Portugal: Brits 'can't wait' to go on holiday as travel abroad allowed from May 17

ITV News Europe Editor James Mates reports from the Algarve on 'the run to the sun'

Holidaymakers were seen with big smiles as they boarded a plane from Gatwick to Portugal, with foreign travel finally allowed again in England and Wales.

Portugal is one of 12 countries on England's green list, meaning Brits arriving from the country will not need to quarantine and will only be required to take one Covid test upon landing.

There was a "surge" in bookings to the European country earlier this month, after the announcement of England's green, amber and red list, according to travel agency Thomas Cook.

With the foreign travel ban lifted on Monday, May 17, one excited Brit boarding a flight to Portugal told ITV News: "I can't wait, can't wait. I think this is about the fourth flight we booked to try to get out of the country, so I just can't wait to finally be on our way.

'Can't wait, can't wait to get to the sun. Just can't wait,' said an excited holidaymaker boarding a flight to Portugal

Still in disbelief at the thought of being able to go on holiday abroad, the traveller said: "Once we get there, I'm still waiting for something to go wrong.

He continued: "Can't wait. Can't wait, can't wait to get to the sun."

Asked if he was worried about being stuck in Portugal if restrictions changed suddenly, he said: "There's worse places I could be stuck."

Asked if he had been put off from going abroad due to the pandemic. He said: "No. Not enough to stop us."

This couple have been waiting for months to go on holiday and had been cancelling their flights up until now:

Another couple, who were among the first Brits to fly off on holiday as lockdown eased, said they had been waiting for three months to go on holiday, and had been repeatedly cancelling flights they booked.

One of the pair said: "I've been raring to go since early this year now. I'm really looking forward to it. It's wonderful.

"We go there every year, we go lots of times. It's amazing. It's getting back to a bit of normality, right?"

Do you have any reservations about travelling abroad? 'Of course,' this couple said.

Another couple said they were "looking forward to seeing some sun and seeing the beach again", but admitted they had concerns about travelling during the pandemic.

But they said: "Having been vaccinated, having both our vaccinations, we feel we're quite safe and I think safe for other people as well."

Couple couldn't get into Spain, so booked a flight to Portugal

Two holidaymakers said it was "absolutely amazing" to get out and get some sunshine, with one of the pair saying he was keen to get his "tan topped up".

They explained their original plan had been to go to Spain, but because they were not able to enter the country under rules set by the Spanish government, they booked a flight to Portugal.

The couple said they hope to be able to enter Spain via Portugal. Despite the diversion, they said they are are still excited about "heading towards the sunshine, which is the main thing".

Easyjet CEO Johan Lundgren says UK government is being 'inconsistent' by advising against travel to amber countries

Lockdown eases on Monday, with indoor mixing allowed and a range of businesses allowed to reopen. But prime minister Boris Johnson urged people to proceed "with a heavy dose of caution" as an Indian variant has been identified in the UK.

Health secretary Matt Hancock also told Times Radio that people "should not travel to amber or red list countries unless it’s absolutely necessary, and certainly not for holiday purposes".

But Johan Lundgren, CEO of budget airline Easyjet, told ITV News he thought the UK government is being "inconsistent" by advising against travel to amber countries after devising the traffic light system.

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He repeated what he said on ITV's Peston show earlier this month that a study by Yale University shows most of Europe can be put into the low risk green category.

Matt Hancock has argued that swathes of people in many European countries have not been vaccinated. But the Easyjet boss said: "The metric to look at is the rate of infection in those countries, and the variants of concern, and the vaccinate rate here."

He said the risk of travelling to many countries Europe is not more than the risk of travelling to Cornwall or Bournemouth, where beaches are likely to be overcrowded.

Eastjet boss says it 'doesn't make sense' for people to go to overcrowded beaches in Cornwall or Bournemouth when there are 'equally low risk countries in Europe'

He added that the testing required for amber destinations is "still very, very expensive", with the UK government as "one of the few governments" in Europe still charging VAT on tests.

Mr Lundgren believes expensive PCR tests will be phased out for lateral flow tests, saying it is "exactly what is happening now in a number of European countries".

Speaking about the safety measures on Easyjet planes, he said passengers are required to wear masks, aeroplanes are being disinfected every 24 hours and HEPA filters to refresh the air every few minutes.