The cost of flights to Portugal have today surged by up to 25 per cent after it was confirmed the holiday hotspot will be on the travel ‘green list’ from May 17.
Among the 12-strong list was Portugal, which was widely tipped for the ‘green list’.
However, would-be travellers appear to have waited for confirmation before booking flights to the popular destination because in the minutes after the announcement tonight, flights to Lisbon soared by 25 per cent.
Holidaymakers could have paid £264 at 12pm today for a return ticket from London Heathrow to Lisbon, travelling on May 17 and May 24.
But in the minutes after Mr Shapps’ announcement prices skyrocketed by £68 – with holidaymakers forced to fork out £332 for the same flights.
Similar leaps were seen in the cost of flights to other ‘green list’ destinations, with a flight to Gibraltar jumping from £49 at 12pm today to £134 at 6pm, according to Skyscanner.net.
Carvoeiro village in Algarve, Portugal. Eager British holidaymakers rushed to book last minute getaways after the handful of quarantine-free destinations were unveiled by Grant Shapps at a Downing Street briefing tonight
In the minutes after Mr Shapps’ announcement prices skyrocketed by £55 – with holidaymakers forced to fork out £332 for the same flight that cost £264 at 12pm
And the price of a flight to TelAviv in Israel, £252 at 12pm today, rose by £38 after Mr Shapps’ announcement, to £290.
Daily bookings on Skyscanner in the UK for travel to Portugal have increased by 118 per cent since the start of May, a spokesman for the website revealed.
Martin Nolan, a Skyscanner Traveller expert, said: ‘This is such welcome news for our travellers who have been eager to get back out into the world. It is fantastic to see the advances destinations have made regarding traveller safety have enabled popular destinations such as Portugal and Gibraltar to be back on the agenda for summer.
‘Travellers will of course be delighted with the news of possible international travel, not just for holidays and leisure travel, but also for those who will now be able to travel to be reunited with loved ones abroad.
‘We have seen travellers willing to adapt to the new measures quickly and positively, as long as it means they can get away safely and within the guidelines, so we expect to see a busy weekend of bookings ahead.’
Tourists sunbathing in Praia do Camilo, Lagos, Faro district, Algarve, Portugal
Grant Shapps unveiled his long-awaited ‘green list’ at a Downing Street briefing tonight, insisting we must make ‘absolutely sure’ that the countries we reconnect with are ‘safe’
All the countries on the UK’s first green list have similarly low Covid infection rates, meaning the risk of travellers carrying cases between nations is low
British Airways said it would be laying on additional flights to Portugal following the announcement foreign travel can resume to some destinations later this month, but added it was disappointed with restrictions for amber countries.
Chairman and CEO Sean Doyle said: ‘We’re pleased that our customers are able to start travelling again to some countries, including Portugal, and we’ve put on additional flights from London, Manchester, Newcastle and Edinburgh to Faro to help people get moving.
‘What’s clear is that with high levels of vaccination in the UK being matched by other countries, we should see more destinations going ‘green’ before the end of June.
‘It’s disappointing to hear that despite the stringent safeguards introduced for travel from ‘amber list’ countries, the Government is now suggesting travellers avoid these.
The countries on the ‘green list’ from May 17 are: Portugal including the Azores and Madeira; Australia; New Zealand; Singapore; Brunei; Iceland; the Faroe Islands; Gibraltar; the Falkland Islands; and Israel
WILL THE GREEN LIST COUNTRIES ACTUALLY LET US IN?
These are the current entry requirements for countries that will be on the UK’s green list from May 17. They may change before Britain permits foreign travel.
Portugal – Closed except to residents and essential travel, but tourism chief Rita Marques said: ‘We are really pushing hard to open up to countries like the UK.’
Australia – Closed except to visa holders and residents/citizens, and government appears unwilling to reopen the borders.
New Zealand – Closed except to visa holders and residents/citizens, or people with a ‘critical purpose to travel’. Country was keen to shut borders and is not likely to encourage or allow tourism any time soon.
Israel/Jerusalem – Foreign nationals not permitted unless in exceptional circumstances, but plans in place to allow vaccinated people and recovered Covid patients to visit.
Gibraltar – Travel only allowed for residents, citizens or people going for work, but is expected to open the doors to tourists soon.
Singapore – Visitors must get prior government permission to travel. Tourists are allowed from Hong Kong, signalling possible reopening.
Brunei – ‘Severely restricted’. Travellers must apply for permission from Prime Minister’s office and exit travel is banned.
Iceland – Travel is allowed from low risk countries. Covid testing and quarantine in place except for fully vaccinated people.
