Holidays to Portugal and Greece safe and stay OFF England's quarantine list for at least a week – but Wales adds nations
HOLIDAYS to Portugal and Greece are safe for at least a week after the Government tonight left them off England's quarantine list.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced tonight English tourists are still able to travel back and fourth without restrictions.
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But Wales this evening added mainland Portugal and six Greek islands onto its quarantine list.
It comes after many holidaymakers booked flights home costing up to £554 to avoid having to quarantine amid fears they would be added to the travel list this weekend.
Cases in Portugal hit 23 cases per 100,000 people on Wednesday – exceeding the benchmark of 20 that has triggered other countries to be added to the quarantine list.
But Transport Secretary Grant Shapps defied expectations to make no changes to the current travel rules.
The rules are different in Scotland, where arrivals must quarantine for a fortnight after Nicola Sturgeon put the country back on the list earlier this week.
And to add more confusion, Wales added mainland Portugal and six Greek islands to its quarantine list from 4am tomorrow.
Tourists returning to Wales from Mykonos, Zakynthos, Lesvos, Paros and Antiparos and Crete will have to quarantine.
Announcing the decision not to make any changes to the rules, Mr Shapps tweeted: "We continue to keep the Travel Corridor list under constant review & won't hesitate to remove countries if needed.
"However, there are no English additions or removals today.
"Nonetheless, holidaymakers are reminded – 14-day quarantine countries can & do change at very short notice".
He added: "Travel Corridor factors taken into account by JBC & Ministers inc: COVID-19 prevalence; level & rate of change; extent of in-country tests, regime & test positivity; extent of contained outbreak as opposed to general transmission; govt actions & other epidemiological information."
Brits sunning themselves in Portugal took to Twitter to rejoice at the news tonight.
Kunta Smith tweeted a photo of his hotel pool from his sun lounger saying: "Cheers Grant."
Melani Berman tweeted: "Thanks for leaving Portugal alone, long may it last… I need my holiday in the LOW risk Algarve at the end of the month, booked last year. Infection rates in the Algarve acknowledged to be very low."
However, other Brits were furious after they booked flights home for today amid the speculation that Portugal was to be removed from the travel corridor.
One Twitter user wrote: "Mate just landed at Gatwick paid £550. Was due back Saturday his kids all in tears as they cut short the holiday."
A holidaymaker who spent nearly £1,000 changing her family's flights home from the Algarve to avoid having to quarantine has accused the Government of "moving the goalposts left, right and centre" after Portugal remained on the exempt list.
Kelly Jones, from Birmingham, said she paid Jet2 £900 to move her flights home from Faro from Saturday to Friday in anticipation of quarantine measures being reintroduced, to ensure her three children would not miss out on two weeks of school.
Mrs Jones, 45, said the situation was "absolutely disgusting" and said: "It's cost us a lot more money and it's money we didn't need to spend now.
"We've lost an extra night in our villa – we won't get that back – we've got a hire car, so we're taking that back a day early. It's the knock-on effects as well."
But former PM Tony Blair warned that the uncertainty over quarantine rules was "killing" international travel.
Calling for the blanket 14-day quarantine rules to be ditched, he told BBC Two's Newsnight: “I don’t think it’s necessary to do 14 day quarantine when you come back into the country. That is if you want literally zero risk.”
This comes as Scotland is set to add Portugal to its quarantine list this weekend, according to BBC Scotland.
This means that travellers arriving into Scotland from Portugal will potentially have to isolate for 14 days.
Meanwhile, Health Secretary Matt Hancock poured cold water on the prospect of ever introducing coronavirus testing at airports – declaring: "It doesn't work".
He dismissed calls for airport arrivals to be tested when they land, saying that only 7 per cent of people with positive cases would be caught.
People still need to quarantine for 14 days to make sure they aren't carrying the bug and passing it on as it incubates inside the body for so long, he stressed.
He told BBC Breakfast: "There's a really good reason we don't do that.
"That is that the virus incubates in you and therefore if you test on day one on return, the scientists reckon you find only about seven per cent of the total cases.
"You still have to quarantine. It doesn't clinically work."
He added: "In fact, the countries around the world that have introduced these tests on arrival are now moving away from it and doing the testing much later."
Heathrow has already unveiled a coronavirus testing centre that could cut the quarantine down – but ministers have yet to back the policy.
It was reported last month that the Government were looking at a dual testing scheme which would test some on arrival and then the rest several days into their isolation.
It would be able to tell if they'd picked up the bug and had to isolate further, or they were negative and could be released from quarantine.
But ministers have yet to make an announcement and have repeatedly talked down the idea.
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