Travel quarantine rules: Thousands of Britons scramble to return home from Portugal and Hungary

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Tens of thousands of British holidaymakers are facing yet another scramble to get home before new quarantine rules on international travel come into force.

They have until 4am on Saturday to arrive back in England or race 14-days self-isolation after Grant Shapps said on Thursday that Portugal, Hungary, French Polynesia and Reunion were being removed from the quarantine exemptions list “to keep everyone safe”.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has also advised against all but essential travel.

The Azores and Madeira, the two autonomous regions of Portugal, are staying on the exemption list. The Transport Secretary tweeted that Sweden will also be added to the list – meaning travellers entering England from there will not have to quarantine.

Travel rules shifting

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There have been reports of the cost of flights back to the UK from Portugal rising up to £600. Some complained on Twitter they had been unable to change their bookings and were effectively “stuck” in the country.

Isabelle Brett, 20, from Essex, said in a video posted online before she managed to secure a flight home: “We were on the beach when we found out about the new regulations. Flights were completely gone in seconds. I must admit it was a very, very stressful situation.”

Portugal was only added to the travel corridor on 22 August, when the Portuguese president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa welcomed the “great news”. Scotland and Wales have already removed mainland Portugal from their lists.

The country reported 646 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday – it’s highest total since late April. Hungary ad seen a 192 per cent increase in new cases in a week.

Cancelling holidays

Jet2 has cancelled its flights to Portugal in September. TUI said it was cancelling holidays until the end of the month.

Gloria Guevara, the president and chief executive of the World Travel and Tourism Council, said: “Taking Portugal and Hungary off the exception list has left many families in a race against time to find flights and get home to avoid going into 14 days of isolation or cancel their already made plans.

“This depressingly familiar situation is a major body blow to consumer confidence to travel.”

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