Portugal is on the brink of quarantine amid a spike in cases, with Britons facing a dash to beat the expected 4am Saturday deadline – as officials in England resisted calls to follow Wales and Scotland by putting restrictions on Greece.
The rate of Covid cases in Portugal has been above 20 per 100,000 for the past three days – the level at which the government considers introducing a quarantine.
Yesterday the number of new cases rose to 390 from 231 the day before, suggesting the current seven-day average of 22.7 will soon increase.
Meanwhile, cases in Greece are currently at a similar level to the UK. Paul Charles, boss of travel consultancy PC Agency, said the ‘stable’ situation in the country suggested the Scottish government’s decision to put it on the red list was ‘extreme’.
Any changes to quarantine arrangements are now announced on Thursday nights, with the new rules being imposed at 4am on Saturdays.
The previous two-week quarantine for travellers returning from Portugal was only lifted two weeks ago.
The rate of coronavirus cases per 100,000 of population in Greece over the past seven days is just 14 – well short of the government’s quarantine threshold of 20
One of Lisbon’s main railway stations largely deserted yesterday as holidaymakers stayed away amid a rise in cases
Countries on UK Government’s quarantine list
Pressure is now mounting on England to consider imposing quarantine rules on travellers arriving from Greece amid reports of people returning with coronavirus.
Rising Covid cases prompted the Scottish Government to announce travellers from Greece would have to self-isolate for 14 days from today, while Wales began asking arrivals from the island of Zante to enter quarantine.
The UK’s biggest tour operator Tui has suspended its holidays to the resort of Laganas on Zante.
But Greece has insisted it is doing ‘everything in our power’ to keep UK holidaymakers safe.
There were 14.3 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in Greece in the seven days to September 1, up from 14.1 a week earlier. This is a similar rate to the UK and still below the quarantine threshold.
It comes as rising cases in Portugal were prompting many UK tourists to pay hundreds of pounds to fly home before Saturday.
In Buckinghamshire, two groups of people have tested positive for coronavirus after returning from abroad – including a group of teenagers from the Marlow area who are reported to have been on a trip to Zante.
Buckinghamshire Council said some of them were pupils at Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School and all the affected households were self-isolating.
Tour operator Tui also said it was aware of a ‘small number’ of positive Covid-19 test results following a flight from Heraklion in Crete to London Stansted on August 27.
The UK’s biggest tour operator Tui has suspended its holidays to the resort of Laganas on Zante after an outbreak
Authorities impose new restrictions on the island of Zante as fears grow holiday destinations could become new covid hotspot
- Local restrictions have been put in place on the islands of Zante/Zakynthos amid fears of a rise in coronavirus cases. These include:
- Suspension of any kind of live events and celebrations such as parties, trade fairs, religious ceremonies, open markets etc.
- Prohibition of operation of all food/catering sector-related shops, services and facilities from midnight – 7am the next day.
- A ban on gatherings of more than 9 people, either indoors or outdoors;
- A limit of 4 people per table in any restaurant, except for cases where the party consists of family members, where the limit is 6 people;
- Mandatory use of face masks in indoor and outdoor public spaces.
One passenger on the flight, who had been contacted by NHS Test and Trace and asked to self-isolate, complained that ‘hardly anyone’ on the flight had been wearing a mask.
The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, told the PA news agency: ‘Our flight was hideous, hardly anyone wore a mask and the crew didn’t do anything about it.
‘We raised the issue twice with the cabin crew who still didn’t enforce it. My family is okay but we are having to self-isolate.
‘I’m so sad for my son because he has to miss his first week back at school.’
A Tui spokeswoman added: ‘We can confirm that no guests tested positive for Covid-19 in our hotels and no symptoms were displayed before or during the flight home by any of the customers.’
It came after Public Health Wales confirmed at least 16 cases of Covid-19 from three different parties who were on Tui flight 6215 from Zante to Cardiff on August 25.
One traveller claimed that the flight was full of ‘selfish ‘covidiots”, with passengers not wearing their masks properly and disregarding the rules.
In a statement, Tui said that cabin crew and other passengers confirmed there were multiple warnings about wearing face masks on the flight.
Meanwhile, the Guardian reported that officials had not notified Wizz Airline that eight passengers on a flight back from Crete had tested positive for coronavirus.
The teenagers, from Hampshire, were diagnosed after returning to London Luton airport on 25 August, it said.
But the Department of Health and Social Care said that it had taken action to advise the necessary people to self-isolate and its contact tracing team had been in touch with Wizz Air.