Every indication is that many are ignoring Boris and are determined to still have their summer break in Portugal despite what Boris says. Since Portugal was taken off the green list, Faro airport is receiving around 15 to 20 flights a day from throughout the UK. Many visitors from the UK are saying they won’t take self-isolation for ten days seriously when they return home. They won’t allow Boris to rob them of their holiday in the sun.
Portugal’s tourism chiefs are not just protesting to the UK Government but also taking practical steps to make travel to Portugal easier. From the beginning of this week, UK travellers no longer need to present a PCR test on arrival to Portugal. Visitors can now use a lateral flow test to enter - which is free of charge.
The Portugal News contacted every UK MP protesting what the government has done to Portugal, and we are receiving positive responses. Chris Grayling MP replied, “Thank you for your message. Just to reassure you that many colleagues and I are pushing hard to get the restrictions lifted and were very unhappy about last week’s announcement”.
Sammy Wilson MP replied to us, “This is a matter of grave concern to me and indeed I raised this issue with the Health Minister in Parliament only this week. I was not very happy with his response and I suspect that the real reason why Portugal was removed was nothing to do with health and all to do with politics around coronavirus policies.
“I note that only 1.5% of people returning from Portugal actually tested positive, that the rate of infections per 100,000 is lower in Portugal than it is in the UK and yet your country is deemed to be a country which presents a risk. I do not think that there is any medical reasons for removing Portugal from the green list and I suspect that this has all to do with the Government’s policy of trying to stop people from travelling at all. I think that they had hoped that the cost of tests etc would dissuade people from travelling abroad for their holidays when they found how popular Portugal was once it was placed on the green list and I am fairly certain they were concerned that this would lead to demands for other countries being opened as well. The one way of killing off any future demand for holidays abroad was to disrupt people’s holidays in the way that they have done, but unfortunately of course it has huge implications for Portugal and for the tourist industry there.
My view is that we now have got to grips with this virus and restrictions should be lifted so that people can lead their normal lives and enjoy travel abroad as they had been doing for many years before the coronavirus epidemic. I hope this explains my position”.
There is no shortage of gossip around Westminster, one website reported “Robert Jenrick was the cabinet minister shoved in front of cameras last Friday to explain the government's decision to remove Portugal from the green list and plonk it on the amber list. The move wouldn't be immediate, he explained, so holidaymakers already in Portugal who wanted to return easily had a chance to do so – giving them four days to make their arrangements and get back in an 'orderly manner'.
Why the Tuesday morning cut-off? And why was this deadline of any interest to the Secretary of State for Housing? Could it have anything to do with the talk around Westminster that Jenrick's own family had taken a little half-term holiday to Portugal themselves?”
This can’t be substantiated, but it does show that Boris is not seeing much, if any, support for removing Portugal from the ‘green list’.
From July 1, fully vaccinated EU tourists will be able to travel restriction-free. With the new EU vaccine passport, residents will avoid tests and quarantines if they have been fully vaccinated for 14 days or more.
Some popular vacation destinations are already relaxing the rules, destinations like Spain, France, Cyprus or Greece are allowing fully vaccinated Britons to enter without restrictions.
This week the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps urged patience to people hoping to travel on holiday to European countries. He revealed the green list for foreign holidays could be expanded very soon. Mr Shapps told the Financial Times: “I don’t think people have a very long time to wait before other countries are able to join the green list.” Don’t hold your breath!
The Delta variant of Covid-19 is growing exponentially in England and Boris seems to want to find countries to blame, but many commentators in the UK claim that if Boris had acted more quickly to put India in the red zone this could have been contained. Why didn’t he? Is this related to the fact that he wanted to travel to India to try and close a major trade deal. It took him several days to finally agree not to go to India and to put it on the red list. Those were critical days.
Boris seems to change his mind on a lot of things, sadly, the only thing he may be slow to change his mind on is putting Portugal back on the ‘green light’ list, no doubt not least as he would have to allow other safe destinations back on the list as well, and that doesn’t suit his current agenda to try and stop people taking holidays outside the UK. I discovered yesterday that this is coming at a high price for the UK. I heard from a business colleague who lives in Cornwall, he emailed me yesterday “Gazumping is rife, not only on house sales but also on holiday lettings…you may think you’ve booked your holiday cottage but if someone else comes along with more cash then…” We don’t do that to visitors to Portugal!
Following the announcement on Monday of the delay in the end of the lockdown, Tuesdays front page on The Telegraph, (known in the trade as the in-house magazine of the tory party) said “It’s definitely July 19…unless it’s not”. That’s from a Boris supporting newspaper, Says it all.
Keep writing to your MP’s, every evidence suggests a lot of them are very supportive of Portugal.
Click here to read about how to lobby your MP to get Portugal back on the green list.