Tens of thousands of British tourists are hastily leaving Portugal, interrupting their vacations, hours before the country is formally excluded from Boris Johnson’s government’s “green list”.
The British crowded the airport of Faro today, in the capital of the Algarve – their main Portuguese destination – to return to their cities of origin before the early hours of Tuesday, when the sanction to Portugal comes into force, which in practice would force them to keep ten days of quarantine at home on their return.
Several airlines have arranged additional flights from Portuguese locations, at generally higher prices, in order to meet the demand of the multitude of people who want to be in British territory before the measures ordered by the London Government on June 3 are applied on Tuesday.
More than 25,000 British tourists left the Algarve over the weekend and thousands more will do so in the coming hours, in one of the 40 flights scheduled today in Faro to the United Kingdom, twice as many as usual.
The laboratories in the region are also overwhelmed by the demand for PCR tests and, faced with the impossibility of getting an appointment in time, hundreds of Britons have opted to undergo the test at the airport, collapsing the facilities.
Johnson’s decision to remove Portugal from his “green list” has fallen like a bucket of cold water on Portugal, which was hoping to recover tourism activity, especially in the Algarve, thanks to the British market. It also did so in Spain, which has also failed to enter this “green list” and has opted to open up to tourists vaccinated 14 days earlier to avoid the economic downturn.
Air fares linking the Algarve to the United Kingdom have soared in the last few hours and plummet from Wednesday. Hotel rates in the Algarve will also drop significantly from today compared to the prices announced for these dates.
Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa criticized on Sunday the “instability” of the British system, which updates destinations every three weeks. “We cannot have this system of instability that there are changes every three weeks, it is not good neither for those who plan their vacations nor for those who have to organize the tourism industry.”
For the Portuguese Executive, “the measure is not justified” and causes “serious damage, both to the British, who at the moment cannot leave without being subject to quarantine anywhere in Europe, and the damage it causes to the national economy”.
The United Kingdom, for its part, is trying to prevent a third wave of the pandemic from starting, after registering an increase in infections driven by the Delta variant initially identified in India, and which, according to some experts, could be up to 60% more contagious than the Alpha variant, the British one. According to data from Sunday, this country counted 5,341 new positive cases of the virus in 24 hours, 49% more than a week ago, with four deaths, a decrease of 1.7%.
Since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, it has recorded 4.51 million infections and 127,840 deaths, while 27.6 million people have already received two doses of the vaccine.