Holidays nightmare as NO countries are added to UK’s ‘green list’

Holidaymakers suffered a hammer blow today as Portugal was removed from the UK’s green list, with Grant Shapps citing fears over the spread of the new Nepal variant.

In a brutal overhaul, the only major tourist destination in the lowest bracket is being axed from 4am Tuesday – with sources suggesting the new strain identified in the country was a significant factor in the decision.

No countries are being added to the ‘green list’, dashing hopes that places such as Malta, Jamaica and Grenada could be added to the roster thanks to easing Covid rates.

And more countries are being put on the ‘red list’ that means returning travellers must go into quarantine hotels. They are Egypt, Sri Lanka, Costa Rica, Bahrain, Sudan, Trinidad and Tobago and Afghanistan. 

Transport Secretary Mr Shapps said there had been a rise in test positivity in Portugal, and also pointed to the danger that the coronavirus variant linked to Nepal could pose a fresh threat to the escape from lockdown.

‘I want to be straight with people, it’s actually a difficult decision to make, but in the end we’ve seen two things really which caused concern,’ he said.

‘One is the positivity rate has nearly doubled since the last review in Portugal and the other is there’s a sort of Nepal mutation of the so-called Indian variant which has been detected and we just don’t know the potential for that to be a vaccine-defeating mutation, and simply don’t want to take the risk as we come up to June 21 and the review of the fourth stage of the unlock.’

At least 20 cases of the strain, which combines mutations from the Indian and South African versions, have been spotted in the UK. And a case has been identified in Portugal – which does far less genomic screening than Britain.

The decision sparked fury from the travel industry, while Portuguese government branded it ‘illogical’ and the MP for the Algarve Cristóvão Norte said it was ‘unfair’ and ‘overly cautious’. 

Meanwhile, Labour has renewed demands for the ‘amber list’ to be scrapped to prevent mutant strains from being imported.

And in another setback for travellers the EU has again delayed a decision on whether the UK will be added to its ‘white list’ of safe countries from which leisure travel is welcome.  

Holidaymakers suffered a hammer blow today as Portugal was removed from the UK's green list with Grant Shapps citing fears over the spread of the Nepal variant

Holidaymakers suffered a hammer blow today as Portugal was removed from the UK's green list with Grant Shapps citing fears over the spread of the Nepal variant

Holidaymakers suffered a hammer blow today as Portugal was removed from the UK’s green list with Grant Shapps citing fears over the spread of the Nepal variant

Portugal (pictured: A beach in Cascais near Lisbon) has been dropped from the UK's travel green list - in a move that will be a bitter blow to millions of Britons hoping for a holiday abroad this summer

Portugal (pictured: A beach in Cascais near Lisbon) has been dropped from the UK's travel green list - in a move that will be a bitter blow to millions of Britons hoping for a holiday abroad this summer

Portugal (pictured: A beach in Cascais near Lisbon) has been dropped from the UK’s travel green list – in a move that will be a bitter blow to millions of Britons hoping for a holiday abroad this summer

As well as Portugal being moved to the amber list from Tuesday at 4am, seven countries are being shifted to the red list

As well as Portugal being moved to the amber list from Tuesday at 4am, seven countries are being shifted to the red list

As well as Portugal being moved to the amber list from Tuesday at 4am, seven countries are being shifted to the red list 

The Government has moved Portugal from the non-quarantine green list to the 10-day self-isolation amber list in its latest review of travel restrictions

The Government has moved Portugal from the non-quarantine green list to the 10-day self-isolation amber list in its latest review of travel restrictions

The Government has moved Portugal from the non-quarantine green list to the 10-day self-isolation amber list in its latest review of travel restrictions

How the green list will look from 4am on Tuesday

How the green list will look from 4am on Tuesday

How the green list will look from 4am on Tuesday 








Nepal variant ‘could have been spread by Everest climbers’ 

Sources said the mutant strain has been detected in more than 20 Britons and is closely related to the Indian variant currently dominant in the UK

Sources said the mutant strain has been detected in more than 20 Britons and is closely related to the Indian variant currently dominant in the UK

Sources said the mutant strain has been detected in more than 20 Britons and is closely related to the Indian variant currently dominant in the UK

A coronavirus variant that is being linked to Nepal could have been spread by climbers travelling home from Mount Everest, experts say.

