Travellers will face “chaos and hardship” if Portugal is put back on the UK’s coronavirus quarantine list, an airline boss has warned.
Arrivals in the UK from Portugal may have to self-isolate for 14 days if restrictions are reimposed because of a rise in cases of COVID-19.
There were 21.1 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in Portugal in the seven days to 30 August, up from 19.4 in the seven days to 29 August.
A seven-day rate of 20 is the threshold above which the government considers triggering quarantine conditions.
Searches for flights to Portugal soared after the country was removed from the UK’s quarantine list less than a fortnight ago.
Portugal was removed from it on 22 August after coronavirus cases lowered.
The boss of the parent company of British Airways warned against reimposing restrictions on arrivals from Portugal.
Writing in The Times, Willie Walsh, chief executive of International Airlines Group, said: “Another U-turn by the government, adding Portugal to the quarantine list, will cause further chaos and hardship for travellers.”
He said the “ever-shifting list” of countries requiring quarantine means “the UK has officially hung up the ‘Closed’ sign”.
Walsh said: “The government is using arbitrary statistics to effectively ban 160 countries and in the process destroying the economy.
“The government needs to introduce a testing regime to restore confidence.”
Google search data showed a significant spike in searches for the term “flights to Portugal” by users in the UK at about 6pm on 20 August, the day the lifting of the quarantine was announced.
Travellers returning from Switzerland, Jamaica and the Czech Republic were the latest to be told they must quarantine for 14 days if they were arriving in the UK from Saturday following spikes in coronavirus infection rates.
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