Every person travelling from Britain by air, land or sea to mainland Portugal will now be required to quarantine for two weeks at either their home or a location which has been chosen by the local health authorities. The only way that visitors from the United Kingdom can be exempt from this new quarantine period is to present evidence that shows they have been fully vaccinated at least two weeks prior to them arriving in Portugal.
Portugal is already on the UK government’s amber travel list, meaning passengers would have needed to isolate for 10 days once they had returned to Britain anyway. However, the prospect of having to isolate for 14 days when they arrive in Portugal will likely cause untold havoc for many holidaymakers.
Today alone, there are 18 UK flights landing at Faro Airport in the Algarve, with many passengers unaware of the fact that they will now need to quarantine for two weeks. Even those that have received two doses of a vaccine may not have the relevant evidence that would excuse them from having to self-isolate.
The introduction of more stringent rules for Britons arriving in Portugal comes as a result of a rapid rise in cases of the Delta variant which was first detected in India a few months ago. The variant is the dominant strain in the UK and now accounts for more than half of all infections in Portugal as well.
The rules which come into force from today, and will reportedly last until at least July 11, do not apply to children who are under the age of 12. The Portuguese government has stated that the decision to place the UK in the high-risk category “can be revised at any time, depending on the evolution of the epidemiological situation”. The new laws will not apply to Madeira, which had recently been placed on the UK’s green list.
The haste at which the Portuguese Government has acted to impose this new law has not also lead to an uproar in the UK, but also from within Portugal where the restaurant and leisure industry has been crying out for UK tourism, which has taken hits from both the British and Portuguese side now.
This law has also received criticism for lacking clarity over the wording of it, with the main concern coming around the fate of 13 to 17 year-olds. The law states that anyone who is not fully vaccinated has to quarantine upon arrival, however, there is an exemption for under 12s which are classed as 'children' in the wording. So, what are the rules for people under 18 but over 12 who, currently in the UK, are ineligible for vaccination? Will they have to quarantine regardless? Some more clarity around this is definitely needed.
There are increasing concerns that much of the EU will follow suit and, like Portugal, impose stricter quarantine measures on British travellers with Angela Merkel rumoured to want to ban Brits from travelling to any EU member state regardless of whether or not they have had a vaccine.
“The news coming out this morning about the changes to travel restrictions to and from Portugal highlights just how much this pandemic is still effecting the travel industry. Most people traveling to Portugal today won’t have been informed about these overnight changes until they have already made their journey. We cannot stress enough how important it is to continuously check the relevant travel information before you travel and ensure you are covered for all eventualities.”