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Was Boris Johnson honeymooning in Portugal while it was on the amber list? 

Old news, truthfully retold. This week The Big Issue investigates social media claims that Boris Johnson broke quarantine rules to go on his honeymoon in Portugal

Every week in Fact/Fiction, The Big Issue examines spurious claims, questionable studies or debatable stories from the press to determine whether they are fact or fiction. This week The Big Issue investigates whether a viral tweet about Boris Johnson’s honeymoon plans showed evidence the Prime Minister had broken quarantine rules.

How it was told

As one of the main holiday destinations initially put on the green list in the UK government’s travel advice traffic light system, Portugal has led the way in discussions over the return of international travel.

For many holidaymakers looking to jet away to more exotic climes after 15 months spent in and out of lockdown, Portugal has been one of the main options. 

That may well have included the UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, if reports were to be believed.

The Prime Minister was accused on social media and some smaller media outlets of jetting off to Portugal while the country was on the amber list, but flouting quarantine rules that other holidaymakers would have been subjected to.

While the mainstream press has largely ignored the story, lesser-known sites have covered it after the accusations first started on social media.

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Albawaba, a site claiming to be the largest independent news network in the Middle East, ran the story under the headline: “Boris Johnson honeymooning in Portugal and the question of quarantine”.

Another blog called Ex Bulletin also ran the piece with an identical headline.

Both pieces cited the same tweet as the source. A verified Twitter account under the name Danny Miller tweeted on June 26: “My mate is in Portugal now and the Portuguese media have posted pictures of Boris Johnson and his wife out there tonight for a meal and a few drinks. But NO English media reporting it here!! WHY?!!! 

“Will he quarantine at home which is FULL of MPs and Downing Street workers?”

But is there any truth to the stories?

Facts. Checked

There is no evidence that Boris Johnson broke quarantine rules in this case.

The Danny Miller Twitter account that initially ‘broke’ the story saw the tweet widely shared – with 4,600 likes and 2,300 retweets at the time of writing – and also posted a screenshot of a media report in a subsequent tweet. 

The article titled: “Newlyweds Boris and Carrie Johnson take two-day mini honeymoon at undisclosed location” was from the Evening Standard and published on June 1 following the Prime Minister’s May 29 wedding to Carrie Symonds.

Number 10 has confirmed the Prime Minister did take a two-day honeymoon following the wedding and, as the Standard correctly reported, the destination was not disclosed to the media.

The Danny Miller Twitter account’s screenshot on June 26 could be considered as misleadingly suggesting the PM had taken the break that weekend.

The Big Issue has also found no evidence, as claimed, that the Portuguese media has reported on the pair dining out in the country.

In recent weeks that Johnson has been offered the chance to honeymoon on the Portuguese island of Madeira following an invite from the island’s president Miguel Albuquerque, as reported by a host of media outlets, including Lisbon daily newspaper Diário de Notícias.

If the PM took up the offer on the weekend of June 26 he would have been required to isolate on his return.

Portugal was on the first list of green list countries on May 17, meaning holidaymakers could travel to the country and not have to isolate on their return subject to negative Covid tests. However, the country was moved to the amber list on the government’s first review of the traffic light system on June 8.

Travellers from the UK who have not been fully vaccinated must now quarantine for 14 days on arrival in mainland Portugal, according to the rules, and must self-isolate for 10 days when returning home, as well as taking two post-arrival PCR tests.

Madeira was included in those rules but, while Portugal will remain amber, the island moved to the green list on June 30.

Both The Mail Online and the Telegraph have previously reported that the Prime Minister has postponed honeymoon plans until next year. In the days around his supposed trip he has marked Armed Forces Day and visited Batley and Spen ahead of the constituency’s by-election.

There is no evidence this claim made on Twitter is true and, in this case, it is better to consider whether a story where the source is ‘Danny off Twitter’s mate’ is worth sharing.

Worth repeating

Travel to green list countries: you need to take a Covid-19 test before departure and have proof of a negative result, book a test for day two after your return and complete a passenger locator form

Travel to amber list countries: you take a Covid-19 test before departure and have proof of a negative result, book a Covid-19 test on days two and eight after your return, complete a passenger locator form and quarantine for 10 days

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