Travelers returning to Britain from Portugal or its island territories of Madeira and the Azores will no longer be able to avoid quarantining as of Tuesday, British officials announced on Thursday, complicating the plans of Britons hoping for easy getaways to the country this summer.
In mid-May, Britain had put Portugal and 12 other countries and territories with low coronavirus caseloads on a “green list,” allowing British visitors to avoid a quarantine period on their return home from those locations.
As cases remain generally low in Britain, residents fatigued by a miserable winter and a four-month national lockdown began flocking to Portugal, because most of the other green-listed places were either not accepting tourists or were not already favored destinations for British travelers. The process still involved multiple forms and P.C.R. virus tests, whose costs could total hundreds of dollars.
The decision to move the country off the green list was a “safety-first approach,” Grant Shapps, Britain’s transport secretary, told the BBC on Thursday.
Portugal had remained on Britain’s green list even as the rate of positive coronavirus cases there rose 37 percent over the past two weeks, and British fans poured into the city of Porto to see two of England’s top soccer teams, Chelsea and Manchester United, face off in the Champions League final last Saturday. (Chelsea won.)
Officials did not add any new countries to the green list, dealing a blow to Spain, which had hoped to be added after seeing its virus numbers improve. Britain was the largest source of overseas travelers to Spain before the pandemic, accounting for 18 million of almost 84 million foreign visitors in 2019.
The announcement disappointed British visitors who had already booked trips to Portugal, or hoped for wider travel in Europe. It also dismayed a travel industry that has suffered in the pandemic.
The decision not to add countries to the green list “is a total disaster for the already fragile travel industry and is likely to lead to further airline failures and many more job losses,” Brian Strutton, acting general secretary of the British Airline Pilots Association, said in a statement. “Our airlines need this summer season if they are to survive.”
In Portugal, vendors had been excited to welcome back tourists, typically a major financial boost for the country. But some people had grumbled about foreign visitors not following local restrictions, including outdoor mask-wearing and a 10:30 p.m. curfew.