THE UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office has called on British travellers to respect the quarantine and travel rules while holidaying in Spain.
It comes after the Olive Press revealed British expats in Portugal are helping their compatriots in England skip quarantine by advising them to travel via Spain and lie about their movements.
Several expats and locals have been posting advice to prospective tourists online about how to circumvent the 14-day quarantine upon returning to the UK.
They are also offering to help them in their efforts by picking them up at Spanish airports and driving them across the border.
“It’s easy,” one expat wrote, “If you need airport transfer just send private message.”
In an attached image it reads: “Step 1: Fly from UK to Seville. Step 2: Take a bus from Sevilla to Algarve. Done!”
One local uploaded a similar graphic, writing: “Here are some obvious ways to go past this ridiculous travel ban.”
Meanwhile a tour company offers: “Don’t be afraid to be on the quarantine when you return from the Algarve…take the plane to Seville and we bring you to Algarve and take you back to Seville airport (SIC).”
The attached advert offers transfers for up to €499 for six people.
When quizzed by other expats about the legality of the offer, a representative replied: “I think it is a personal decision…how do they know where you have been?”
The owner of the company told the Olive Press he was acting within the law.
“It’s their responsibility,” he said, “It’s a way for them to have a great holiday in a very clean zone.
“In my district there are zero infections, the problem is in Lisbon only and I don’t interfere with British law… I have my opinion and that’s that, what I do is 100% legal.”
It comes after Portugal was left off of England’s list of so-called ‘travel corridors’, which allows holidaymakers to visit a country without having to self-isolate for 14 days upon returning home.
The list includes Spain, Germany and Italy.
It means any Brit wanting to visit Portugal and avoid quarantine upon returning would have to lie on their COVID-19 travel forms and say they are holidaying in Spain.
They would then have to lie again upon returning by claiming they had not visited a country excluded from the travel corridor list.
Portugal has seen a spike in cases in the Algarve and even more so in Lisbon, hence the travel corridor snub.
In fact the UK government is still warning against any non-essential travel to Portugal.
But the tourism industry is desperate to see some of the two million Brits who usually visit each year.
Home affairs minister Eduardo Cabrita previously said: “Portugal has better public health indicators and better pandemic response indicators than the United Kingdom.
“So there’s no reason, according to all the comparative criteria, for the existence of any application of quarantine rules on return to the United Kingdom.”
An FCO spokesperson told the Olive Press today: “Our Travel Advice puts British Nationals’ safety first. Travel Advice is designed to help people stay safe.
“Portugal is an important friend and partner who has welcomed many British tourists over many years. We want to see a return to normal international travel with Portugal, but we can only act once we are certain that that we can do so safely and responsibly.
“At the current time we are advising against travel to mainland Portugal. The requirement to self-isolate on return to the UK from Portugal remains in place, including those who have returned from Portugal by transiting through other countries.
“We call on all travellers to act responsibly in order to minimise the risk to UK public health of visitors importing infection.”
Visit https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/portugal for further information.