Mirror Online: LONDON, England – Holidaymakers racing to get home to the UK have just 16 hours to touch down to avoid quarantining.
Huge lines have been forming in airports in Portugal this weekend after Grant Shapps placed the country on the amber list on Thursday.
The Transport Secretary gave sun worshipping Brits a small lifeline in the form of a four day grace period to get back.
The announcement caused plane tickets for flights landing before 4am to rocket immediately, while testing facilities in Portugal have been rushed off their feet.
Faro Airport in the Algarve has been a particularly overrun, with photos from across the weekend showing long queues snaking across the departure hall.
Things got so overloaded yesterday that lines stretched out of the airport doors into the sun.
Thirty-nine flights are scheduled to depart from Faro Airport in the Algarve for the UK on Monday, nearly double the usual total.
Ryanair is charging £285 for a flight from Faro to Bournemouth on Monday, but just £17 on Wednesday.
EasyJet flights from Faro to Gatwick are £227 on Monday and £53 on Tuesday.
Vaccine centre volunteer Angela Mantana arrived in Portugal a day before it was reclassified.
Because she was unable to get PCR tests or ‘suitable’ flights back to the East Midlands, she will have to self-isolate when she gets home.
It means she cannot provide jabs at her local centre, or provide her aunt – who is shielding – her daily medication.
Asked how difficult it has been to get back to the UK, she told the BBC: “It’s almost been impossible.
“There were no tests available and the flights weren’t suitable to get us back to the East Midlands.”
She added: “The implications are we are volunteers at a vaccine centre and on the Friday when we return we were supposed to be going in so we’ve had to let those people down.”
The quarantine cut-off is at 4am on Tuesday (Image: Zed Jameson/SIPA/REX/Shutterstock)Faro Airport has been very busy these past few days (Image: SOLARPIX.COM)
One woman said she paid £300 extra for a flight from Portugal to avoid quarantining at home for 10 days.
Speaking at Gatwick Airport on Monday, Ana Pacheco, 28, from Islington, north London, who was on holiday near Porto, said: “I was a little annoyed and upset but there’s nothing I can do because I really needed to go to Portugal.
“I lost money on this trip, about £300 extra, because I was due to come back tomorrow evening, so it is quite annoying.
“I think there should have been extra time added on for us to get home, at least a week would have been better.”
A couple arriving in the UK from Portugal said they paid £800 for a flight to avoid quarantining at home, leaving them under “extreme stress”.
Alan and Lisa Pechey, from Cambridge, who were on holiday in Lisbon, had been due to return to London Stansted Airport on Tuesday, but paid £400 each to book a flight to Gatwick.
Speaking at the airport on Monday, Mrs Pechey, 66, told the PA news agency: “It was really expensive and I think the Government was totally unfair to throw that at us on Thursday because it really spoiled our holiday, totally.
“We had flown out on Monday for a relaxing break, but from Thursday onwards we were under extreme stress.
“My main problem was the stress, because we didn’t want to quarantine.
“I was pretty furious because they should have told us to watch out if we were going to Portugal so everyone would have known.”
Passengers are also flooding into Heathrow today (Image: Jonathan Buckmaster)
Mike Indian endured ‘chaotic’ scenes at Faro Airport yesterday when he had to push past other travellers after officials told him he would need to run to make his flight to London Luton.
He told Radio 4’s Today programme he made the plane with just five minutes to spare.
Many holidaymakers and travel firms expressed anger when the announcement on Portugal was made last Thursday, as it came just 17 days after the ban on international leisure travel was lifted.
The Department for Transport said the situation in the country “required swift action to protect the gains made with the vaccine rollout”.
It stated that the positivity rate for coronavirus tests in Portugal had nearly doubled since the travel lists were first created four weeks earlier.
The DfT added that 68 cases of the Indian mutation, which is also known as the Delta variant, have been identified in Portugal.
Separate Test and Trace figures show 200 arrivals from Portugal were tested between May 6 and May 19.
Three of those people tested positive for coronavirus.