Portugal has finally been ruled safe for travel by the government, with airlines and holiday companies expecting a surge in bookings from Britons desperate for a late summer getaway.
Additional departures to the Algarve are likely over the next week, just in time for the August bank holiday weekend, after the decision to take Portugal off a list of “high-risk” countries.
The country is one of the leading destinations for British holidaymakers, traditionally attracting 2.1 million each year, although it has been off limits since the lockdown started.
Last night the Foreign Office changed its travel advice, approving non-essential journeys from Britain for the first time since March. Quarantine restrictions, which have been in place for arrivals from the Portuguese mainland and islands since early June, will be scrapped from 4am tomorrow.
The number of coronavirus cases in Portugal has dropped by 45 per cent over the past month, with 1,478 recorded in the past seven days compared with 2,689 in mid-July. Portugal had 14.4 cases per 100,000 people over the past week, well below the government’s quarantine threshold of 20 cases.
The move represents a welcome boost for UK holidaymakers who have been hit by the imposition of new travel restrictions on both Spain and France — the two most popular countries for Britons abroad — over the past month.
The government confirmed that holidays in Greece and Turkey would be allowed to continue despite a rise in cases. It placed new restrictions on travellers returning from Croatia, requiring any of the 20,000 Britons in the country who fail to get back by 4am tomorrow to self-isolate.
An average of 18 flights a day leave the country for the UK until the end of September, departing from Split, Dubrovnik and Pula. Airlines have capacity for an average of just over 3,000 seats a day. Many Britons may find it difficult to return in time, although some may be able to fly via Italy.
The move follows a 144 per cent rise in coronavirus cases over the past week, with 30 cases per 100,000 people in seven days.
Austria and Trinidad and Tobago were also added to the UK quarantine list while people arriving into Scotland from Switzerland will be forced to isolate for a fortnight.
Travel experts said that the decision to lift travel restrictions on Portugal would trigger a huge rush in demand for flights, particularly to the southern Algarve region.
It is likely that many airlines — currently operating an average of 65 flights a day to Portugal airports (Lisbon airport LIS , Porto Airport, Faro Airport) — will be able to introduce extra departures in time for the bank holiday weekend at the end of August and throughout September and October.
Figures from Cirium, the aviation data company, show that 719 flights are scheduled until the end of this month. They will allow 128,000 Britons to fly to the country via carriers including British Airways, EasyJet, Ryanair, Jet2, and Wizz Air.
© source: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/portugal-dropped-from-uk-quarantine-list-zlbcptpwf