Portugal will be removed from England's mandatory quarantine list this week - but travel still isn't permitted

Though it's been removed from the red list, travel to and from Portugal is not currently permitted unless for essential purposes (Photo: Shutterstock)

The Department of Transport has announced that Portugal will be removed from England's so-called travel 'red list' from 4am on Friday 19 March.

The removal of a travel ban means that anyone arriving into an airport in England from Portugal will no longer be required to undergo mandatory quarantine in a hotel.

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Previously, travellers were forced to pay for a designated quarantine hotel, costing £1,700 for the full 10 days of isolation.

'Reduced' risk of Covid variants

In a statement, the Department of Transport said Portugal, including the Azores and Madeira, had been removed from the red list owing to the "reduced" risk of a coronavirus variant being imported from the country.

However, both the UK and Portugal currently have restrictions on all but essential travel.

In the UK, travel abroad is only permitted in exceptional circumstances, such as if visiting a dying relative. The earliest date at which foreign travel may be permitted is 17 May.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps warned last week that there were "lots of questions" about how safe foreign travel will be in the coming months, telling the public that it was too early to book a holiday abroad.

In Portugal, meanwhile, a ban on private or commercial flights to or from the UK has been extended until the end of March, with only flights "of a humanitarian nature" between the countries permitted to go ahead. 

Countries being added to the red list

As Portugal leaves the red list on Friday, several countries will be added to it - Ethiopia, Oman, Somalia and Qatar.

Commercial and private planes to and from Ethiopia, Oman and Qatar will be banned from Friday in an attempt to mitigate the prospect of imported coronavirus variants.

Arrivals from these countries will subsequently have to pay to stay in a UK quarantine hotel, and must take two coronavirus tests while self-isolating.

The addition of Qatar to the travel ban list may have a wider impact on other travellers, with the airport a popular stop-off for people travelling to the UK from countries in Australasia and Asia.