Daily Mail Online: LONDON, England – Holidaymakers face a series of blows today – with fears Portugal could be axed from the UK’s ‘green list’ as hundreds of Chelsea fans were ordered to self-isolate after returning from the country’s Champions League final match.
And in another hit to Britons’ summer holiday plans the EU has refused to put the UK on its ‘white list’ for non-essential travel.
Ministers are finalising changes to the travel categories due to be announced this afternoon, with the hopes of millions of Britons hanging on the decisions.
There is speculation that Portugal – the only major destination on the list – could fall victim to the overhaul, after cases saw a worrying rise.
There are fears football supporters are behind the increase after hundreds of Chelsea fans returning from the Champions League final in Porto were ordered to self-isolate.
Fans who were on the flights organised by the club shared details of messages from the NHS Track and Trace app which contacts people who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
“Anyone else been captured by NHS track and trace since getting back from Porto?’ one supporter posted on Facebook. ‘Despite two vaccinations, a negative test and no symptoms I’ve got to self-isolate for 10 days …Deep Joy!”
Chelsea fans were offered a £199 travel package through the club on top of the cost of the match ticket, although some of their 6,000 supporters chose to travel to the country independently.
Manchester City supporters attending the same match and football fans celebrating Sporting Lisbon’s title win were also identified as potential causes, however the club said none of their fans on charter flights tested positive.
Fans have shared their surprise at news of the positive cases as they all had to four different tests throughout the trip.
Portugal’s government has kept bars and night clubs closed and still recommend people working from home but are now wary the increase could mean they lose their place on the UK’s “green list”.
Ahead of the announcement on the updated list later today it is believed places such as Malta, Jamaica and Grenada could be added to the roster.
Boris Johnson also hinted yesterday that more countries could be added to the ‘red list’ that means travellers must go into quarantine hotels.
Meanwhile, Labour has renewed demands for the “amber list” to be scrapped to prevent mutant strains from being imported.
And in another setback for travellers the EU has again delayed a decision on whether the UK will be added to its ‘white list’ of safe countries from which leisure travel is welcome.
Chelsea fans have been contacted by the NHS telling them to self-isolate amid reports of positive Covid tests among supporters returning from the Champions League final in Porto.
Passengers on at least three charter flights, organised by Chelsea to take supporters to and from the showpiece final within 24 hours, are believed to have been affected.
Fans have shared details on Facebook of contacts from the NHS Track and Trace service following their club’s stunning 1-0 victory over Manchester City in the final at the Estádio do Dragão stadium in front of 16,500 fans on Saturday night.
The tracing service calls and emails people who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
“Anyone else been captured by NHS track and trace since getting back from Porto?’ one disappointed supporter posted on Facebook. ‘Despite two vaccinations, a negative test and no symptoms I’ve got to self-isolate for 10 days …Deep Joy!”
News of positive tests among returning supporters comes after the regional health authority for the Porto area warned residents in or near fan zones at the weekend that they should ‘reduce contacts over the next two weeks’ and look out for COVID symptoms.
And Portugal now faces being removed from UK’s “green” travel list, which allows visitors to return from the country without have to undergo a mandatory 10-day period of isolation, with concerns that football may be fuelling infection rates.
The Champions League final is not the only major football event to have taken place in Portugal in recent weeks. There is also concern about widespread celebrations following Sporting Lisbon’s league title win, which led to mass gatherings in the centre of the capital.
Chelsea fans have gone online to share their experiences and concerns since returning to the UK on Sunday. One posted: “It seems someone who was on our return flight has tested positive.”
And another Blues supporter, who was on a different flight, said: “My daughter myself got alerted via nhs app this morning. Self-isolate for 7 days.”
A fan on a third flight said he had also been contacted by the NHS tracing service.
Chelsea’s supporters were offered travel packages through the club, which were priced at £199 per person, plus the cost of the match ticket, although some fans decided to travel to Portugal independently. The reports of positive tests relate to the club charter flights.
More than 12,000 English fans visited Porto for the weekend to watch the match with others simply there to soak up the atmosphere in the bars and restaurants by the Douro River in north west Portugal.
Fans have expressed surprise at reports of positive COVID tests because supporters were subjected to a strict testing regime before the match and on their return to the UK.
The UK’s status is now expected to be reviewed again on June 14.
If Portugal is moved on to the amber list after ministers meet today, people returning from the country will have to self-isolate for 10 days as well as paying for coronavirus tests.
It will be a huge kick in the teeth to Britons who have already booked a holiday in hot spots such as the Algarve, believing they will be able to return quarantine free.
And it will also be another damaging blow to the already struggling travel industry, which had hoped for more countries to be added to the green list this month.
Yesterday Portugal saw its highest daily number of cases since March. And the country currently has a case rate of around 37 infections per 100,000 people – higher than the UK’s rate of 34.5.
The final decision will be based on an assessment from the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC).
Asked about the green list yesterday, Mr Johnson said: “You’ve got to wait and see what the JBC says and what the recommendations are about travel.
“We’re going to try to allow people to travel, as I know that many people want to, but we’ve got to be cautious and we’ve got to continue to put countries on the red list, on the amber list, when that is necessary.
“I want you to know we will have no hesitation in moving countries from the green list to the amber list to the red list, if we have to do so.
“The priority is to continue the vaccination rollout, to protect the people of this country.”
Instead of being put on the amber list, ministers could opt to put Portugal on a new “watch list”.
This would allow holiday-makers time to react before the country is moved from green to amber.
In the past, holiday-makers have normally been given days – and sometimes up to a week – to return to the UK from countries where travel restrictions have been changed.
While Portugal is one of the countries facing being moved up the Government’s travel list scale, Malta could be one of the few countries moved down.
The Mediterranean island, a popular destination for British tourists, is currently on the amber list.
But with high vaccination levels and low infections it appears the most likely country to be moved down.
The Cayman Islands, Grenada, British Virgin Islands, Finland and some Caribbean islands are also among the possibles for the green list.
Cyprus’ deputy tourism minister yesterday said the country ‘absolutely deserves’ to be in the loosest category.
After today, the green list – which currently contains 12 countries – will not be reviewed until the week running up to June 28.
If there is not a significant expansion then, it will be July 19 or 20 before there is another chance for more destinations to make it on to the list.