Faroe Islands – Denmark allows UK visitors ‘with a worthy purpose’. Holidaying not included
Falkland Islands – Permits only allowed for essential visitors. Tourism board is pushing for a reopening but the government is not yet keen.
South Georgia – Rules unclear. It is a remote destination in the Atlantic Ocean, close to Antarctica, with no roads and no airport.
St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha – All arrivals must quarantine for 2 weeks. Only residents are allowed to travel to Tristan da Cunha.
Source: Foreign Office
‘We cannot stress more greatly that the UK urgently needs travel between it and other low-risk countries, like the US, to restart the economy, support devastated industries and reunite loved ones.’
While Britons are clear to travel to green list countries, amber destinations still require up to 10 days self isolation at home and red destinations require 10 days of isolation in a Government approved hotel at a cost of £1,750.
The green listed destinations announced tonight includes Gibraltar, Israel, Portugal, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.
Buy now pay later travel agency Butter found green tier destinations cost 35 per cent more than their red and amber counterparts.
Timothy Davis, Co-Founder and CEO of Butter, said: ‘Holidaymakers will now be climbing over each other to book a trip away to a green tier destination this summer, having not been able to take a proper holiday in quite some time.’
Mr Shapps tonight warned that ‘green list’ destinations will remain on a ‘watch list’ as he reserved the right to take them off again if there is a spike in local infections.
He added the plan was ‘necessarily cautious’, saying: ‘We must make sure that the countries we reconnect with are safe.’
The countries on the ‘green list’ from May 17 are: Portugal including the Azores and Madeira; Australia; New Zealand; Singapore; Brunei; Iceland; the Faroe Islands; Gibraltar; the Falkland Islands; and Israel.
But two of those countries, Australia and New Zealand, will not currently allow British visitors to enter.
There was a blow for football fans as Turkey was added to the red list just weeks before Manchester City and Chelsea battle out he Champions League final in Istanbul.
The Maldives and Nepal have also been added to the red list.
People returning from those countries after 4am on Wednesday will be required to stay in a quarantine hotel for 11 nights at a cost of £1,750 for solo travellers.
Mr Shapps tonight confirmed that France, Spain and Greece, three top holiday destinations for Britons, were not yet ready to make the ‘green list’ on the new traffic light system that is being introduced.
He added that travellers were ‘crucial’ to rebuilding the UK’s economy following months in lockdown.
‘We want a summer in which, with the help of vaccines and testing, we can reunite family and friends, and travel to places we love,’ he said. ‘We want to start looking outward again. Whilst Covid has isolated us, travel unites us.’
He added: ‘Travellers are, of course, also absolutely crucial to rebuilding our economy, bringing long-awaited relief to hard-hit airlines, airports, the tourism sector, which taxpayers have spent £7 billion in supporting.’
The DfT also announced that from May 17, people who have had both doses of a coronavirus vaccine will be able to use the NHS app to demonstrate their status.
People who do not have the app will be able to request an NHS letter from that date.
Mr Shapps said travellers should not book holidays that do not include a refund policy if the country’s Covid situation changes.
WHERE CAN I GO ON HOLIDAY FROM MAY 17? THE GREEN LIST
Britons will be able to travel quarantine-free to 12 countries and territories from May 17.
- Portugal, including the Azores and Madeira
- New Zealand
- Faroe Islands
- Falkland Islands
- South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
- Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
- Israel and Jerusalem
Mr Shapps tonight confirmed that France, Spain and Greece, three top holiday destinations for Britons, were not yet ready to make the ‘green list’ on the new traffic light system that is being introduced
Gibraltar, the British territory in the western Mediterranean, was on the green list
The Transport Secretary said: ‘Green list countries will be placed on a watch list.
‘If we start to have any concerns, and if it is necessary because of a new upswing in cases or a new variant, we will not hesitate to act fast and withdraw green status.’
He added: ‘Our strong advice is not to book any holiday which does not include a refund in the event that the Covid-related situation changes and you’re able to cancel.
‘I’m afraid we do expect longer delays at airports.’
Speaking tonight, Border Force director general Paul Lincoln warned that wait times to enter the UK were likely to take longer than usual as the country switches to a traffic light system for international travel.
He said: ‘Unfortunately we are not back to normality yet.
‘Travel will be different and, as the Transport Secretary says, we still need to be cautious.
‘There will continue to be additional health checks for every person crossing our border and inevitably that means it will take longer for most people to enter the UK.
‘These measures have been put in place to protect the hard-fought gains and sacrifices that have been made by individuals and society in the UK, minimising the risk of importing variants while protecting the success of our vaccine rollout.’