As many as 13 passengers flying from Nepal to Japan were infected with the new mutant strain that combines mutations from the Indian and South African variants. 

At least 20 cases have been spotted in the UK, MailOnline revealed today, with the strain first spotted on April 24 according to surveillance data. Cases were also detected in the US, India and Portugal. 

Its mutations mean scientists fear it could be more infectious, and more resistant to vaccines. 

Matt Hancock said yesterday Britain is preparing to buy millions of tweaked doses of the AstraZeneca jab that target the South African variant.

SAGE scientists think it makes jabs at least 30 per cent less effective against infections, but its impact on severe disease is not known.

Ministers sparked surge testing in postcode areas where the strain was detected, to root out every last case.

At least one case has been spotted in Portugal, which sources say will move to the ‘amber’ list today sparking holiday misery across the country.

Only one case of the variant has been recorded in Nepal so far, but the country carries out very little surveillance for mutant strains. The UK has placed Nepal and India on its ‘red’ list, and the US is on its ‘amber’ list. 

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Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye reacted with fury this afternoon, saying: ‘Ministers spent last month hailing the restart of international travel, only to close it down three weeks later all but guaranteeing another lost summer for the travel sector.

‘Everyone wants to protect public health, but the entire point of the Global Travel Taskforce was to establish a system to unlock low-risk travel safely.

‘Britain is the worst performing economy in the G7, and in the week that the Prime Minister hosts G7 leaders to launch his Government’s vision of Global Britain, he’s sending a message that the UK will remain isolated from the rest of the world and closed to most of its G7 partners.

‘If the Government is serious about protecting UK jobs and supporting businesses across the country, rapid action is needed to reopen flights to key trading partners, remove testing for vaccinated passengers from ‘green’ countries, and slash the cost and complexity of testing, as other G7 countries are doing.’

The Government said the decision to move Portugal to the amber list followed an ‘almost doubling’ in the country’s coronavirus test positivity rate and the discovery of 68 cases of the Indian variant including some with a mutation previously seen in Nepal.

Public Health England is investigating both the Indian variant and the mutation ‘to better understand whether it could be more transmissible and less effectively tackled by vaccines’. 

Mr Shapps said ‘decisive action’ will help ‘make sure that we can do a domestic unlock’.

‘We would expect in the ordinary course of events for there to be now a three-week period, obviously subject to if something dramatic comes up we would of course need to make changes elsewhere and we will have to reserve the right to do that to protect the population at home.

‘Look, 67million people have been through a lot this last year and a half, but a lot of people have come forward for their jabs in incredible numbers.

‘No one wants the government to fail to take decisive action to protect that as we look towards this fourth unlock, and we want to give ourselves the best possible chance when we get to that unlock and not have factors from outside – for example potentially vaccine defeating mutation – preventing us from being able to give ourselves the best chance of unlocking domestically.’

Mr Shapps said the UK had ‘done wonders with our vaccination programme and the rest of the world will catch up’.

‘Europe is probably 10 weeks behind but they will catch up and I don’t know exactly what that will mean in terms of the summer but the decisive action today is designed to protect the future, to make sure that we can do a domestic unlock or give ourselves the best possible chance of doing so and that will also help us to unlock international travel given time,’ he added.

‘So we’re not in the same place as last year, we’ve got the vaccination programme, we do need to check though that the vaccine can work against all the kinds of mutations that we’re seeing and so we’re having to take a safety first attitude when it comes to those mutations becoming apparent.’

With Portugal facing a shift to the amber list after ministers meet today, people returning from the country will have to self-isolate for 10 days as well as paying for coronavirus tests. 

It will be a huge kick in the teeth to Britons who have already booked a holiday in hot spots such as the Algarve, believing they will be able to return quarantine free.

And it will also be another damaging blow to the already struggling travel industry, which had hoped for more countries to be added to the green list this month. 

Yesterday Portugal saw its highest daily number of cases since March. And the country currently has a case rate of around 37 infections per 100,000 people – higher than the UK’s rate of 34.5.

The final decisions were based on an assessment from the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC).

