Portugal emits smoke in exclusion from the UK’s safe travel list

LISBON (Reuters) – Portugal’s tourism sector reacted with fury and disbelief at Britain’s decision to maintain a quarantine regime for travelers coming from Portugal despite having a higher number of coronavirus cases and deaths.

FILE PHOTO: Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva attends a press conference at the Necessidades Palace in Lisbon, Portugal, on February 4, 2019. REUTERS / Rafael Marchante

Portugal was left out of a list of more than 50 countries that Britain considers safe enough to travel without restrictions related to the coronavirus, which means that tourists returning from Portugal would have to remain in quarantine for 14 days.

That will be a major deterrent to British tourists, who accounted for 2.1 million foreign visitors to Portugal last year, the second-largest market after Spain.

“Restaurants have adapted, all areas are disinfected, masks are mandatory, hospitals are ready, doctors have been trained. The region has adapted, ”said Antonio Pina, mayor of the southern Algarve, which depends on tourism.

More than a dozen countries have imposed restrictions on travel from Portugal, as the high number of hundreds of new cases per day concentrated on the outskirts of Lisbon in the past month has worried authorities.

“The outbreak occurs on the outskirts of Lisbon, where there are no hotels or tourist restaurants,” said Raúl Martins, head of the Portuguese Hotel Association.

“It has been poorly explained to the British.”

The number of new cases in Portugal per 100,000 inhabitants is currently the second highest in Europe after Sweden, according to data from the Center for Disease Control in the European Union (EU).

Portugal attributes this to its high testing rate, although Britain has outperformed Portugal in terms of testing per million people, according to the website worldometer.info.

“We were penalized for telling the truth at a time when it is important to be transparent,” said Joao Fernandes, head of the Algarve tourism authority.

In a tweet, the Foreign Ministry said “it is absurd for a country, the UK, with 28 times more deaths than Portugal due to # covid-19, to quarantine Portugal’s passengers.”

Great Britain confirmed 14,131 deaths and 284,276 positive tests, while Portugal reported 1,587 deaths and 42,782 cases.

“We hope that this decision, which seems to us deeply unfair and incorrect by the British authorities, will be corrected as soon as possible,” Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva told reporters.

“Friendly countries are treated differently.”

(This story corrects the last name of the mayor of Pira a Pina, paragraph 4).

Reports by Victoria Waldersee, Catarina Demony, Patricia Rua; Rditing of Andrei Khalip, Mark Potter and Andrew Cawthorne

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