Viva Portugal! Holiday hotspot is ready to offer quarantine-free holidays to Britons from this weekend… and Greece could follow suit within days
- Officials in Lisbon want quarantine-free travel between Britain and Portugal
- Greece’s tourism minister says the country could allow Britons in from June 15
- Automatic 14 day quarantine for anyone entering the UK set to start next Monday
- Medical professionals and lorry drivers to be exempt from the quarantine rule
The holiday dreams of millions of Britons were given a boost last night after Portugal and Greece said they were ready to welcome back UK tourists within days.
Officials in Lisbon believe Britain has coronavirus ‘under control’ and want quarantine-free travel between the two countries to restart from this Saturday.
Greece’s tourism minister Harry Theocharis told the Mail the epidemic was moving ‘in the right direction’ in the UK and restrictions could be dropped for Britons from June 15.
The interventions increased pressure on Downing Street to re-think its plan for a ‘blanket’ 14-day quarantine amid a growing backlash from MPs at being denied a vote on the measures.
Home Secretary Priti Patel will today introduce the regulations in Parliament to come into effect from next Monday.
Officials in Lisbon believe Britain has coronavirus ‘under control’ and want quarantine-free travel between the two countries to restart from this Saturday. Pictured: Beach-goers social distancing in Praia de Rainha, Portugal
But they will be brought as a statutory instrument, which does not automatically go to a vote.
Under the plans, anyone entering the country by plane, train or boat will have to go into quarantine for two weeks.
This will apply to foreign tourists as well as Britons returning from abroad.
Home Secretary Priti Patel (pictured) will today introduce the regulations in Parliament to come into effect from next Monday
However, some people, including medical professionals and lorry drivers, will be exempt.
MPs among a cross-party group of at least 40 who are critical of the plans last night voiced their fury.
They want the Government to leave open the option of creating ‘air bridges’ – which would allow tourists between two countries to visit without needing to quarantine – to salvage as much of the summer holiday season as possible and help keep the hard-hit tourism industry afloat.
They say, instead of quarantine, arrivals to the UK could be subject to health checks or testing.
Industry chiefs say millions of Britons are desperate for a foreign getaway, but the blanket quarantine policy has all but cancelled summer holidays.
Former Cabinet minister David Davis said: ‘Parliament should be properly involved and quite plainly it is not. In this particular case, its very blanket policy could reasonably be amended in a number of ways.
A group of MPs want the Government to leave open the option of creating ‘air bridges’ – which would allow tourists between two countries to visit without needing to quarantine – to salvage as much of the summer holiday season as possible. Pictured: Young women walk by a Covid-19 warning sign in Praia de Rainha, Portugal
The MPs say, instead of quarantine, arrivals to the UK could be subject to health checks or testing. Pictured: An employee wearing a protective mask walks on the beach of the Divani Apollon Palace hotel, on the first day of the opening of hotels in Greece
‘For example, our death rate is many, many times than that in Greece. So the idea of quarantining someone coming from Greece who would have a much lower risk of suffering from the disease than someone anywhere else in Britain is plainly not supported by any sort of science.
‘The idea of putting in air bridges might be a sensible amendment.’
Former environment secretary Theresa Villiers said: ‘I would very much prefer the quarantine rules be targeted on flights from Covid hotspots.
‘I appreciate why the Government is bringing in quarantine but I do think that applying it in a blanket way across the board is an over-reaction.’
Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the influential 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, said: ‘I hope the Government will move swiftly to introduce air bridges and also to introduce a testing regime at airports as quickly as possible.’
Downing Street last night insisted it still intended to push ahead with the policy.
It has stressed quarantine will be reviewed every three weeks and has left open the possibility of striking air bridge deals in future.
But the first review period would not be until June 29.
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