TRAVEL: Portugal placed on amber travel list

03 Jun 2021 17:55

Bill  and Bernie Heaney enjoying the sunshine in the Algarve – but not this year.

By Bill Heaney

Any thoughts we had of a trip to the sun have just disappeared out of the window.

Portugal has beenbe placed on the amber travel list after worrying increases in test positivity in the country.

Evidence of increased cases of the Delta variant of concern being spread among people in Portugal with no travel history led the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) to recommend the step.

And on tonight’s six o’clock news there was extended coverage of people returning home early so that they would not have to quarantine.

There were also angry complaints from travellers who felt they had been ripped off for coronavirus protection.

The JBC analyses a wide variety of data to determine a country’s travel colour status – including COVID-19 prevalence and infection rates – with its findings taken up on a four-nation basis.

The situation in Portugal has required swift action to protect the gains made with the vaccine rollout – there has been an almost doubling in the COVID-19 test positivity rate in Portugal since the first review for traffic light allocations.

The changes affecting international travel come into force at 4am on 8 June. Any travellers returning to Scotland from Portugal beyond that deadline will have to self-isolate at home for 10 days.

This is the first review of international travel restrictions since the traffic light system was introduced on 17 May. It is subject to review every three weeks.

There are no additions to the green list at this time. Several countries are to be added to the red list, namely Afghanistan, Bahrain, Costa Rica, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Sudan, and Trinidad and Tobago.

People should not travel to amber or red countries other than for essential reasons.

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson, pictured right, said: “Portugal is a popular destination for Scottish holiday makers and this change will clearly cause disruption to people’s travel plans.

“However we have been forthright from the outset that the traffic light system is designed to protect the safety of the people of Scotland and the continued progress we are making as we come out of lockdown.

“Using the stringent methodology of the Joint Biosecurity Centre it is clear the risk this new variant poses is now too great to allow unrestricted travel to Portugal, an approach that has been agreed by all four nations.

“International travel for holidaying purposes remains risky and subject to sudden change. We have said before people should think very carefully about travelling – and this latest development serves to underpin that advice – especially so given the prevalence and unpredictable nature of variants of concern.”

The Scottish Government is offering the most comprehensive non-domestic rates relief for the aviation sector in the UK and was the first country in the UK to extend the 100% non-domestic rates relief for the sector for the whole of 2021/22. We’re also working with airports on route recovery, to help rebuild connectivity for business and tourism.

Eligible travel agents also benefited from sectoral grants of up to £25,000 per premises this year in addition to other support including Strategic Framework Business Fund grants, Restart Grants, furlough payments for staff, and non-domestic rates relief for retail premises.

Travellers returning from red list countries are required to enter managed isolation. Amber list returnees must self-isolate at home with two PCR tests on days 2 and 8. Travellers returning from green list countries are not required to isolate, with a PCR test on day 2. Robust measures have been put in place to monitor people returning from amber list countries.

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