'We are just devastated' - Scots holidaymakers react to news of Portugal moving to amber list

A bar owner who was due to fly to Portugal with his partner for her birthday is one of many Scots who have spoken of the “frustration” and “disappointment” felt after news of the country moving to the amber list.

Paul Wilson was looking forward to a romantic city break in Lisbon with his partner Molly for her 40th after 18 months of lockdown in Glasgow.

The pair were due to fly out on Wednesday next week but, after Thursday’s announcement on Portugal being moved to the amber list, they have decided to cancel their much-anticipated trip.

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Many holidaymakers have had to cancel their trip to Portugal since news of the country moving to the amber list.

The 40-year-old, who owns several bars in Glasgow including Thorniewood, had only booked accommodation for the couple three days ago and secured a rare holiday break from his busy shifts in hospitality.

"We are just devastated,” Mr Wilson told The Scotsman.

“There is no way we can go ahead with the holiday because neither of us can afford to take the time off work to self-isolate when we come back to Scotland.

"Because of how hard hospitality has been hit it’s really just been me working at the bar, so it was a push to get the time off. Money is really tight at the moment so this is honestly devastating.”

The lagoons of the Algarve coastline.

Arrivals from amber destinations are required to self-isolate for ten days upon entering the country and then take two post-arrival PCR tests.

The amber regulations for Portugal come into effect on Tuesday next week following the UK government's latest review of international travel.

Mr Wilson said the short notice means he will struggle to sort a refund for his trip.

He had also pre-booked three different tests – costing about £80 each - that are required under Covid regulations when travelling abroad.

The lagoons of the Algarve coastline

“Because the announcement has come just days before we’re meant to be going, there’s no way we can get a refund for the trip and accommodation,” he said.

“We also have a young boy, Bertie, and had arranged child care.

“I thought the government was going to give us at least two weeks' notice, so just a matter of days before rules change again is honestly shocking.

“It makes me think that it’s a politically-led decision rather than based on actual data.

The lagoons of the Algarve coastline

“Molly works in property and she’s not going to dig into her annual leave to just spend it self-isolating, so we’ve made the tough decision to just cancel it all together.

"I really feel for the people who have just flown there in the last couple of days, this uncertainty from the government is really frustrating for people.”

Claire Glen, 36, from Falkirk had also made plans to spend five nights at a friend’s villa in Algarve, Portugal, for her partner’s 50th birthday.

"We are gutted,” she said, speaking shortly after the government’s announcement.

Ms Glen had recently given up work as a carer and now works in hospitality full-time.

She said she would not be able to afford the ten days of self-isolating required if she went ahead with her Portugal holiday.

“We have to cancel as I can’t afford more tests and I am working full time, so I can’t afford to quarantine.

"I am in the process of seeing about a refund.

“We are gutted though, we were looking forward to some sunshine.”

Speaking shortly after the announcement Americo Rodriguez, who owns Taste of Portugal at the Brig O' Tay in Newport-on-Tay, said: “I know quite a few people who go back and forth from Scotland to Portugal, where I am from, but I know that none of them booked any travel this summer because the situation is just so uncertain.”

Yesterday saw Portugal confirm a further 724 coronavirus cases and one death, compared to 4,420 cases in the UK.

However, Portugal has a much smaller population, with around 10.17 million people compared to 66.8 million in the UK.

It is also understood no new countries will be added to the green list.

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