Passengers on the last flights back to the UK from Portugal last night said they felt ‘ashamed to be British’ as thousands scrambled back from the Algarve to avoid having to endure a 10-day quarantine.
Cabinet ministers abruptly demoted the European country from green to amber status on its travel list last Thursday, destroying the holiday plans of millions and putting British families out of pocket.
Yesterday thousands of Britons jettisoned their holidays in the Algarve, the Portuguese capital Lisbon and the Portuguese island of Madeira, and joined the frenzied scramble for flights back to the UK ahead of 4am, at which point Portugal was added to the amber list of nations. Commercial flights from the mainland and Madeira landed at London Heathrow Airport, Gatwick Airport in West Sussex and Manchester Airport all day yesterday, while the final commercial flight back appeared to be a WizzAir plane from Faro to Doncaster Sheffield Airport which landed at 3am.
From this morning, UK arrivals from Portugal must have proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken no more than three days before their flight or face a £500 fine. They are also required to book and pay for two PCR tests pre-departure and take both tests on day 2 and day 8 of their 10-day home quarantine.
Breaking self-isolation could lead to a £10,000 fine, while those who do not take the day 2 and day 8 tests could be fined £2,000 and those who provide incorrect information on their passenger locator forms could be handed a £10,000 penalty or a 10-year jail sentence – or both. Holidaymakers revealed they have been forced to spend thousands of pounds extra to buy PCR tests – at £125 each – and last flights as plane ticket prices rose markedly. A seat on one Ryanair flight from Faro to Bournemouth was available for £285, nearly 17 times the £17 cost of a similar flight on Wednesday. A seat on one easyJet flight was going for £227, compared with one today for £53.
Bob Wallis, who landed in the East Midlands from Portugal last night, said the Government’s abrupt decision left him feeling ‘ashamed to be British’ and called four days’ notice ‘ridiculous’.