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the priority was ‘keeping the country safe’. 

‘We have got to follow the data and of course, I understand why people want to travel but we’ve got to make sure we keep this country safe, especially because the vaccine programme is going so well,’ he told reporters at a G7 gathering in Oxford this morning. 

‘We have seen hospitalisations and deaths come right down and we have to got to protect the progress we have made here at home, whilst allowing for travel where it is safe.

‘You have got to follow the data.’ 

Mr Johnson hinted at a hard line when he was asked about expanding the green list yesterday, and said: ‘We’re going to try to allow people to travel, as I know that many people want to, but we’ve got to be cautious and we’ve got to continue to put countries on the red list, on the amber list, when that is necessary.

‘I want you to know we will have no hesitation in moving countries from the green list to the amber list to the red list, if we have to do so. 

‘The priority is to continue the vaccination rollout, to protect the people of this country.’

In the past, holiday-makers have normally been given days – and sometimes up to a week – to return to the UK from countries where travel restrictions have been changed.

The government has ignored pressure for other countries such as Malta to be added to the green list.

The Mediterranean island, a popular destination for British tourists, is currently on the amber list, but has high vaccination levels and low infections.

The Cayman Islands, Grenada, British Virgin Islands, Finland and some Caribbean islands were also among those being floated for the green list. 

Cyprus’ deputy tourism minister yesterday said the country ‘absolutely deserves’ to be in the loosest category. 

After today, the green list – which currently contains 12 countries – will not be reviewed until the week running up to June 28. 

That means it will be July before there is another chance for more destinations to make it on to the list. 








The full list of countries on the government's green, amber and red travel lists

The full list of countries on the government's green, amber and red travel lists

The full list of countries on the government’s green, amber and red travel lists 

Covid cases jumped by more than 36 per cent in a week today, the eighth day in a row they have been above 3,000 and the second day in less than a week they have reached more than 4,000

Covid cases jumped by more than 36 per cent in a week today, the eighth day in a row they have been above 3,000 and the second day in less than a week they have reached more than 4,000

Covid cases jumped by more than 36 per cent in a week today, the eighth day in a row they have been above 3,000 and the second day in less than a week they have reached more than 4,000

Twelve more lives were also lost to the virus today — rising a third on last Wednesday's figure — after yesterday's recording of zero bolstered calls for No10 to stick with its roadmap

Twelve more lives were also lost to the virus today — rising a third on last Wednesday's figure — after yesterday's recording of zero bolstered calls for No10 to stick with its roadmap

Twelve more lives were also lost to the virus today — rising a third on last Wednesday’s figure — after yesterday’s recording of zero bolstered calls for No10 to stick with its roadmap

Man City and Chelsea fans told to self-isolate after Porto final 

Hundreds of Manchester City and Chelsea fans who travelled to Portugal for the Champions League final last weekend have been ordered to self-isolate for 10 days – with the country axed from the UK’s Green List.  

Supporters who travelled on a Ryanair flight from Porto to Manchester on Sunday morning have been contacted by the NHS’s Test and Trace app – though the number of positive cases is unknown. 

Three planeloads of Chelsea fans were also asked to self-isolate, leading to fears that all 12,000 supporters who travelled to Lisbon could be affected. Both clubs organised flights for their supporters – though some travelled independently. 

Fans who were on the flights organised by the club shared details of messages from the NHS Track and Trace app which contacts people who have been in close contact with someone who has Covid-19.

‘Anyone else been captured by NHS track and trace since getting back from Porto?’ one supporter posted on Facebook. ‘Despite two vaccinations, a negative test and no symptoms I’ve got to self-isolate for 10 days …Deep Joy!’

Chelsea fans were offered a £199 travel package through the club on top of the cost of the match ticket, although some of their 6,000 supporters chose to travel to the country independently.  

Football fans celebrating Sporting Lisbon’s title win were also identified as potential causes. 

Portugal’s government has kept bars and night clubs closed and still recommend people working from home but the country has now lost its place on the UK’s ‘green list’.  

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How did the Chelsea fans end up in self-isolation?

Dozens of Chelsea supporters have reportedly been told to self-isolate after flying to Portugal on chartered flights for the team’s Champions League final against Man City, which they won 1-0.  

