MPs and travel bosses furious at the cautious green list as thousands of Brits made a dash for the beaches of Portugal
TRAVEL bosses and MPs raged at the Government’s cautious green list yesterday as thousands of Brits made a dash for the beaches of Portugal.
And, as the first tourists jetted off for some southern sunshine, Boris Johnson’s former right-hand man Dominic Cummings branded Britain’s Covid borders policy a “joke”.
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The PM and Health Secretary Matt Hancock were urged to add more popular sunshine destinations to the green list by the start of the summer season.
EasyJet chief Johan Lundgren wants ministers to make more of Europe green, warning: “The Germans are going to beat the Brits to the sun loungers and for no good reason at all.”
Just 12 countries and territories are on the green list for quarantine-free travel — with only Portugal and Gibraltar sunshine destinations. The likes of France, Spain, Italy and Greece are all amber, with Mr Hancock yesterday urging people not to travel.
He said: “Unless you have an exceptional reason, you should not be travelling there.”
Tory MP Huw Merriman, chairman of the influential Transport Select Committee fumed: “Can I ask you what the point of me having my passport is anymore?” He added: “When will this government actually take a little bit of risk and allow people to get on with their lives again?”
It emerged last night that the 27 EU states were tomorrow likely to add the UK to their white list of countries from which tourists were allowed.
‘Emotional as a family met new tot’
INTERNATIONAL travel was declared illegal nine long weeks ago but yesterday Brits were allowed to jet off once more.
Excited holidaymakers and those desperate to see friends and family were pouring into airports.
I joined passengers flying from Heathrow’s Terminal 5 on the 7.30am British Airways flight BA500 to Lisbon. But travel in this new era is unlike anything most of us have experienced.
Portugal requires a negative PCR test for all arrivals. I also had to order, and pack in my luggage, a lateral flow test to be taken in Portugal for my return to the UK.
There were emotional scenes when BA’s flight finally arrived in Lisbon.
New parents Natacha and Miguel Rodrigues, who work at Frimley Park Hospital, Hants, brought baby Gabriel to meet Miguel’s father Joaquim and sister Ana.
'A catastrophic misstep'
Brits heading to Portugal yesterday were delighted to be able to finally get away. Kevin and Pauline Nash, from Essex, were among the first to board a green list flight to Faro in Portugal from Gatwick.
Company chairman Kevin, 66, said: “We’re excited to go on holiday, we haven’t been away since last September. It’s been a long, cold winter at home so we’re looking forward to it.”
Ali White, 54, was heading to Faro with student midwife daughter Becca, 27 and husband Paul, an engineer. She said: “We’ve an apartment there we haven’t seen in 14 months.”
David and Hazel Allsopp said they were glad to be returning to their home on the Algarve after getting stuck in the UK visiting family in December. David, 82, said: “It’ll be nice to finally get back home to the sunshine.”
Jamelah May, 42, from London, was travelling from Heathrow to Faro with ten-year-old daughter Miley-May. She said: “In the past year I’ve lost my business and it’s been horrific.”
Meanwhile, Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth called the UK’s borders policy a “sieve”. He said: “The delay in adding India to the red list surely now stands as a catastrophic misstep.”
The PM’s former de facto chief of staff Dominic Cummings also blasted the “joke border policy” and said Britain should have acted more like Taiwan to combat the virus.
MP Greg Clark labelled the ban on flying to amber countries “rather strange advice”. And ex Tory Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt asked for “absolute clarity” on the amber list.
British Airways boss Sean Doyle said there were many reasons why people needed to travel and the advice was not clear.
‘Onholiday…but not as you knew it’
THERE’S nothing that screams freedom like taking to the skies.
With a shiver of excitement, I entered Gatwick airport armed with face masks, pots of sanitiser and brandishing my negative fit-to-fly test.
Like some 5,500 other Brits, I was heading to sun-kissed Portugal, or rather its islands of Madeira. The green list came into force at 4am and by 4.30am I was queuing.
The airport was eerily quiet, and there was some fiddly pre-holiday Covid admin still to be done. Passengers giggled as they boarded the plane like freshers on the first day at college to be met by cheery cabin crew in floral necklaces.
It’s a summer holiday but not as you knew it. Tourists in Madeira have to wear masks unless eating or drinking, on a sunbed or in the pool. Restaurants and bars close at 10pm, with just five to a table. Yet, sipping a cold beer as the sun beat down, I felt privileged.
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