Portugal: Holidaymaker says rule change has caused ‘stress’
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Portugal’s main airport Faro has been a scene of chaos and crowding in recent days and Britons desperately try to obtain testing and flights to get home before Tuesday’s quarantine rule comes into force. However, the stress has become so much for some travellers they have slammed the Government for making their lives “a misery”.
Though the Government had said it would try and give some warning for passengers if a nation was to go onto the “green watch list”, the Prime Minister added that he would “not hesitate” to make sudden changes if necessary.
Alan Richards, currently on holiday in Portugal with his family, slammed this rapid change from green to amber.
“Thanks very much for making my life a misery and making what should have been a holiday for the family and a long-awaited one,” he told BBC News.
“Yes, we do accept that things change, but you need to give people time to get home.
“This four or five days or whatever it was has not been enough time for tens of thousands of people who, by the way, followed his guidance and went to a green listed country.”
Similarly, Craig Stanley, who had jetted off on a re-arranged holiday with his wife, said the nation’s green list status meant they were unable to rebook their travel plans for a later date.
“We’re very frustrated obviously because this already was a holiday we had planned last year but we rearranged for this year,” he said.
“Because Portugal was on the green list we had to go, we couldn’t rearrange it.
“So we thought we were good to go. The Government promised to give notification of seven days.
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“We were only coming for a week so we thought everything would be fine. Then on the second day we were here they moved the goalposts and suddenly there is a mass panic trying to find a flight and get tests and all the other things.
“We have just run out of time and flights and everything so we are very frustrated.“
In the race to return home, some travellers have reported being turned away from flights, despite having acquired all of the UK’s requested paperwork and having provided evidence of negative COVID-19 tests.
Mick Hurley from Manchester said: “We arrived to board our flight from Porto to Manchester.
“We had our tickets checked a couple of times and our information, our documents that we were required to bring along with us.
“When we were just about to board our flight, our final check the Ryanair staff said we did not have the right test information for our Covid status.
“They disembarked us and popped us out the other side of the airport and left us to it. We’ve spent the rest of the day with this queue behind us queuing for another type of Covid test.”
Holidaymakers have spoken out about overcrowding at airports, with more than 100,000 Britons expected to be in Portugal currently.
According to data from mobility research business Huq Industries, between May 17 – when Portugal became a green list country -until May 31, a total of 221,064 Britons travelled out to the country.
As of May 31, the number of Brits who had travelled back from Portugal stood at 108,887. That leaves the 112,177 currently stuck there.
Anastasia Odegov, who had been on a family holiday with her parents and younger brother, explained: “My brother has school as we managed to put him on a flight earlier but it was also quite stressful. My mum gets quite stressed because of her travelling by herself with my brother.
“She sent us a photo and there was such a huge line all until the entrance of the airport.
“Instead of the two hours that you usually go, it would be three and a half or four hours. Instead of a family holiday is now just me and my dad here.”
Upon the latest traffic light announcement, Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps defended the swift move as a “safety first” decision.
Mr Shapps told BBC News: “I want to be straight with people, it’s actually a difficult decision to make, but in the end, we’ve seen two things really which have caused concern.
“One is that the positivity rate has nearly doubled since the last review in Portugal, and the other is that there’s a Nepal mutation of the so-called Indian variants which has been detected.”
He continued: “We just don’t know the potential for that to be a vaccine defeating mutation and simply don’t want to take the risk, as we come up to June 21.”
In a statement, he added: “The public has always known travel will be different this year and we must continue to take a cautious approach to reopening international travel in a way that protects public health and the vaccine rollout.”
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