Flights put on by the team departed the UK for Porto on the day of the game, last Saturday, May 29, and came back immediately after.

There were 6,000 tickets allocated to Chelsea for travelling fans and the Portugese government said they must all travel as part of the group, staying in a ‘match bubble’ on the day, getting tested for Covid and flying home straight after the match.

Fans yesterday, June 2, posted messages on a fan forum saying they had been sent messages by NHS Test & Trace telling them to self-isolate because they had been close to someone who tested positive for the virus.

WERE THEY TESTED?

All passengers had to take a PCR Covid test within three days before they flew. Anyone with a positive result or no result should not have been allowed to travel.

The same test result was allowed to be used for their return journey and Government rules say they should do swab tests on day 2 (May 31 or June 1) and day 8 (June 6) after arriving home. It is unknown how well this is enforced.

HOW DID PEOPLE TEST POSITIVE SO QUICKLY?  

People were tested before departure and not allowed to go if they had a negative result so, if the system worked, any positive tests should have come after the trip – although tests aren’t perfect and up to half may get an incorrect result, depending on the test type. 

It generally takes a day to get a test result back – or longer if it’s a home test – and then contact tracing takes place afterwards, so it’s unlikely the process would be fast enough for the positive tests to come any later than Tuesday, June 1.

This suggests the positives were among people who got tested on the day they got back or took a test before they left without getting the result. The day 2 return tests are postal tests so are unlikely to have been done in time.

IS IT LIKELY THEY CAUGHT THE VIRUS IN PORTUAL?

It’s difficult to know when people caught coronavirus but the gathering of thousands of people at the game in Portugal makes it a likely spreading event.

However, it generally takes four to five days for the virus to ‘incubate’ in someone before they are fully infected and start to show symptoms, if they are symptomatic.

During this incubation period people might be less likely to test positive because they don’t have much of the virus in their body.

It’s possible that: 

A) Someone caught the virus shortly before taking their pre-departure test, tested negative because they were in the incubation period, went to Portugal without knowing they had it, then tested positive afterwards.

B) Someone caught the virus in Portugal and managed to test positive just one or two days later.

C) Someone caught the virus in Britain after taking their test but before departing, then got tested when they got home.

D) Someone who was positive before flying got an incorrect negative test result. This generally happens to between three and five out of 10 people who are tested once and are not physically ill at the time.

WILL THEY HAVE CAUGHT A NEW VARIANT?

The dominant variant in Portugal is the Kent/England variant B117, which makes up 87 per cent of cases there, according to the Portugese department of health, so it’s likely that anyone infected there would catch this one.

Although not dominant any more in the UK, pushed out by the Indian variant, the Kent strain is well understood and vaccines protect well against it.

The country also has the South AfricaN B1351 and Brazilian P1 strains, which worry health officials, but these are present in small numbers in the UK, too. Portugal isn’t known to have any dangerous new variants that haven’t been found in Britain already. 

WHAT HAPPENS NOW? 

Any fans who have been in close contact with someone who later tested positive will be contacted by NHS Test & Trace and told to isolate for 10 days after the contact happened.

This can come by phone call, email, text or notification through the NHS app if both people have it and the positive tester logs their result online.

Other people from the UK can be contacted by Test & Trace if they were in Portugal when the contact happened, but people living in Portugal will likely be outside of the programme’s scope. 

The self-isolation period works in the same way as it does if someone is exposed in the UK, and it applies even to fully vaccinated people or those who have already had the virus. It is generally not policed and relies on people complying in good faith. 

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Travel industry experts have suggested that case levels are low enough to move countries down.

However, Spain and Greece, which are two of the most popular tourist destinations of British holiday-makers, look doomed to remain on the amber list for another month at least. 

Meanwhile, Bahrain, Costa Rica and Vietnam are among the countries that could be moved up to the red list.

While amber arrivals are required to self-isolate for 10 days, and complete two PCR tests, arrivals from red list countries must stay in a quarantine hotel once landing in the UK – at the cost of £1,750 per person. 

Portuguese MP Mr Norte told LBC Radio it was an ‘unfair decision’ that has ‘no basis’. 

‘I respect it but I think they have an overly cautious approach. Portugal has taken all the measures and the results show it,’ he said. 

