Brits: 'What's the point of vaccinations if we have to quarantine?'

Vaccine Efficacy 0 Comments

Posted By: Fielden Nolan (nolanf) on 06/08/2021

- June 8, 2021

  • Environment Secretary George Eustice told Britons not to go abroad this summer amid Portugal chaos 
  • British passengers had until 4am this morning to return to the country or face home quarantine for 10 days
  • Final commercial flight back was WizzAir plane from Faro to Doncaster Sheffield Airport which landed at 3am 
  • Travellers have described how the abrupt change made them feel 'ashamed to be British' as they left Portugal 
  • Cabinet ministers on Thursday downgraded Portugal from green to amber over growing fears of Nepal variant

Exasperated UK travellers flying back from Portugal today revealed they have paid thousands of pounds in their failed attempt to get home before travel restrictions snapped into force at 4am, and questioned why they have to quarantine for 10 days if they have already been vaccinated.

Passengers landing at Gatwick, Stansted and Birmingham this morning raged at the Government's 'pedantic' decision to strike Portugal off the green list of destinations - a move which effectively dashed the holiday plans of millions this summer and sparked travel chaos in Faro and Lisbon.

Cabinet ministers downgraded Portugal to amber over concerns about the so-called Nepal variant - despite just one case of the strain being found in the European summer destination when the policy was announced last Thursday while 43 cases were identified in the UK on the same day.  

Thousands of families already in Portugal were forced to cut their breaks short and pay huge sums extra to buy Covid-19 tests and flights home. Others missed the deadline and will now have to quarantine, as well as produce a negative test taken three days before their journey or face a £500 fine.  

Self-employed car valet worker Ben Bolt, 28, returning from holiday in Lisbon with partner Amber Wood, 24, said he has lost 'at least £4,000' and said may need to apply for universal credit to cover rent.

Speaking at Gatwick, he said: 'It's ridiculous. We won't be travelling again this year. It's not worth the stress. I will lose at least £4,000. I don't know how we will make rent. We're looking into grants or universal credit to cover it. We tried to get back earlier, but it was impossible to get on a flight.' 

Kathy Kirby, 64, from Battersea, said she paid £589 to try - and fail - to rebook flight from Faro for yesterday 'multiple times' after deciding to cut her five-day holiday in Portugal short. She also questioned why she would need to self-isolate given she has been vaccinated.  

She said: 'I'm not very happy because I made attempts to get back before the deadline for quarantine but unfortunately it didn't work. I was very disappointed, I was only going on a five-day break anyway but it was cut back to three days, unfortunately I've ended up spending more money to get back.

'It caused me a lot of inconvenience, so clearly I'm not terribly happy about this situation especially as I've had both vaccinations. I wouldn't have thought I would have to go through ten days of quarantine, what's the point of having vaccinations if we end up having to quarantine?' 

Others noted that flights were less than half full. At Stansted, Marta Gaj, 35, said: 'I am vaccinated and I have done tests at work many times, and still I almost feel like a criminal. I can't really understand it because there must be more people being killed on the roads every day than there are dying from Covid.'  

Downing Street has not ruled out the Prime Minister taking a foreign holiday this summer. Asked whether Boris Johnson will be heading abroad amid debate over travel restrictions, his official spokesman said: 'We wouldn't speculate on the PM's plans and will set out any details in the normal manner.'  

However, Environment Secretary George Eustice told Britons not to take holidays abroad this summer, and suggested people instead take breaks in UK destinations such as Cornwall. 

The Cabinet minister told Sky News: 'Our advice has been don't travel unless it's absolutely necessary. Obviously we had hoped, with these three categories that we had, we had hoped that situation would be improving in other parts of the world, that we'd be able to progressively add other countries to the green list.

'Sadly, that's not the situation, we do have this new variant of concern first identified in India that is now cropping up in other countries, and we've just got to take a very cautious approach. 

'I will be staying at home, I have no intention of travelling or going on a holiday abroad this summer. We've got some fabulous places to visit in this part of the country, not least of course Cornwall, where there will be a very very busy summer I'm sure.  

'My advice to people would be holiday at home, we've got some great places here.'  

Asked whether the Environment Secretary's suggestions that people should holiday in the UK was official advice, the Prime Minister's official spokesman said: 'He was speaking personally about his own plans to holiday at home.

'He set out the advice as it is, there is a green list of destinations where it is possible to travel overseas, people may choose to do so if they wish, otherwise we would advise against travel to amber and red list countries.'

Yesterday thousands of Britons flew back from the Algarve, the Portuguese capital and the island of Madeira to beat the 4am deadline today. The last commercial flight back appeared to be a WizzAir plane from Faro to Doncaster Sheffield Airport - which landed at 3am. 

From today, UK travellers arriving from Portugal are required to quarantine at home for 10 days. They must also book and pay for two tests pre-departure and take both tests on day 2 and day 8 of self-isolation. 

Breaking quarantine could lead to a £10,000 fine while those who do not take tests on day 2 and day 8 of their self-isolation facing £2,000 penalties. And those who provide incorrect information on their passenger locator forms could be fined £10,000 or be jailed for 10 years - or both.  

Travel industry chiefs have reacted with fury, warning that the decision risks a jobs bloodbath and wrecking an already devastated sector. They are now calling for increased financial support and a 'recognition' of the vaccine roll-out at the next review date for global travel, due by June 28.

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