Woman’s hopes of family reunion ‘crushed’ by Portugal rule change
A woman due to be reunited with her family for the first time in 18 months has said her hopes were “crushed” at the last minute by the Government’s removal of Portugal from the travel green list.
It was announced on Thursday that the country would be moving to amber status, meaning that people returning to the UK must self-isolate at home for 10 days as part of coronavirus restrictions.
“Portugal’s status changing so last-minute has made everyone stressed,” Alexandra Teixeira, a retail worker from London, told the PA news agency.
“I was planning to go on Monday and decided to cancel it because Portugal got moved to the amber list.
“I work in retail so quarantining at home for 10 days after coming back isn’t really an option.”
Ms Teixeira, 24, said she is “sad and frustrated” at not being able to see her family after such a long time apart.
She told PA: “I haven’t seen my family in one and a half years and when things start looking up, there’s a glimmer of hope, it gets crushed in seconds.
“In regards to flights, because it was such short notice I didn’t even try to get a refund; instead I asked for a voucher which was emailed to me soon after I applied for it… (I am) curious to see if I’ll be able to get a refund for all the tests that were bought.
“Not everyone can book holidays last minute so people need a couple of weeks’ notice or something, not three or four days.
“Everyone that works in retail – I’m sure other sectors are the same – needs to plan their holidays weeks if not months in advance.”
An Oxfordshire resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said they were unable to obtain a refund for booked PCR tests.
“We can’t be away from ‘life’ for almost three weeks, also we can’t afford the extra day five test or day eight test,” they said.
The 37-year-old added: “We had prepared to cancel the trip if it was amber – we have had it booked way before the traffic light system – and booked with BA as they will cancel or change the flight, so I’m not at all angry about that.
“It’s just these private testing centres that refuse refunds for tests that won’t be used… why can’t we just cancel and get a refund?
“They say they will give you a credit voucher but we are not going away for at least another year, and who knows what the rules will be then? It just takes advantage.”
Simon Smith, who is currently in Portugal, said his family have been racing to find Covid tests in order to get a return flight to the UK on Saturday morning.
The property developer, from Stamford, Lincolnshire, who owns a villa in the Lagos area, said he had visited five medical centres and the main hospital to try to get his family tested.
Mr Smith, who is abroad with his wife and two children, aged two and four, said: “There were about 35 people in the queue, all British, and they told us ‘The first 15 are OK, but the rest of you might as well go home because we don’t have enough tests’.
“I thought the whole idea of the green list was that they were going to monitor it and give people plenty of time and notice to get flights and sort out problems with testing.”
The family have been told the airport has a small amount of Covid tests available, so plan to turn up for their flight five hours early in the hope of getting one.
“If we can’t get that, we can’t fly,” said Mr Smith. “And then we are going to be stuck here, and then have to face 10 days’ quarantine.
“I have meetings on Friday, I can’t afford 10 days’ quarantine. It is a joke.”
Portugal is not the only country that has moved within the traffic light rating system.
Afghanistan, Bahrain, Costa Rica, Sudan, and Trinidad and Tobago have also been placed on the red list, meaning people arriving in the UK from those nations must stay in a quarantine hotel for 11 nights.
The changes come into effect at 4am on Tuesday.