A "heated" cabinet meeting last week sealed Portugal’s relegation to the UK government’s amber list and prevented Malta joining the green list, it has been reported.
Citing senior government sources, The Times reports the UK’s Joint Biosecurity Centre was ready to recommend Malta and several other islands were fit to join the green list.
The Foreign Office is not currently advising against all but essential travel to Malta, several Greek islands and the Canary Islands.
Additionally, the paper reports transport secretary Grant Shapps, with support from the Treasury, argued for Portugal to be placed on the government’s green watchlist rather than being removed from the green list altogether.
Reporting to government in April, the Global Travel Taskforce recommended countries on the green list at risk of being downgraded be placed on a watchlist to give travellers clarity. Shapps subsequently hinted in the lead up to the resumption of international travel on 17 May that the watchlist warning period could be as long as two weeks.
In the end, it was announced on Thursday (3 June) that Portugal would be removed from the green list and placed on the amber list from 4am on Tuesday (8 June) leaving holidaymakers scrambling to get home to avoid quarantine, the exact situation the government just months earlier promised to avoid after the chaos of last summer’s travel corridor regime.