Andrew Flintham, manging director for Tui UK, said: ‘This latest announcement is another step back for our industry.

‘After promises that the Global Travel Taskforce would result in a clear framework, removing the damaging flip-flopping we all endured last summer, the Government decision to move Portugal straight from green to amber will do untold damage to customer confidence.

‘We were reassured that a green watch list would be created and a week’s notice would be given so travellers wouldn’t have to rush back home. They have failed on this promise.

‘Unlike other European countries and despite multiple requests, the Government has refused to be transparent about the data requirements for green, amber and red destinations.

‘We must see the methodology so we can help our customers and plan our operations accordingly. There are destinations around the world with little or no Covid-19 cases and good vaccination rates, so we need to understand why these remain on the amber list.’

EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said: ‘This shock decision to add Portugal to the amber list is a huge blow to those who are currently in Portugal and those who have booked to be reunited with loved ones, or take a well-deserved break this summer.

‘With Portuguese rates similar to those in the UK it simply isn’t justified by the science.

‘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.

‘Especially when domestic travel is allowed within the UK, despite a number of cities having infection rates 20 times greater than much of Europe.’

Paul Charles, chief executive of The PC Agency, suggested the government was motivated by ‘political’ considerations rather than public health. 

On the decision not to add any more countries to the green travel list he said: ‘I think it’s a terrible decision that threatens jobs and recovery in the travel sector.

‘It shows little awareness of the safe destinations globally and is at odds with how citizens from other countries such as America are travelling.

‘Those British citizens who have been fully jabbed should be given more flexibility to travel to a wider range of green destinations.

‘They are basically putting at risk tens of thousands of jobs across aviation and the travel sector, and not showing any signs of helping the sector to recover.

‘They seem to want to continue to create an atmosphere of fear among travellers, which is totally at odds with other countries.

‘There are several countries which meet the criteria to be on the green list so this is clearly a politically charged decision rather than one based on data.’

Experts say the coronavirus variant being linked to Nepal could have been spread by climbers travelling home from Mount Everest.

As many as 13 passengers flying from Nepal to Japan were infected with the new mutant strain that combines mutations from the Indian and South African variants. 

At least 20 cases have been spotted in the UK, with the strain first spotted on April 24 according to surveillance data. Cases were also detected in the US, India and Portugal. 

Its mutations mean scientists fear it could be more infectious, and more resistant to vaccines. 

Mr Hancock said yesterday Britain is preparing to buy millions of tweaked doses of the AstraZeneca jab that target the South African variant.

SAGE scientists think it makes jabs at least 30 per cent less effective against infections, but its impact on severe disease is not known.

Ministers sparked surge testing in postcode areas where the strain was detected, to root out every last case.

Only one case of the variant has been recorded in Nepal so far, but the country carries out very little surveillance for mutant strains. 

The UK has placed Nepal and India on its ‘red’ list, and the US is on its ‘amber’ list. 

The Nepal strain is a mutated version of the Indian variant currently dominant in the UK — B.1.617.2 — but also carries the K417N mutation spotted on the South African variant — B.1.351 — which scientists say could make jabs less effective. 

The new mutant strain has been named Delta+K417N.

Nepal faced its second wave of the pandemic in May, driven by imports of the Indian variant after it kept its borders open.

There have been several Covid outbreaks in camps at Mount Everest, with more than 100 people reported infected at a base camp in May. 

Dr Simon Clarke, a microbiologist at Reading University, told MailOnline it was ‘entirely possible’ the mutant strain was being spread by travellers. 

‘Anywhere travellers go is a likely source of transmission across the world,’ he said. ‘It seems to me that the Himalayan region is for Nepal is a tourism hotspot.’  

Before the news emerged Robert Boyle, former director of strategy at British Airways’ parent company IAG, said a number of summer hotspots could be added to the green tier if islands were considered separately.

He wrote in a blog post: ‘It still seems very likely that whilst Spain and Greece will not make it onto the green list, many of their islands will, due to lower case rates and higher vaccinations than on the mainland.’

Mr Boyle added: ‘Malta, Finland and Slovakia are fairly safe bets, based on high testing rates and low reported cases.’