Heathrow Airport’s chief executive John Holland-Kaye said the Government must ‘urgently address the unacceptable situation’ at the UK border, adding: ‘Long immigration queues are an inevitable result of under-resourcing, not an inevitable result of extra checks.’
Despite the significant move forward in reopening the travel sector today, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) said many would be ‘hugely disappointed’ that the US and other nations are not on the Government’s travel ‘green list’.
President and CEO Gloria Guevera said: ‘We welcome this first initial step by the UK Government to begin opening the door to international travel with the announcement of today’s ‘traffic light’ system.
‘However, airlines and the wider travel and tourism sector will be hugely disappointed that the US, which has a similar vaccination success rate, has not been included on the ‘green list’ as it would have enabled the resumption of transatlantic travel, which would have thrown a vital lifeline to the sector in two of the biggest travel and tourism markets in the world.’
She added: ‘While we understand that protecting public health should be the priority, the UK is being too cautious and risks losing its hard-won competitive advantage achieved by the early vaccine rollout by being too slow to allow the significant resumption of international travel.
‘Holidaymakers and business travellers will be disappointed by today’s news, with so few countries on the ‘green list’, while Europe steals a march on the UK by continuing to open up and welcome visitors back.’
Border Force director general Paul Lincoln warned that wait times to enter the UK were likely to take longer than usual as the country switches to a traffic light system for international travel
British holidaymakers will also be able to head to New Zealand (above, Tongariro Alpine Crossing National Park). Although the country’s borders are currently closed
Iceland is also on the ‘green list’, with tourist attractions including Reykjavík and Siglufjordur (above)
Tristan da Cunha, a remote group of volcanic islands in the south Atlantic Ocean, is also available for summer holidays
Pilots’ union Balpa later accused Downing Street of an ‘excess of caution’ over its handling of the planned return of foreign holidays, which have been banned since January amid England’s third Covid lockdown.
General secretary Brian Strutton said: ‘This excess of caution from the Government is extremely disappointing for everyone who works in the travel sector and the millions of people who are desperate to jet away on holiday or business.
‘The huge success of the vaccine rollout in the UK, the ever-growing vaccination rates in Europe and the massive effort from everyone to make travel Covid-safe should have meant a much longer green list than what we’ve got today.
Travellers should expect longer waiting times at UK borders when ‘green list’ starts on May 17
Travellers should expect longer waiting times at UK borders as the Government switches to a traffic light system for international travel.
Border Force director Paul Lincoln said passengers must accept there will be increased delays at ‘each stage’ of their journey, with staff required to check ‘100%’ of all travellers coming through.
His comments came as Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced that 12 countries – including Portugal, Gibraltar and Israel – would be added to the Government’s green list for travel.
From May 17, people in England will be able to visit those destinations without having to enter quarantine on their return.
But Mr Lincoln told a Downing Street press conference on Friday that the introduction of health checks at the border meant it now takes, on average, five to 10 minutes for staff to process each passenger arriving into the UK.
He said: ‘For the time being, passengers will need to accept an increase in the time taken at each stage of their journey.
‘It currently takes a Border Force officer five to 10 minutes to complete all the necessary checks, which means that even for the most compliant passenger, it might take 14 or 15 times longer to process than before, compared to around 25 seconds.
‘Where people do not have the correct paperwork, it can and has taken considerably longer, including when we need to serve fixed penalty notices for non-compliance.’
Mr Lincoln said Border Force was still under instruction from ministers to check ‘100% of passengers’ but that it would be making some paperwork digital, such as the passenger locator form, in a bid to ‘speed up’ the process, while more staff would be made available to carry out checks.
Heathrow Airport’s chief executive said the Government must ‘urgently address the unacceptable situation’ at the UK border.
John Holland-Kaye said in a statement: ‘Long immigration queues are an inevitable result of under-resourcing, not an inevitable result of extra checks.’
‘Almost all tourist hotspots in Europe including Spain, France and Greece are in the amber category, which is as good as red as far as most tourists are concerns, with potential 10-day quarantine needed on return.
‘The Government has at least committed to review the categories regularly.
‘Tourists are sat gazing at the amber light, revving their engines, desperate to travel safe in the knowledge that their jabs will protect them. The Government must flick those amber lights to green as soon as it possibly can.
‘In particular, we must see the vital UK-US travel market open up which remains inexplicably closed despite America’s own tremendous vaccine success.’
Elsewhere, airline bosses urged the Government to make ‘major additions’ to their newly announced ‘green list’ at the next review point in three weeks time, adding the relaxed rules represent a ‘reopening of air travel in name only.’
