'Nightmare': Brits rush back home as Portugal is added to amber list

7 June 2021, 11:06 | Updated: 8 June 2021, 09:09

Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

Thousands of Brits scrambled for flights home from Portugal as the country was added to the UK's amber list on Tuesday.

Passengers from some of the 39 flights arriving from Faro Airport on Monday landed back in the UK, describing their experiences as a "nightmare".

One holidaymaker, Gareth, told LBC he had only just arrived at his hotel in the Algarve last week when he saw Portugal was set to move to the amber list from 4am on Tuesday - days before his flight home.

EXPLAINED: Why has Portugal been taken off the green list? What happens if I booked a holiday?

He said: "We did all the necessary precautions before we went - we booked the flights a week ago, we didn't book the hotel until we had the Covid test.

"We flew out on Thursday, we landed, got to the hotel, laid down on the sunbed - it goes amber."

From 4am on Tuesday, Brits visiting Portugal only need to prove they are Covid negative by taking a test before and after flying to the UK but new restrictions include a requirement to quarantine for 10 days at home.

WATCH: Nick Ferrari grills Cabinet Minister over confusing travel rules

On Tuesday, Environment Secretary George Eustice acknowledged it has been "highly inconvenient" for British tourists in Portugal.

Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari the Cabinet Minister said "there was notice" for travellers and reminded listeners that people can travel to countries on the green list.

Many travellers were left struggling to book the last flights home before the new rules were introduced as tickets sold out or were being sold at hugely inflated prices.

"We immediately scrambled to get flights," Gareth added, "then as we were booking on the app, the price of EasyJet flights are going up and up by the second."

Ryanair was found to be charging £285 for a flight from Faro to Bournemouth on Monday which was just £17 on Wednesday last week, while EasyJet seats from Faro to Gatwick were priced at around £300 compared to roughly £50 last Tuesday.

READ MORE: France to allow vaccinated Brits to arrive without quarantining from next week

EasyJet were selling tickets to Brits in Portugal at hugely-inflated prices as the last flights sold out
EasyJet were selling tickets to Brits in Portugal at hugely-inflated prices as the last flights sold out. Picture: PA Images

Another passenger, Alo, told LBC that many people missed their flights from Faro airport due to delays with the Covid passenger locator forms.

"It was just crazy and there were loads of people who missed their flight just because of the passenger locator form," he said.

"It could be easier - I'm not sure why it so complicated like that."

The UK Government made its controversial decision to remove Portugal from the green list after data last week showed the positivity rate for Covid tests in the country had nearly doubled since the travel lists were first introduced.

But many holidaymakers and travel firms expressed anger when the announcement was made last Thursday - just 17 days after the ban on international holiday travel was lifted.

READ MORE: Longtime Tory voter abandons party over Covid travel restrictions

Ministers are uneasy at the possibility of new variants being imported into the UK from abroad, with the new Delta variant thought to have been brought into the UK via flights from India.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said the situation in the country "required swift action to protect the gains made with the vaccine rollout".

The DfT added that 68 cases of the Indian mutation, which is also known as the Delta variant, have been identified in Portugal so far.