UK Portugal Air Bridge Announced
The UK Government has announced a UK Portugal air bridge as Austria, Croatia, and the islands of Trinidad and Tobago are removed from the safe travel corridor list, meaning that passengers will now have to quarantine themselves for 14 days upon return to the UK.
The changes announced by UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps will apply from 4am on Saturday 22 August, which will probably lead to a scramble for UK tourists currently on holiday in Croatia and Austria trying to get home before the deadline falls, as happened when France was removed from the safe travel corridor list along with the Netherlands and Malta.
Meanwhile, Switzerland has been added to Scotland’s quarantine list of countries.
UK Portugal Air Bridge : Boost to Portugal’s Tourism Industry
Portugal has long been arguing that the country should be included on the UK’s safe corridor list. The country has close ties with the UK, and many Britons go there each year for their holidays. However, when the intial list was announced Portugal was not incuded partially due to outbreaks in and around Lisbon.
The removal of Portugal from the UK travel ban will be a massive boost to the country’s tourism sector. The UK has the largest number of overseas travellers to Portugal, more than two million each. Some 1.2 million of these visit the Algarve.
Luis Araújo, President of Turismo de Portugal, greeted the announcement warmly.
“We are delighted to have the UK government confirmation for Portugal’s inclusion in an air bridge arrangement to prevent mandatory quarantine upon return to the United Kingdom,” he stated in a press release.
“The people of the United Kingdom have celebrated our culture, traditions, landmarks, and history for decades, by our side, forming the primary source of inbound visitors for many regions in Portugal…. Portugal cannot wait to welcome you.”
Croatia UK Travel Ban Expected
While the move to remove Croatia was widely predicted, the decision to include Austria and the Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Tobago was perhaps less expected.
Speculation had been mounting whether Greece and Croatia would be next for the UK travel ban.
Although Croatia has only recorded some 166 COVID-19-related deaths, the rate of infections increased by 175 percent from 7.8 per 10,000 people to 21.5 per 100,000 in the period from 3-9 August to 10-16 August, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, as reported by Sky News.
Perhaps somewhat ironically, Austria is one of the countries that has advised its people from travelling to Croatia.
Who is Next for the Red List?
In what is fast resembling a game of pass the parcel, the obvious question is which country is next for the chop?
Switzerland, which has been added to Scotland’s quarantine list, might be favourites, although many had expected Greece to suffer the same fate as Croatia.
What is for sure, is that if Grant Schapps plays true to form, some countries will be removed from the UK’s safe travel corridor while others will be added to it some time next week just in time for travellers to make a last minute dash back to the UK before the traditional weekend travel ban. How this benefits the country’s ailing travel industry is a moot point.
Earlier in a week, Heathrow Airport had announced proposals for testing people arriving at the airport in a move it hopes will reduce the 14-day quarantine period. The proposals are awaiting government approval.
The full UK travel corridor list can be found here.
Mark Bibby Jackson
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