British tourists voiced their fury today at holidays to Portugal this month being thrown into doubt as the country’s government held crunch talks on Covid rules.
Portugal had been expected to lift its ban on European tourists entering – including Britons – from Sunday, but there are now reports this might not be until May 30.
The move would mean Britons with holidays booked there next week – to coincide with the UK’s own travel ban being lifted on Monday – face having them cancelled.
It would also block thousands of football fans who have booked tickets for the Champions League final in Porto between Chelsea and Manchester City on May 29.
Among the tourists worried about their upcoming holiday are Sue and Sean Flynn, both 55 and from Leeds, who are hoping to fly to Faro with Ryanair next Friday.
Sue Flynn, 55, from Leeds, is hoping to fly on holiday to Faro with Ryanair next Friday. She spoke to Charlie Stayt and Naga Munchetty on BBC Breakfast this morning
Mrs Flynn told BBC Breakfast this morning: ‘We’ve booked with Ryanair to go on a flight and we’ve booked the accommodation as well, my husband and I.
‘We’ve been trying since last year really to get away. We have a holiday business in Kalkan in Turkey, and we’ve not been able to get there since October.
‘We’ve had four flights cancelled, and when we thought that Portugal was going on the green list, we thought, well, we’ll change to there.
‘But unfortunately this has come along, to throw a curveball, and here we are again looking at potentially cancelled flights – it’s really frustrating.’
Mrs Flynn said she and her husband have both had their two Covid-19 vaccines and are ‘very, very careful’ having been shielding for much of the pandemic.
She added: ‘We’ve been used to taking our own precautions and looking after ourselves. The flight, I believe, is as safe as a flight can be.
‘We have self-catering accommodation. So as far as I’m concerned we can look after ourselves. But I do understand the overall concerns for everyone flopping off to a holiday.’
Mrs Flynn continued: ‘I think we’ve all got used to not knowing, and it really takes away the shine off going on holiday and being able to look forward to it.
‘Instead you’re worrying and wondering – is it actually going to happen?
‘It may or it may not, and we’ll just have to live with that if it doesn’t unfortunately, and try and get refunds from the operators that we’ve booked with.’
Other tourists took to Twitter to share their concerns about holidays this month to Portugal. One said: ‘I have just changed holiday from Lanzarote, now going to Portugal, but it’s saying not open for holiday. We go May 30, very worried now.’
Another tweeted: ‘I’m flying to Faro next Thursday. Is holiday likely to be cancelled due to recent news about Portugal? How far in advance will you make a decision.’
A third tourist hoping for a holiday in Portugal said they had got ‘sucked in by green list this and that’.
The Champions League final had previously been due to be held in Istanbul but was moved to Portugal following talks between UK ministers and UEFA organisers after Turkey was added to England’s travel red list.
The final is between Chelsea and Manchester City and around 6,000 fans from each club planned to attend.
However, officials in Lisbon suggested the Portuguese cabinet talks about Covid concerned extending the country’s official ‘state of calamity’ and would not change the lifting of the travel ban.
They said it related to its ability to introduce emergency Covid legislation and would not include tourism, which they said was still expected to be given the green light from Sunday.
A formal announcement clarifying the situation is expected today.
It came as the BBC reported that the Portuguese government will require UK football fans to fly in and out of the country on the day of the match.
Fans will also have to stay in a ‘bubble’ while in the city.
The country’s cabinet affairs minister, Mariana Vieira da Silva, said: ‘Those who come to the final of the Champions League will come and return on the same day, with a test done, in a bubble situation, on charter flights.
People enjoy the sunshine on the beach at Nazare in Portugal in August 2016
The Champions League final in Porto is between Chelsea and Manchester City and it is hoped 6,000 fans from each club will attend. Pictured: Man City and Chelsea fans at Wembley in 2019
‘There will be two fan zones and from there they will be moved to the stadium and from the stadium to the airport, being in Portugal less than 24 hours.’
Air fares from London and Manchester to Porto soared after the final was moved there.
On Friday May 21, Ryanair had seats on an early flight from Manchester to Porto for £10.
A week later, the day before the final, the same flight cost £288 as seats started being snapped up.
Other flights before or on the day of the final were going for £300 or more.