Portugal has re-emphasised the country’s safe tourism bona fides in response to the UK government’s re-introduction of quarantine restrictions for returning travellers.
For three weeks the country was exempt from Britain’s self-quarantine regulation before a rise in coronavirus cases (above a specific measuring threshold) prompted British authorities to reimpose the contentious 14-day isolation rule.
Portugal’s foreign ministry issued a statement saying, “We regret the British decision to exclude mainland Portugal from the list of countries exempt from quarantine. But we value they kept Azores and Madeira.”
On Twitter, the ministry added that Portugal’s “health rules and the effectiveness of our national health service have allowed us to control the effects of the pandemic”.
The same as with many other countries around the world, the spread of the coronavirus pandemic has varied significantly across Portugal. The Algarve, for example, has been one of the least affected regions, while a significant proportion of the new cases are being confirmed in Greater Lisbon and the northern areas.
Speaking to SIC Television, Algarve Tourism Bureau president João Fernandes said Britain’s decision “will have a considerable impact” on the region but added that it was already expected.
The UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office currently advises against all but essential travel to mainland Portugal (the autonomous regions of Madeira and the Azores are exempt).
Nevertheless, the FCDO is not recommending that those already travelling in mainland Portugal should leave at this time. “You should follow the advice of the local authorities on how best to protect yourself and others, including any measures that they bring in to control the virus. Contact your travel operator if you have any questions about your return journey.
“If you are travelling to England, Wales or Northern Ireland from mainland Portugal, you may need to self-isolate on your return (unless you are exempt). If you are travelling to Scotland from mainland Portugal or the autonomous regions of Madeira and the Azores, you will need to self-isolate for 14 days on your return (unless you are exempt).
Portugal’s foreign minister Augusto Santos Silva has stressed that “for tourists who come by air, Portugal will not impose a quarantine”. Instead, the country – including the Algarve region – is focusing on “minimal health controls” to keep travellers and locals safe.
These include Turismo de Portugal’s launch of another product “to reinforce the confidence of tourists visiting the country, facilitating and promoting compliance with health preventive measures for the dissemination of Covid-19”.
Distributed to tourists arriving in the country, the “Tourist Clean & Safe” kit will will contain two “Portuguese Mask”, CITEVE level 3 certification masks (“which meet the safety criteria for the general population and are 100 per cent biodegradable, thus reducing the impact on the environment”), an alcohol gel pack, protection advice and a “QR Code” to access the website portugalcleanandsafe.com – which provides information on companies with “Clean & Safe” certification.
Click here for up-to-date information about Faro Airport flights.