Portugal quarantine: Matt Hancock stumbles in tense Kay Burley grilling ‘Simple question!’

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Matt Hancock was confronted on whether the Government will soon re-add Portugal to the list of countries from which holidaymakers will need to quarantine upon their return. The UK has already reimposed restrictions on several European countries, sparking the outrage of British tourists forced to stay home for 14 days. Sky News presenter Kay Burley kicked off her questioning asking: “Should I go to Portugal tomorrow or will I have to quarantine when I come back?”

Mr Hancock said: “Well, what I’d say is that everybody has seen that we are prepared to take decisions to put individual countries back on the quarantine list if that’s what is necessary.

“We keep this constantly under review and then we announced the decision, usually on a Friday lunchtime. So people should look at the data but also only travel if they are prepared to quarantine.

“If the virus goes up when they’re in that country, unfortunately we do have to take these decisions to keep people here safe.”

But Ms Burley rejected the response, hitting back: “No, it’s not going to change between today and tomorrow, is it though, Health Secretary?

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“Here’s an opportunity for the Government to be ahead of the curve for my viewers, who are potentially going to Portugal tomorrow.

‘Will they be able to go without having to quarantine when they come back? Simple question.”

The Health Secretary replied: “And the simple answer is that we follow the data and we make these announcements in an organised way on a Friday lunchtime.”

The Sky News host intervened again: “So you don’t know. Well, that’s not true because when it came to Spain it was a Saturday.

“It’s very fluid. Are you saying that you don’t yet know?”

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Mr Hancock insisted the Government had been forced to take a swift decision on whether to reimpose quarantine restrictions on Spain after witnessing the rate of coronavirus infections spike within a matter of days.

But Ms Burley once again renewed her question, saying: “We have a limited time, Health Secretary, so please answer my question.

“If people are thinking about going to Portugal tomorrow, I’m sure you know by now, should they go or not? Or do you not yet know?”

The Tory frontbencher said: “We’re going too publish a further decision tomorrow having looked at the data and I’m not going to prejudge that.

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“I’m telling you the Government looks very carefully at the data and then makes these decisions and publishes them in an organised way and I’m sticking to that.”

But despite the lack of confirmation, British holidaymakers have been urged to make their way back to the UK as soon as possible if they want to avoid having to shield for 14 days.

Travel expert Simon Calder warned prices have already increased and told travellers to ensure they do not make their way back through either Paris and Amsterdam because of restrictions already in place there.

Mr Calder said: “Of course you want to hope for the best but if there’s a reason why you cannot self-isolate for two weeks when you come back – you’ve got to go to school or you’ve got to go to work – then I would be making plans to get out.

“That’s a lot easier said than done because the price of flights has gone through the roof. And you have to be really careful.

“Don’t take a connecting flight via Amsterdam or Paris because as soon as you step on the floor of one of these airports you are in for two weeks of quarantine.

“It’s a really stressful and potentially extremely expensive time for people.”

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