Cambs couple’s nightmare to get home from Portugal after travel review

A couple from Cambridge went through “extreme stress” to get home from their holiday in Portugal after the announcement the country would be moved to the amber travel list.

All British people who had travelled to the country were told they must return to the UK before 4am on Tuesday (June 8) or face having to self isolate for 10 days at home when they got back.

This is because just 17 days after lifting the international travel ban, where Portugal was deemed one of the only safe holiday destinations, the UK Government demoted the country onto the amber travel list.

Alan and Lisa Pechey, from Cambridge, were two of the hundreds of British people who have rushed to get back from Portugal after starting their holiday in Lisbon last Monday (June 7).

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And while travel companies have put on extra flights for Brits needing to get home, they have also hiked up the prices, with the Pechey’s each paying £400 for their flight back to Gatwick Airport on Monday.

The couple were among thousands of UK tourists who were left scrambling to leave Portugal before new coronavirus quarantine rules come into force tomorrow morning.

The countries move to the amber list angered many holidaymakers and travel firms, as it came just over two weeks after the initial ban on international leisure travel was lifted.

Mrs Pechey, 66, told the PA news agency: “It was really expensive and I think the Government was totally unfair to throw that at us on Thursday (June 3) because it really spoiled our holiday, totally.

“We had flown out on Monday for a relaxing break, but from Thursday onwards we were under extreme stress.

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“My main problem was the stress because we didn’t want to quarantine.

“I was pretty furious because they should have told us to watch out if we were going to Portugal so everyone would have known.”

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

It stated that the positivity rate for coronavirus tests in Portugal had nearly doubled since the travel lists were first created four weeks earlier.

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

Passengers on board the Broitish Airways flight from Heathrow to Lisbon, Portugal on May 17
Passengers on board the Broitish Airways flight from Heathrow to Lisbon, Portugal on May 17
(Image: Julia Saqui/PA Wire)

Separate Test and Trace figures show 200 arrivals from Portugal were tested between May 6 and May 19.

Three of those people tested positive for coronavirus.

Thousands have likely booked holidays to Portugal as it was one of the few holiday destinations approved for travel by the British Government, with other countries on the list including Australia and New Zealand which has closed its borders to travellers, and the Falkland Islands which has almost no commercial flights currently.

The update to the travel lists means that British people are advised against travelling to the country, and must isolate at home for 10 days on their return.

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