Portugal: Holidaymakers discuss Green List changes

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On Thursday evening, the Government left thousands of holidaymakers aghast at the news Portugal would be removed from the UK green list. Data from Huq Industries, a mobility research business, shows that around 221,064 Britons jetted off into the Portuguese sun between May 17 and May 31.

One of these was business strategist Lisa Johnson, who was travelled to the then-green list country for a business trip and “quick sunshine break for three days”.

While Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps points to a rise in COVID-19 cases in Portugal as the reason why the nation lost its green status, Ms Johnson told Express.co.uk she felt “safer than in a supermarket in the UK” throughout her time in Portugal.

While the traffic light system was still fairly new to UK travellers, Ms Johnson says she was not “nervous” about the experience ahead of her.

Though she notes “the rules do change frequently without any announcement”, the business strategist felt prepared enough to follow the rules for travel to a green list country.

“I wasn’t nervous and am getting used to the Covid tests,” she said.

“I knew what I had to do but the rules on the government website had changed recently so that I only needed an antigen test to get back into the UK.

“I had booked a PCR test as that had been the case previously.”

Once in the country, Ms Johnson was impressed by the number of Covid-safe measures being taken not only by businesses but by local people too.

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“It felt very safe with people even wearing masks outside a lot of the time,” she explained.

“It was so lovely to be able to experience some sunshine once more too.”

What’s more, her hotel was on hand to help ensure she met all of the correct testing requirements for her return to the UK.

“My hotel helped arrange the test – they were great,” she said.

“The tests themselves were so much more thorough than in the UK.

“The testers were dressed fully in PPE and the test hurt more in the nose.”

However, according to Ms Johnson, her main concerns came once back on home soil.

“What was interesting was when I came back into Heathrow airport and showed all my documents – I’m organised and had it all ready – the [border force worker] asked me why I was away,” she explained.

“I said for work and leisure.

“He said, ‘You’re not really supposed to go for leisure’.

“When I told him that I absolutely could because it was a green country he shrugged and said ‘well kind of’.

“It worries me that even the airport staff don’t seem to be clear on the rules.”

Express.co.uk contacted Heathrow Airport for comment this subject. The airport explained: “The border at Heathrow is managed by Border Force officials, a division of the Home Office and not by Heathrow.”

According to the Government website, Border Force are up-to-date on all of the latest travel guidelines.

“Border Force will be checking that arriving passengers have complied with current health measures, and passengers can help reduce delays by completing all necessary requirements before entering the country,” states the Gov.uk website.

“The Government is constantly trying to improve processes to make them as efficient as possible to minimise wait times and will be committing to increasing Border Force resources to manage increased demand.

“This includes deploying additional Border Force officers where high volumes of passengers are expected.”

Ms Johnson also believes the Government need to make the rules around travel to green and amber countries clearer for consumers.

“An easy checklist would help and the rules around amber are ridiculous,” she said.

“You can legally go to an amber country for any reason you like but there’s so much confusion because of government ‘guidance’.

“I wish that everything is just a bit clearer so everyone understands what they should or should not be doing.”

While the traveller may have concerns over the understanding of the traffic light system in the UK, it hasn’t dampened her enthusiasm to jet off abroad in the future.

Just one week later, before Portugal lost its green status, she jetted back off on another business trip to Portugal.

“I love to travel and not being able to during lockdown has been really hard for me as I work best when I’m away,” she said.

“I usually spend half my year travelling, so to be able to work and see the world at the same time once more is great.”

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