Portugal is the only viable major tourist destination currently on the green list, but there have been reports it could be downgraded to amber.

The Government has urged people to avoid non-essential travel to amber and red countries.

Travellers returning from amber list locations – which include popular hotspots such as Spain, France, Italy and Greece – must quarantine at home for 10 days and take two post-arrival tests.

Several additions to the red list are expected today. 

People returning to the UK from a red country are required to spend 11 nights in a quarantine hotel, at a cost of £1,750 for solo travellers.

Assessments of travel lists are based on a range of factors, including the proportion of a population that has been vaccinated, rates of infection, emerging new variants, and access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing.

Home Office minister Victoria Atkins said the public should ‘exercise their common sense’ about travelling abroad.

She told Times Radio: ‘We all want to get back to normality, pre-pandemic normality.

‘But I think (we) all understand we’ve got to take careful steps to do that.’

Yesterday Cyprus’ deputy tourism minister said the country ‘absolutely deserved’ be put on the UK’s travel green list.

Savvas Perdios told the Telegraph: ‘Cyprus absolutely deserves to be green-listed.

‘We have made a lot of progress, especially over the last month.’

The country’s current Covid infection rate sits at 36.95 per 100,000 people – on par with green-listed Portugal (35.58) and the UK (34.5).

Yesterday, the country, which went into a short two-week firebreaker lockdown in May, reported just 58 new daily cases.

And Mr Perdios said around half of the country’s 875,000 population has been vaccinated so far.

It comes as the Mail today revealed how foreign holidays are under threat because ministers are worried about a new Covid variant.

Scientists have alerted ministers to the mutant strain – thought to have originated in Nepal – which has apparently spread to Europe. They fear the strain is resistant to vaccines.

But a member of the Government’s SAGE committee of experts said officials should not be overly concerned. He added: ‘There are thousands of variants. This is a virus that is changing all the time.’ 

And Tory peer Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith, chairman of the Airport Operators’ Association, said: ‘How many more variants have we got to be worried about? What matters is data and the success of our vaccination programme.’

The developments are a huge blow for the travel industry, which has been brought to its knees by the pandemic.

Industry leaders and MPs have warned that more than a million jobs are at risk if most of the summer season is lost, with billions more wiped from the UK economy. 

Last night, even government advisers said the UK could not keep panicking every time a new variant emerges. Professor Sir John Bell said ministers should avoid ‘scampering down a rabbit hole’ when new strains are detected, and instead focus on hospitalisations, serious disease and deaths. 

Health workers carry Ramjee Kunwar, 65, a Covid-19 patient from a helicopter to an ambulance after being airlifted from Pokhara to Kathmandu due to health complications

Health workers carry Ramjee Kunwar, 65, a Covid-19 patient from a helicopter to an ambulance after being airlifted from Pokhara to Kathmandu due to health complications

Health workers carry Ramjee Kunwar, 65, a Covid-19 patient from a helicopter to an ambulance after being airlifted from Pokhara to Kathmandu due to health complications

Scientists have alerted ministers to the mutant strain – thought to have originated in Nepal – which has apparently spread to Europe. Pictured: Passengers arriving at Heathrow Airport

Scientists have alerted ministers to the mutant strain – thought to have originated in Nepal – which has apparently spread to Europe. Pictured: Passengers arriving at Heathrow Airport

Scientists have alerted ministers to the mutant strain – thought to have originated in Nepal – which has apparently spread to Europe. Pictured: Passengers arriving at Heathrow Airport 

Last night, MPs and industry expressed alarm at the prospect of foreign summer holidays slipping away. 

Tory MP Henry Smith, chairman of the all-party Future of Aviation group of MPs, and whose constituency includes Gatwick, said: ‘After a devastating year for our aviation, travel and tourism industries, this will come as a hammer blow to an industry that is close to breaking point.

‘Far from benefiting from a vaccine dividend, this reinforces that our overly cautious approach to international travel is a restart in name only.

‘We must ensure that we avoid a summer shutdown that will cause irreversible damage to businesses and communities who rely on international travel.’ 

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the ‘amber list has to be scrapped because of the huge confusion it is creating and the number of travellers who are now coming through our airports’.

