U.K. Restores Quarantines for Travelers From Portugal
The authorities cited rising Covid-19 cases in Portugal and concern over coronavirus variants.
Travelers returning to the U.K. from Portugal must quarantine starting Tuesday, officials say.
Tourists at the Santa Luzia Viewpoint in Lisbon last week.Credit…Ana Brigida for The New York Times
Travelers returning to Britain from Portugal and its island territories of Madeira and the Azores will no longer be able to avoid quarantining as of Tuesday, British officials said on Thursday, complicating the plans of people hoping for easy getaways this summer.
Last month, Britain had put Portugal and 12 other countries and territories with low coronavirus caseloads on a “green list,” allowing visitors coming from Britain to avoid a quarantine period upon returning from those locations.
Britons fatigued by a miserable winter and a four-month national lockdown had begun flocking to Portugal, because most of the other green-listed places were either not accepting tourists or were not already favored destinations. The process still involved several forms and P.C.R. virus tests, whose costs can total hundreds of dollars.
The decision to move the country off the green list was a “safety first approach” Grant Shapps, Britain’s transportation secretary, told the BBC on Thursday.
Portugal had remained on Britain’s green list even as the rate of positive coronavirus cases there rose 37 percent over the past two weeks. British fans poured into the city of Porto to see two of England’s top soccer teams, Chelsea and Manchester United, face off in the Champions League final last Saturday. (Chelsea won.)
Portugal has seen the spread of the virus variant first identified in India, now known as Delta, Mr. Shapps said in a public statement released on Thursday.
Officials did not add any new countries to the green list — a decision that also dealt a blow to Spain, particularly for its two tourism-dependent archipelagos, the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands, which had seen improvement in their virus numbers. British travelers are the largest international contingent of visitors to Spain, accounting for 18 million of the almost 84 million who came to the country in 2019, before the pandemic.
The announcements caused disappointment for British visitors who had booked trips already or hoped that wider travel in Europe was on the rebound. It also caused dismay for the travel industry, which has been hit hard by the pandemic.
In Portugal, vendors had been excited to welcome back tourists, although some in the country had grumbled about foreign visitors not following local restrictions, which include mask wearing outdoors and a 10:30 p.m. curfew.
The move by British officials comes as cases remain generally low in Britain, though officials have been working to contain surges of the Delta variant.