'Portugal to go amber and no green list additions'

Confirmed cases of Indian variant of Covid-19

Confirmed cases of Indian variant of Covid-19

Portugal will be removed from the green travel list with more countries added to the red list, as transport secretary Grant Shapps raised concerns of a new coronavirus mutation and rising cases.

"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".

Speculation has gathered pace throughout the day, with the BBC reporting no additions to the green list at lunchtime and following up with unconfirmed reports Portugal would move to amber.

The government, meanwhile, is continuing to urge people to avoid non-essential travel to amber list countries.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said it was "a hard decision" and Portugal was downgraded because the government wants to give the United Kingdom "the best possible chance of unlocking domestically" on 21 June.

More significantly, according to data published on GISAID, 68 cases of the Delta variant of concern have been identified in Portugal, including cases of the Delta variant with an additional, potentially detrimental, mutation.

Reports also note "a strong expectation" more countries will be added to the red list today.

At the moment only 12 countries are included on the green list, including Portugal, Gibraltar, Australia and New Zealand, meaning holidaymakers can visit these destinations without having to quarantine on their return.

"There are several countries which meet the criteria to be on the green list so this is clearly a politically charged decision rather than one based on data".

Those returning from amber countries must also book and pay for day 2 and day 8 COVID-19 travel tests for when they return to the United Kingdom; only the day 2 test is required for those returning from green countries.

People returning to the United Kingdom require proof of a negative test, taken within 3 days before the service on which they will arrive in England departs.

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The government is also announcing that as part of a limited trial, from 8 June, direct flights will be permitted to England from countries on the "red list" that were previously subject to flight bans, so long as they arrive at dedicated terminals at Heathrow and Birmingham airports.

Passengers flying to Portugal on 17 May, when it was on the "green list". Our top priority is protecting the health of the public and our enhanced borders regime, including mandatory hotel quarantine for arrivals from red list countries, is helping minimise the risk of new variants being imported into the UK.

The country, along with 11 others, was rated green by United Kingdom ministers just three weeks ago.

"Ministers need to scrap the "amber list" urgently, to limit travellers reaching the United Kingdom and ensure that Border Force have the resources they need to manage arrivals from the "green list" safely".

"There's also concern about a so-called Nepal variant which is kind of a mix of the Delta variants and the Kent (Alpha) variant".

BALPA's acting general secretary Brian Strutton said: "This decision is a total disaster for the already fragile travel industry and is likely to lead to further airline failures and many more job losses".

"Any shred of public confidence is in tatters and the traffic light system seems stuck on red. The government must look at the evidence and stop this illogical, over-cautious approach, that is killing a once-thriving industry".

"You have got to follow the data".

The news came on the same day the Government said a further 5,274 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus had been recorded in the United Kingdom as of 9am on Thursday, the highest single-day figure since March 26.

"You've got to wait and see what the JBC says and what the recommendations are about travel", Boris Johnson said on Wednesday.

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