Portugal’s sudden removal from the green list have raised risks of isolating UK from the rest of the world, London’s Heathrow Airport has warned.
Portugal was the only European holiday spot on the green list, which from Tuesday will contain only 11 countries and territories.
Ministers said the decision followed increasing concerns about the spread of the Indian variant and another potentially dangerous mutation, the Nepalese variant.
Heathrow Airport boss John Holland-Kaye said the measure represented another “lost summer” for tourism.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps suggested it could be mid-August before Europe caught up with Britain’s vaccination program, which would then allow travel restrictions to be lifted.
All of Europe is now on the amber list, meaning travelers have to quarantine at home for 10 days upon return and take several Covid-19 tests. The government advises against travel to amber list countries unless for exceptional reasons that do not include holidays.
Seven countries – Afghanistan, Bahrain, Costa Rica, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Trinidad & Tobago – will move from the amber to the red list from Tuesday, requiring 10 days costly quarantine in a hotel on return. Only travelers who have British or Irish citizenship or residency rights can enter the UK from these countries.
“The government decision to move Portugal straight from green to amber will do untold damage to customer confidence,” managing director Andrew Flintham said.
“We were reassured that a green watch list would be created and a week’s notice would be given so travelers wouldn’t have to rush back home. They have failed on this promise.”