'It's not all about holidays, I miss my family abroad'

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image captionBritish tourists flocked to Portugal when restrictions first eased

This week, Portugal was moved to the UK's amber travel list, which means the list of potential holiday destinations for Brits right now has got even smaller.

From Tuesday, if you travel there you'll have to quarantine for 10 days on your return, something many people can't justify.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps says the government's decision is a "safety first approach" to "give us the best chance of unlocking domestically"

But not everyone desperate to get abroad is doing it for a sunny beach or golden tan - some just want to see their family.

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Steven is one of them. He and his brother David haven't seen each other for two years because of lockdown.

image copyrightDavid Dale
image captionStephen's brother David with his wife Claire and daughters Elsie and Evelyn

"My brother and his wife both teach in Bangkok in Thailand and they normally come back every six months, at Christmas or in the summer - or we go over to see them.

"Four years ago they had their daughter Elsie and it was great as we got to see her, but a year ago they had their daughter Evelyn and we haven't been able to meet our little niece yet," he tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

Not just that - Steven has someone he desperately wants David to meet - his seven-month-old daughter Dolly.

image copyrightDavid
image captionDolly Joan Dale was born last year

"Neither of us have met our nieces in person and been able to form a relationship with them, we've only been able to meet over FaceTime, which is not the same.

"It's such a shame but hopefully my brother and his wife will be able to meet our daughter very soon and we can meet theirs," he says.

'I'm losing hope'

Chris knows what it's like to only see your loved ones through a dodgy FaceTime connection.

His girlfriend moved to Dubai in September last year, and he's only been able to see her once since then.

They were meant to be heading to Portugal next month, but have had to cancel their trip now it's no longer on the green list.

"It's really tough, we talk on Zoom nearly every day and message when we're not working.

"But I'm losing hope. We had planned to see each other at the start of July but since the changes were announced it's become a lot more challenging," he says.

image copyrightChris
image captionChris and his girlfriend Karolina

"The clocks going forward has made it easier to keep in contact, but during the winter months it was hard trying to plan what we were doing in our days - with my social life in Worcester and hers in Dubai - so that we had time to chat."

Chris says he worries about booking anywhere or being abroad and it going on the red travel list, as he says he wouldn't be able to afford to pay for a quarantine hotel in the UK when he came back.

"[Dubai's rules] are a lot simpler in comparison to the UK, I'd be happy to do the 10-day quarantine as long as it doesn't go red."

image copyrightJoe
image captionJoe says he feels like people with families living abroad feel "forgotten"

Joe is someone else who was watching Thursday's travel announcement eagerly.

His partner's family live in Barcelona in Spain, and the couple haven't seen them for a year and a half. Since lockdown has eased in the UK, they've found things harder.

He says: "We're seeing all these families being reunited, which is brilliant. We love to see that across the country.

"But it feels as though those people with families abroad have just almost been forgotten about really."

Joe and his girlfriend would be willing to travel while Spain is on the amber list, but due to the nature of their jobs, they wouldn't be able to quarantine on return.

'Give mum and dad a hug'

Joe is "really close" with his in-laws, and pre-pandemic would visit them every few months.

Now all they're able to do are Zoom calls, but he says it's not the same as meeting up in person.

"All my girlfriend wants to do is give her mum and dad a hug. And she can't do that.

"It's really, really getting her down and getting me down as well, to be honest."

Joe, as well and Chris and Steve, were disappointed by the lack of eased travel restrictions on Thursday.

He hopes some changes can be made.

"I understand why there's caution with everything going on, but I do think there needs to be some discussions had by the government in terms of what constitutes valid reasoning for going abroad.

"I think if we can open up this conversation about reuniting families, I think that will be a positive step towards alleviating a lot of the issues that we have."

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