Portugal: South Londoners hit out at quarantine ‘madness’

A number of Britons have vented their frustration at having to quarantine at home after arriving back in the UK from Portugal.

Travellers who landed in the UK after 4am on Tuesday, including several who spoke out from south London, are required to self-isolate at home for 10 days due to the Government’s decision to remove the country from its green travel list.

Among them was Kathy Kirby, 64, from Battersea, in south-west London, had to pay £589 in total for flights after she was unable to download the relevant documentation on Monday evening.

She also had to purchase multiple coronavirus tests costing hundreds of pounds and a hotel room, which was the “straw that broke the camel’s back”.

Ms Kirby said: “I’m not very happy because I made attempts to get back before the deadline for quarantine but unfortunately it didn’t work.

“I was very disappointed, I was only going on a five-day break anyway but it was cut back to three days, unfortunately I’ve ended up spending more money to get back.

“It caused me a lot of inconvenience, so clearly I’m not terribly happy about this situation especially as I’ve had both vaccinations.

“I wouldn’t have thought I would have to go through 10 days of quarantine, what’s the point of having vaccinations if we end up having to quarantine?”

Kevin Power, 69, from Croydon, south-east London, had also booked to arrive on Monday, but did not complete the correct paperwork and was removed from his flight.

He said: “It’s going to impact my family, the kids, my wife, she has to stop in and get food and things like that.

“It’s beginning to hit me now, the result for me was getting on that flight and getting over here.”

Mr Power added: “I’ve had two vaccinations, I was tested on Thursday last week and I was only out of the country for three days. Madness.

“I’m not impressed, it’s all right having systems if they work, but if people can’t access things or get stuck with a problem, there’s nobody there to give them guidance.”

Yasmin Iqbal, 31, from Crawley, West Sussex, who had been in Porto for three days to visit her grandmother, who has cancer, along with her mother Khay and nine-month-old daughter.

Speaking at Gatwick Airport on Tuesday morning, she told the PA news agency: “I’m due to finish maternity leave and go back to work, but I’ve had to delay that for a week.

“She’s (her daughter) due to go to nursery, that’s all had to be moved, we looked at flights to come back on Monday, it was £500 or more, as soon as you click on it, it just goes.

“It was just no option but to stick with what we were doing.”

Ms Iqbal added: “We booked it a long time ago, we went to see family because my mum’s Portuguese, so we had family there, my grandma’s not very well so we weren’t sure if it would be the last time we could see her.”

She went on to criticise the “ridiculous” and “completely confusing” rules, saying it was “so difficult” to get back before 4am.

Ms Iqbal said: “I’ve now got to sit at home with my daughter for 10 days when I’ve been in a country that’s probably safer than this country.”

Also affected were newlyweds Steve Wilson, 31, and his wife Maddie, 30, who were on a honeymoon in Porto.

They said: “We hadn’t planned to quarantine, we were quite excited about the fact we were able to get away, but we always knew it was a risk.

“We were in Porto at the time when we saw the news coming through and everyone was messaging asking what we were going to do.

“We just decided to come back when we originally planned and just quarantine.”

They added: “It’s unlucky, at the time we were like ‘Oh god, shall we rebook the flights?’ and then we thought just stay and enjoy the sunshine. It was annoying at the time.”

The couple said that it had been “cheaper” to pay for coronavirus tests and accept quarantining at home than pay for a flight to the UK ahead of the deadline.

Other travellers, who flew in from Faro, have spoken of having to rebook flights after planning to arrive on Monday.

Surrey Comet | Kingston