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Pandemic ‘really spoiled our holiday’ tourists say as they return from Portugal

portugal amber list
Many travellers paid hundreds to reschedule flights as Portugal moved to the amber list at 4am this morning (Picture: BPM/PA)

Angry holidaymakers said they felt ‘ashamed to be British’ as they raced back from Portugal to dodge new amber list restrictions last night, landing with just hours to spare.

Tourists were left fuming on Thursday when the Government announced people had until today until tougher restrictions were introduced amid ‘growing evidence’ of a Nepal Covid variant.

Passengers flying into England complained their trips were ‘ruined’ as many were forced to fork out hundreds to change flights at the last minute and come home early.

Mum Laura Fernandes, 45, said she’d had an ‘absolute nightmare’ after paying £1,700 to buy second flights for five people.

She told MailOnline: ‘Because of quarantine, the kids would not have been able to go back to school. It’s a nightmare.’

Alan and Lisa Pechey, from Cambridge, said the shock decision to move Portugal to amber had ‘really spoiled their holiday’, leaving them ‘pretty furious’.

The pair was slammed with an £800 bill as they booked flights to Gatwick Airport from Lisbon to avoid quarantine restrictions.

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

Alan Pechey, 73, and Lisa Pechey, 66, who live in Cambridge, arrive at Gatwick Airport, West Sussex, after returning on a flight from Porto in Portugal before Tuesday's 4am requirement for travellers to quarantine for 10 days comes into force. Picture date: Monday June 7, 2021. PA Photo. Fears over new variants being imported into the country were behind the Government's decision to switch holiday destination Portugal from the green list to the amber list suddenly last week, with Britons scrambling for flights home before the deadline. See PA story HEALTH Coronavirus. Photo credit should read: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire
Alan Pechey, 73, and Lisa Pechey, 66, from Cambridge, arrive at Gatwick Airport from Porto (Picture: PA)
Pictured Bob Wallis and Christine Daiton passengers returning on a flight from Madeira, Portugal to Birmingham Airport before Portugal moves into the Amber list.
Bob Wallis said the UK had treated Portugal ‘disgracefully’ (Picture: BPM MEDIA)
w8media; NO CREDIT; The last flight from Portugal Monday evening at heathrow terminal 5 Heathrow Terminal 5 arrivals busy as the last few flights in to the UK from Portugal. Passengers catching the last flights back from Portugal into the uk before new quarantine laws come into force on Tuesday 8th June 04.00 am
The last flight from Portugal lands at Heathrow Airport on Monday evening
LISBON, PORTUGAL - JUNE 07: A health technician wearing full protective gear takes a nasal swab for a PCR COVID-19 test of a traveler at Synlab post in Parking lot 1 of Humberto Delgado International Airport a day before the country is taken off the UK's green list, imposing a mandatory ten-day quarantine to British residents returning home, during the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic on June 07, 2021 in Lisbon, Portugal. After the announcement of the British decision last June 03, thousands of British tourists interrupted their vacations and headed home. According to the president of the Algarve Tourist Board on June 05 alone, around 10,000 British tourists have departed Faro, in Algarve. (Photo by Horacio Villalobos#Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
A health technician takes a nasal swab for a PCR COVID-19 test of a traveller at Humberto Delgado International Airport a day before the country is taken off the UK’s green list (Picture: Corbis via Getty Images)

‘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.’

Meanwhile, Bob Wallis and wife Christine were lucky enough to ‘just manage’ to squeeze in their two-week break before quarantine restrictions hit.

But they still blasted the Government as they landed at Birmingham Airport from Madeira, claiming ministers have treated Portugal ‘disgracefully’.

Bob said: ‘I felt ashamed to be British out there at one point because all these guys are depending on British tourism and they were shocked that this happened. You feel really sorry for them.’

The couple enjoyed their get-away but have sworn off foreign holidays for a while after the stress of flight delays and filling in coronavirus forms at the airport.

Anyone returning from Portugal will now have to quarantine for 10 days and take at least two PCR tests under new amber list rules.

It comes as coronavirus cases in Portugal nearly double within three weeks.

However, the travel industry has fumed, accusing the Government of ‘tearing up its own rule book and ignoring the science’.

Easyjet’s chief executive Johan Lundgren said: ‘With Portuguese rates similar to those in the UK it simply isn’t justified by the science.

Pictured Andrew and Lyn Ball passengers returning on a flight from Madeira, Portugal to Birmingham Airport before Portugal moves into the Amber list.
Tourists were left fuming after the Government made the announcement last Thursday (Picture: BPM MEDIA)
w8media; NO CREDIT; The last 4 flights from Portugal Monday evening at heathrow terminal 5 Heathrow Terminal 5 arrivals busy as the last few flights in to the UK from Portugal. Passengers catching the last flights back from Portugal into the uk before new quarantine laws come into force on Tuesday 8th June 04.00 am
The move came after ‘growing evidence’ of a Nepal coronavirus variant, ministers said
Pictured Jacqueline Leonard passengers returning on a flight from Madeira, Portugal to Birmingham Airport before Portugal moves into the Amber list.
Jacqueline Leonard returning on a flight from Madeira, Portugal to Birmingham Airport (Picture: BPM MEDIA)

‘And to add no more countries to the green list when most of Europe’s infection rates are on a downward trend and many places with low infection rates below that of the UK, such as the Balearics with a current rate of 33 in 100,000 and Malta, with just 12 in 100,000, this makes no sense.’

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said last week he knew the situation was ‘frustrating’, but insisted tourists had always known countries could move lists with little time to spare.

He said: ‘I completely understand how frustrating this is both for people in Portugal, and for millions of people here who would love to go on holiday abroad this summer.

‘We were also clear that if you choose to go on holiday to countries on the green list, those countries are being reviewed every three weeks, and so there was always a risk with a fast-moving situation with new variants that countries might either go on to that list, or indeed come off.

‘That’s what’s happened here and I hope that people will understand – hard though this is – that we do need to take a cautious approach because people have made such progress in recent weeks and months.’

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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