Portugal has been downgraded from green to amber, with the travel industry and millions of holidaymakers now likely to have their plans thrown into disarray.
Many will have to change their holiday plans and tour operators and airlines will be hit by yet another financial and operational shock.
We have always known that there might be bumps in the road as travel restarted, but few expected that we risked such a dramatic policy shift quite so soon after international travel was opened on May 17.
The news and the mood music from the government suggests that it is looking more and more likely that we are facing a long uncertain summer.
In any case, we need to be prepared for unexpected shifts in policy. Here is our guide to what to do about your holiday now Portugal is on the amber list.
I’m in Portugal now, what do I do?
If your planned return date is after 4am on Tuesday, June 8, then you will have to self isolate for 10 days when you get back to the UK and pay for two additional PCR tests. To avoid this you would have to return to the UK before then. If you are on a package holiday, it is unlikely that a tour operator would be able to help you do this but, if you were travelling independently, the airline you are booked with may allow you to change your ticket – though you will have to pay any difference in the fare. Otherwise you will have to book and pay for a new flight – which may be difficult to find given the current situation.
I have a holiday booked to Portugal – will it be cancelled?
This depends not just on the change in traffic light colour – which is determined by the Department for Transport (DfT) – but also on advice published by the Foreign Office (FCDO). It’s not yet clear if the FCDO will advise against all but essential travel to Portugal – it has not done so yet. If it does then your tour operator must cancel the holiday and refund you within two weeks. There is no formal time limit in terms of how far ahead they must cancel in these circumstances, however most operate a few weeks in advance. If the FCDO doesn’t advise against travel then you don’t have a right to a refund, but most operators will allow you to postpone your trip to a later date. Do not cancel unilaterally without talking to your operator or you will lose most or all of your money.
Beachgoers make their way onto the sand at Falesia Beach in Vilamoura, Portugal
What if I’m travelling independently?
Independent travellers don’t have the same rights as those booked onto a package holiday. It is possible that your flight might be cancelled – in which case you are entitled to a refund – but many will continue to operate and if you decide not to fly you won’t be able to claim your money back. Fortunately, however, most airlines are now allowing passengers to postpone flights without additional charges.
If you have booked accommodation independently and don’t want to travel, then your rights will depend on the terms of your booking. You will only be able to cancel without penalty if that is what the contract allows you to do.
If you can’t get a refund, it is always worth seeing if you can rebook for a later date – but this may depend on the goodwill of the hotelier or villa owner.”
My destination has been put on a “watch list” – what do I do now?
When the traffic light system was confirmed back in May, the government suggested that destinations might be put on such a list to indicate that there was a risk that the colour rating would change. Frankly, the way the virus has panned out over the last few months, if the figures start going the wrong way for more than a few days, the prospects of them suddenly improving again are probably quite low. So, if you can’t or don’t want to travel to an amber destination, you might decide to change your holiday to avoid the risk – though, again, do not cancel unilaterally.
I am currently in a country which has been rated red. What do I do now?
If you return to the UK after the date set for the red listing then unfortunately you will have to pay for hotel quarantine on arrival in Britain.
I have a holiday booked to a destination which has been rated red. What happens now?
All packages to red zone destinations must be cancelled and full refunds offered.
What about travel insurance?
The vast majority of travel insurance policies are of little help in these circumstances and will not refund you for a holiday cancelled because of a change in DfT or FCDO advice.
Still not sure what to do for your summer holiday? Join the Telegraph’s live event on June 29 and our travel experts will answer all your questions. Book here (free for subscribers).
Do you have a question about travelling to countries on the green or amber list? Leave your question below
Amber/Green list travel questions