‘The government has made a complete hash of this frankly…

‘What we need to do is yes have that small green list, we totally understand that people do want that hope of going on holiday abroad, but put the amber list countries into the red list and let’s have a comprehensive hotel quarantining system because keeping our variants is absolutely critical.’

He added: ‘We have to get our Covid border protections right.’

Mr Thomas-Symonds said that the green list should be built up ‘slowly and safely’ while tough restrictions are in place on other countries.

‘I’m not saying that the green list needs to be closed. In fact the way to build a safe green list of countries is to have the other countries with very strict border controls against Covid,’ he added.

Brussels recommends that member states lift travel restrictions on people coming from countries on its ‘white list’ – although member states are not obliged to follow the guidance and many do not.

Currently the list includes Israel, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Australia.

However, there are reports that Japan is about to be added, even though much of the country has been in lockdown.

The UK’s status is now expected to be reviewed again on June 14.  

HAVE SUN-SEEKING BRITS PLAYED A ROLE IN PORTUGAL’S RISING INFECTION RATE? 

Portugal’s Covid infection rates were already rising before Brits were allowed to holiday in the country, data shows.  

The country was one of the 12 countries to be named by Grant Shapps on May 7 as on the green list.

Since May 17, UK citizens have been allowed to travel to the Algarve and Portugal’s other popular tourism hotspots quarantine-free.

They were still required to take a Covid test before and after travelling, meaning only very few would have been able to bring the virus into the country.

Yesterday Portugal recorded 724 infections yesterday, its highest daily number of cases since March . 

And the country currently has a case rate of around 37 infections per 100,000 people – higher than the UK’s rate of 34.5. 

But cases have been rising steadily since May 11 — six days before Brits were allowed to travel to the country — when there were 268 positive tests.

Portugal's rising Covid infection rates have been linked to Brits holidaying in the country but cases were already rising before it was green-listed for travel

Portugal's rising Covid infection rates have been linked to Brits holidaying in the country but cases were already rising before it was green-listed for travel

Portugal’s rising Covid infection rates have been linked to Brits holidaying in the country but cases were already rising before it was green-listed for travel

Graph shows: Portugal's confirmed Covid cases per million people since the start of the pandemic

Graph shows: Portugal's confirmed Covid cases per million people since the start of the pandemic

Graph shows: Portugal’s confirmed Covid cases per million people since the start of the pandemic

Portugal recorded just 377 new Covid cases on May 7, when it was announced it would be on the UK’s green list. 

Since then cases have risen 56 per cent, with cases rising 34 per cent in the last fortnight in contrast to neighbouring Spain — on the amber list — which has seen infections drop.

Its average cases per million people dipped below the UK’s briefly from May 10 (31.98) to May 13 (34.38) for the first time since April 7.

But they began steadily rising before Britons were allowed to enter the country without quarantining on return.

And the rate of increase has remained stable since that date, increasing 20.3 per cent in the last week.

Portugal and Brunei are the only two countries of the 12 on the green list to have seen infections rise since May 17. 

Portugal's average cases per million people dipped below the UK's briefly from May 10 (31.98) to May 13 (34.38) for the first time since April 7

Portugal's average cases per million people dipped below the UK's briefly from May 10 (31.98) to May 13 (34.38) for the first time since April 7

Portugal’s average cases per million people dipped below the UK’s briefly from May 10 (31.98) to May 13 (34.38) for the first time since April 7

Some 16,500 football fans traveled to Porto last weekend for the Champions League final between Chelsea and Manchester City.

Thousands packed the city’s bars, with many pictured ignoring social distancing rules and not wearing face masks. 

It forced Porto’s health authority to tell residents who were near the fan zones to ‘reduce contacts’ over the next few weeks and look out for Covid symptoms.

But any effect on cases from the British fans travelling to the country will not be recorded for another few days due to the incubation period.

It takes about five days for the virus to take hold in the body after initial infection. 

Just 20.8 per cent of people in Portugal have been fully vaccinated — compared to nearly half in the UK — while only 43.2 per cent have had their first jab — compared to more than three quarters of Brits.

And it is too early to tell whether the country’s swell in cases has come as a result of the Indian variant, with the results of genomic testing of Brits returning to the UK expected today.

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