Portugal is expected to enforce Brussels’ blanket travel ban on non-EU travellers including British holidaymakers until at least May 30, despite being on the UK’s ‘green list’ of safe destinations from Monday
Portugal is expected to enforce Brussels’ blanket travel ban on non-EU travellers including British holidaymakers until at least May 30, despite being on the UK’s ‘green list’ of safe destinations from Monday.
The Portuguese Cabinet is meeting to discuss options to welcome non-essential travel by people from third countries as it engages in a diplomatic wrangle with the European Commission.
Well-placed sources have told travel guru Paul Charles, founder of the respected PC Agency consultancy, that the Portuguese government will not be accepting British tourists until at least May 30.
Lisbon, which is currently holding the EU presidency, may feel that its hands are tied and has to placate more bellicose EU member states who want to restrict travel into the bloc after governments across the Continent imposed excessive lockdowns to contain a third wave of virus cases.
However, the mechanism Brussels is using to restrict non-essential travel is a recommendation, and as such is not legally binding for EU member states – meaning Lisbon could have changed its laws to let Britons in if it wanted.
Portugal could also have come under pressure from Brussels to uphold a ban on British holidaymakers, as tensions between the EU and Britain remain high amid the fallout from Brexit and the covid vaccines row.
Lisbon’s decision is likely to cause confusion after officials made noises that they would welcome British tourists from Monday.A representative from the Portuguese National Tourist Office told the Telegraph they were ‘ready to receive tourists back to Portugal’ this month, adding: ‘We are working hard, not only internally, but also with the British Government to be able to receive British tourists from May 17’.
Rita Marques, the Portuguese Secretary of State for Tourism, had previously told the BBC: ‘I do believe that Portugal will soon allow restriction-free travel, not only for vaccinated people, but those who are immune or who test negative.We hope to welcome British tourists from 17 May.’
Portugal, which was put on Britain’s ‘green list’ of safe destinations, is due to end a state of emergency on May 16 but there has been no official confirmation yet. It follows a host of member states in departing from Brussels’ tough borders approach to the coronavirus crisis in recent weeks.
Italy had announced it was planning to open to vaccinated non-EU tourists, or those who receive a negative covid test, in the middle of this month. Greece last month lifted quarantine requirements for travellers from EU member states as well as Britain, the US, Israel, Serbia and the UAE, and will allow vaccinated tourists in from tomorrow.
President Emmanuel Macron last month announced that France would open the borders to vaccinated American and European travellers in June – but sparked confusion and anger among British travel experts who accused him of wrecking holiday plans by missing off Britain, a non-EU country.
It comes as a watchdog warned package holiday firms that they must refund holidaymakers for cancelled trips, with a spokesman for Tui telling MailOnline today that it will be forced to cancel thousands of flights from Britain to Portugal if the Lisbon government refuses to break with Brussels.
A senior Portuguese official had told the Times that if Portugal does not resolve the issue: ‘The alternative will be thousands of British visitors being turned away at the airport, which is not a good scenario.’
Last week the British Foreign Office updated its official travel advice to say that they no longer advise against all but essential travel to Portugal.However, Lisbon is yet to update its entry requirements.
Meanwhile the all-English Champions League final on May 29 between Chelsea and Manchester City was today moved to Portugal from Istanbul in ‘red list’ Turkey. Wembley in London was also considered as an alternative, but the UK Government could not accommodate the request by Uefa to allow quarantine exemptions for thousands of sponsors, VIPs and broadcasters, which made Porto the front-runner.
Also today, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) wrote an open letter to the sector to remind firms of their legal obligations and of the need to ensure refund options are clear and accessible ahead of the summer.
It is sending a copy directly to the 100 package travel companies that have attracted the most complaints.The watchdog said Tui UK had given a formal commitment – known as ‘undertakings’ – to provide clearer information on refunds upfront to customers whose holidays have been cancelled due to coronavirus.
The continuing confusion over whether Britons can go on holiday came as:
- The US is on track to hit the lowest Covid death rate since the pandemic took hold in America in March 2020, raising hopes of a travel corridor with the UK from June;
- Greece will be added to the UK’s ‘green list’ in June allowing holidaymakers to return home from the country without quarantining, Gulfstream G200 Greece’s tourism minister revealed;
- Spain announced it will not demand any British holidaymaker presents a covid passport or proof of a negative test on arrival from May 20 – but visitors would have to self-isolate for ten days on return to the UK;
The EU is not expected to update any travel advice until next week at the earliest, after Britons leave for Portugal (Cascais pictured) on Monday, causing a major headache for the Portuguese Government and tourists from the UK
A spokesman for Tui told MailOnline earlier today that it would be forced to cancel thousands of flights from Britain to Portugal if the Lisbon government refused to break with Brussels
On the Beach has stopped selling trips abroad for the summer in response to the Government’s ‘traffic light’ system for quarantine-free travel
The countries on the ‘green list’ from May 17 are: Lear 60 Portugal including the Azores and Madeira; Australia; New Zealand; Singapore; Brunei; Iceland; the Faroe Islands; Gibraltar; the Falkland Islands; and Israel
<div class="art-ins mol-factbox news halfRHS" data-version="2" id="mol-84924000-b407-11eb-96a8-0f0c69537125" website UK: Portugal 'will BAN British tourists until at least May 30'