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of the industry body which represents UK carriers, said: ‘By contrast, the EU has said vaccinated people will be able to travel without restrictions, which leaves the UK at risk of falling behind and not opening up international travel to key markets across Europe as well as the United States.
‘We strongly believe that, alongside the domestic economy, travel can be safely reopened and so we must see major additions to the green list at the next review point in three weeks, alongside a simpler and much-reduced testing burden so that travel does not become the preserve of the wealthy only.’
Others have warned that Boris Johnson’s ‘slower and more cautious’ approach to resuming international travel will ‘delay the travel industry’s recovery’.
Mark Tanzer, chief executive of travel trade organisation ABTA, said: ‘Although it was good to hear the minister (Grant Shapps) say he wants people to be able to travel this summer, this is a slower and more cautious approach than previously outlined by the Government and will delay the industry’s recovery.
‘We understand that public health is the Government’s priority, and it was always expected that the return to international travel would be gradual, but the Government must use the next review to open up travel to more destinations, using the traffic light system to manage risk.
‘We also need the Government to commit to supporting travel agents and tour operators through what will continue to be difficult times ahead.
‘Travel will be one of the most restricted economic sectors coming out of the pandemic and this needs to be recognised through adequate grants to support these businesses.’
Conservative MP Huw Merriman said tonight: ‘The resumption of international travel on May 17 will be welcomed by those who long to visit loved ones overseas, by UK Plc and by the hundreds of thousands of workers whose jobs and livelihoods rely on this industry.
‘Barriers remain in place for most of our popular destinations, notably most of Europe, which have been placed on the amber list.
‘This cautious approach means many will have to quarantine and face increased costs from testing; this will deter travel.
‘The promise to give transparency over methodology and data, regular reviews of the rule-set and country lists, as well as increased digitisation to open e-gates on passenger arrival, must act as a springboard for more countries to be within reach as the summer progresses.’
Which countries are on the red and amber lists?
Angola, Argentina, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burundi, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Congo (Democratic Republic), Ecuador, Eswatini, Ethiopia, French Guiana, Guyana, India, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Maldives, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Oman Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, Suriname, Tanzania, Turkey, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Uruguay, Venezuela, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Afghanistan, Akrotiri and Dhekelia, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Armenia, Aruba, Austria, Azerbaijan, The Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bermuda, Bhutan, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, Bosnia and Herzegovina, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cayman Islands, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Comoros, Congo, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Curaçao, Cyprus, Czech , Republic (Czechia), Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, French , Polynesia, Gabon, The Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece (including islands), Greenland, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Kosovo, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macao, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Martinique, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mayotte, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Montserrat, Morocco, Myanmar (Burma), Nauru, Netherlands, New Caledonia, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, North Korea, North Macedonia, Norway, The Occupied Palestinian Territories, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands, Poland, Réunion, Romania, Russia, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Korea, South Sudan, Spain (including the Balearics and Canary Islands), Sri Lanka, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Martin and St Barthélemy, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Turks and Caicos Islands, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United States, Uzbekistan Vanuatu, Vietnam, Wallis and Futuna, Western Sahara, Yemen.
Following England’s move towards free international travel today, Mr Shapps also confirmed overseas travel rules expected to be ‘broadly similar in design’ across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The Transport Secretary said he had spoken with the devolved administrations and that England’s traffic light system had been created with their agreement.
‘All of the four chief medical officers of the Joint Bio Security Centre have met and agreed the principles that sit behind the traffic light system, so there is a large degree of agreement and co-operation in developing the system,’ he said.
No plans for the resumption of foreign holidays have been announced by the UK’s devolved administrations.
However, Mr Shapps highlighted there were ongoing election counts in Wales and Scotland which meant their governments were ‘in flux’ and ‘it may take a few days for them to describe precisely what they wish to do’.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: ‘The First Minister has previously said that international travel restrictions won’t be relaxed until May 17 at the earliest.
‘This is being kept under review and we would expect the new administration to announce its intentions as soon as possible.’
Earlier this week, Tui, the UK’s largest holiday company, announced it will offer customers coronavirus tests for a fraction of standard prices.
The cheapest package – aimed at people returning from green destinations – will be available for just £20, and consist of a lateral flow test and PCR test.
PCR tests alone typically cost £120 each, although several travel companies offer them for £60.
Tui said it is ‘subsidising the cost of testing to help customers travel again this summer’.
There are fears that testing requirements will make summer holidays unaffordable for many families by adding hundreds of pounds to the cost of a trip.
