,000 the week before.

It has not been over 20 per 100,000 since mid July.

Jet2 has previously said it will resume services to Portugal on August 24. 

National Portuguese Tourism Board President Luis Araújo said he was 'delighted'.

But he took a veiled swipe at UK authorities for leaving the country off its safe list in the first place.

"For quite some time now tourism and government officials have consistently maintained our unwavering confidence in the safety of Portugal," he said. 

"We are now delighted to have arrived at a decision which we feel far better reflects the reality of the situation in Portugal."

He said the confidence stemmed from a 'thoroughly efficient and effective multi-sector strategy' to contain the virus as early as possible and the 'implementation of concise measures… prepare the tourism sector for a safe reopening'.

Despite the travel restrictions, he said Portugal has been welcoming guests from the UK since the beginning of July.

"This was not a country just opening its doors after battling the worst of the pandemic but the case of a destination which has been operating with the capacity for international visitors for some time now following effective early action in the battle against the virus," he said.

"We have tourists in Portugal already who are enjoying themselves safely and responsibly.

"Portugal has open borders, open tourism activities, and is ready to welcome tourists in all regions, now without the need for a mandatory quarantine upon return to the United Kingdom.

Portugal is expecting 60% of air routes to be operating in September.

Rory Boland, Editor of Which? Travel, said: "The government has now made it clear that countries can be removed or added from the travel corridor list at a moment's notice. That policy currently makes it too risky for anyone who is not able to quarantine for 14-days on return to travel anywhere abroad.

"Yet, those holidaymakers who want to heed the government warning to not undertake non-essential travel to Spain, France and now Croatia and Austria are finding it increasingly difficult to claim a refund. Many airlines continue to operate flights and refuse customers the option of a refund, then charge eye-watering fees to those who try to rebook."

By Steve Jones, Contributing Editor

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