Provocative Britons still fly to Portugal despite the country’s orange listing
The provocative Britons still flock to Portugal en masse, just as many others are scrambling to return to Britain before the country “turns amber”.
Last night, Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps’ announcement that the country would be reclassified kicked off those who are currently in the holiday hotspot and are desperate to avoid self-isolation.
Ticket prices for flights to the UK have skyrocketed and huge queues of Britons desperate to get tested formed as Tuesday’s deadline to return home without having to sit down in quarantine began to emerge.
Amid all the hustle and bustle and logistical wrangling in Portugal, some people were still packing their bags ready to fly the other way.
A couple, Lynn, 62, and Mark, 65, were late after deciding to catch their flights to the Portuguese island of Madeira at the last minute.
Their trip was compromised last night, but they chose to take the TUI flight to Funchal, the capital of Madeira, so they could still see their daughter there.
Lynn, who is from the south of England, said: “It was a last minute decision and we are late.
“I didn’t sleep at all last night. We weren’t going to come when Portugal was added to the Amber list but it was too late to do anything.
“Our trip was to last two weeks. I called Tui all morning.
“It was a complete nightmare and we also got stuck in traffic on our way to the airport.”
Some have expressed frustration that TUI will not reimburse them for their flights, despite Amber List requirements adding hundreds of pounds to the cost of their trips.
Irina Kosovets, 33, and her husband, Andrew Kosevets, 34, were on a week-long vacation on the Portuguese island of Madeira.
The couple, who both work in IT, were at Gatwick Airport to catch the TUI flight to Funchal, the capital of Madeira.
Mr Kosevets, a computer scientist from Tower Hamlets in east London, said: ‘We now have to quarantine – it’s boring but it’s not the end of the world so we’ll survive.
“We’ll have to pay for the additional testing and that’s the only real problem. “
Ross Barker, 36, was at Gatwick airport to fly to the Portuguese city of Funchal with his partner.
The couple had left for Madeira Island for a month-long vacation.
The Cambridge business owner said: “I’m glad we’ve been gone a month now that the rules have changed. It gives us plenty of time to relax and enjoy our time there. “
Benn Wallace, 39, and his wife Nikki Warren, 38, were also flying to the Portuguese island of Madeira for the weekend to celebrate their 16th wedding anniversary.
The couple booked flights with Tui to Funchal, the capital of Madeira, in May and were relieved to return to the UK on Monday before Portugal was added to the Amber list the next day.
Benn, from Stevenage, Herefordshire, said: “We booked the flights three weeks ago when Portugal was on the green list.
“We are taking precautions and doing three tests. We bought a test before we left, one for our arrival and one for our return. It was £ 60 for all three tests for both of us.
“I have no problem with putting Portugal on the orange list, but I think they should have given people more notice.
“I can’t wait to relax, eat and drink – it’s our 16th wedding anniversary. It was yesterday [June 3] but we are celebrating this weekend.
In Portugal, people like Simon Smith of Stamford in Lincolnshire are currently facing an agonizing wait for testing.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today program: “A bit of a scramble I’m afraid.
“We are trying to organize tests, but obviously the government released the information yesterday and it was a public holiday in Portugal which did not help.
“We have booked flights for Saturday at 10 am, but local medics tell us it can take up to three or four days to wait for testing, so we can fly.”
Public relations consultant Heather Peebles went for a test this morning before her flight back to Scotland from the Algarve tomorrow to find a huge queue in front of her.
“Probably around 150 people there,” she told the Mirror.
“I arrived at 10am and just passed my test. Quite chaotic and the lab had been broken into this morning which didn’t help …”
Property developer Simon Smith from Stamford, Lincolnshire, is currently in the Lagos area with his wife and two young children.
He hopes they can return home on Saturday, earlier than expected, but they were unable to get tested despite visiting five medical centers and the region’s main hospital.
He was turned away from a center after running out of test kits.
“There were about 35 people in the queue, all British, and they said to us: ‘the first 15 are fine, but the rest of you might as well go home because we don’t have enough of tests, ”he told PA.
The family have been told the airport has a small amount of Covid testing, so plan to show up for their flight five hours early in hopes of getting one.
“If we can’t get this, we can’t fly,” he said. “I have meetings on Friday, I can’t afford a 10 day quarantine, that’s a joke.”
Friends Esther-Leah Cohen, Judy Liebert, Tamar Smith and Ellie Sharer arrived at Stansted airport earlier today after a girls’ vacation in Porto.
The 21-year-old students were fortunate not to have to rush, but said their Airbnb host was hit by a series of cancellations from the Brits.
Judy told The Sun, “They’re pretty upset about this; I think they thought it was back to normal now.
“They really think it’s unfair because there are so few cases out there, he thinks there are 50 now.
“They wear masks there, we have been reprimanded several times. “
The huge increase in demand for flights caused prices to spike in the past day.
A seat on a Ryanair flight from the capital Lisbon to Manchester costs £ 339 on Monday, while travel on the same route is available for just £ 75 on Wednesday.
British Airways charges £ 348 for flights from Faro to London Heathrow on Sunday and Monday, but the price drops to £ 137 on Tuesday.
The airline said it would operate more flights to meet demand from people returning home.
TUI, the UK’s largest tour operator, said it had 9,500 customers in Portugal, but that figure is already expected to drop to 2,000 on Tuesday due to the end of the semester for schoolchildren.
A spokeswoman told the PA news agency that half of her clients who booked in Portugal for June have changed their trip – mostly until summer 2022 – while the other half plan to continue despite quarantine rules.
“There is a lot of real bewilderment and frustration and confusion about what’s going on,” she added.