Fans demand the Champions League final be moved from Istanbul to England after Turkey is put on Covid ‘red list’ meaning EVERYONE who has bought a ticket will need to isolate or face a £10k fine on way home
Chelsea and Manchester City are due to meet in the final on May 29 in Istanbul, with around 10,000 fans from the teams due to be allowed in the stadium.
But the ability for Turkey to stage the all-English final has been placed into jeopardy after the country was added to the list of those requiring mandatory hotel quarantine for 10 days on return.
High coronavirus rates have made Turkey one of the high-risk countries that the British government is saying should be visited only for essential reasons.
Turkey has been placed on the UK Government’s ‘red list’ which has implications for this year’s Champions League final in Istanbul between Chelsea and Manchester City
Chelsea and City players would have to quarantine on their return if the final is played in Turkey
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed Turkey, Nepal and the Maldives are on the red list
People returning to England from the red-list countries must stay in designated hotels for 10 days at their own expense, with meals delivered to their door.
The Government is now in talks with UEFA over moving the Champions League final between Chelsea and Manchester City to England.
Grant Shapps told a Downing St press conference: ‘I’m afraid we are having to put Turkey on the red list and this will have a number of ramifications.
‘First of all, it does mean with the regards to the Champions League, fans should not travel to Turkey.
‘The FA are in discussions with Uefa already on this.
Chelsea fans celebrate outside the ground after beating Real Madrid 2-0 in their semi-final second leg at Stamford Bridge to complete a 3-1 aggregate victory and make the Champions League final where they will take on Manchester City. Picture date: Wednesday May 5, 2021
Manchester City fans celebrate outside the Etihad Stadium after reaching the Champions League Final, May 4
Fans offered different solutions to Turkey being added to the international travel ‘red list’
‘We are very open to hosting the final but it is ultimately a decision for Uefa.
‘Of course … the UK has already got a successful track record of football matches with spectators, so we are well-placed to do it.’
He added: ‘We are very open to it … it is actually, in the end, a decision for Uefa to make, but given there are two English clubs in that final, we look forward to hearing what they have to say.’
Fans have offered varying solutions to the problem of hosting the final in a ‘red list’ country, with many saying it should be held in England instead.
One said: ‘Move it to England, keep it simple.’
Another said: ‘Absolute no brainer to switch the final to UK equidistant venue, e.g. Villa Park or Cardiff.’
Manchester City and Chelsea booked their places in the final on May 29 after overcoming Paris St Germain and Real Madrid respectively earlier this week.
UEFA had insisted it had no plans to change the venue, stating: ‘The UEFA Champions League final will take place in Istanbul on May 29 with a limited number of spectators and we are assured the temporary lockdown which is in force until May 17 should not have any impact on the match.
‘UEFA continues to work closely with the Turkish Football Federation and the local and national authorities to stage the match safely.’
Elite sportspeople would not be exempt from the 10-day hotel quarantine rule upon their return to the UK.
This ruling would cause serious concern for Gareth Southgate’s England squad, who begin their European Championships campaign just 15 days after the planned European final.
Several Three Lions internationals, including key men Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden and Mason Mount, are set to contest the Champions League final and their preparations for the European Championships would be severely damaged.
And Transport Secretary Shapps confirmed the government are in talks to bring the final to England, so fans can attend the Champions League fixture and players remain on course for the European Championships.
Shapps said in a Friday press conference: ‘I’m afraid we are having to put Turkey on the red list, it does mean fans should not travel to turkey.
‘The FA are in discussions with UEFA. We are very open to hosting the final but it is ultimately a decision for UEFA.
Staging the final in Turkey would mean England players Phil Foden, Mason Mount and Raheem Sterling would have to quarantine for 10 days in a hotel on their return
‘Of course the UK already has successful track record of hosting games with spectators. I have spoken to the secretary of state for culture media and sport but we are very open to it’.
Mr Shapps also confirmed that Nepal and the Maldives were added to the countries in the ‘red list’ along with Turkey – the highest band of coronavirus-stricken countries that have restrictions for UK citizens.
Fan groups have urged UEFA to make a quick decision in light of the government’s announcement.
‘It is important they reach a decision quickly for the sake of the match-going fans, the earlier the better,’ said Ronan Evain, chief executive of Football Supporters Europe.
‘It would be a sensible decision to move the game. Health comes first and playing in Turkey would put thousands of English fans in an impossible position.
‘These are extraordinary times and they should be treated as such. It should not create a precedent for finals to be moved, depending on who is playing in them.
‘But this would have involved thousands of fans moving from one side of Europe to the other. It is legitimate to move the game.’
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