PORTUGAL has slammed Westminster’s decision to keep the exclude the country from the quarantine-free travel list, saying the decision was “not backed by facts”.
The country’s foreign minister said the UK government’s decision was “absurd”, while travel experts have warned the choice could “destroy confidence” in the tourism industry.
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This comes as the Department for Transport has updated its list of more than 70 countries where travel is possible without isolating for two weeks on return to England.
It stated that the Baltic states of Estonia and Latvia would also be exemptions alongside Slovenia and Slovakia.
In the Caribbean, St Vincent and the Grenadines has also been added.
These new changes will come into effect on Tuesday and is exclusive to England, although it is believed that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will follow.
It is understood that the reason for the government’s decision was down to a spike in coronavirus cases in the capital Lisbon.
There is still a possibility that the country could be added to the list next month.
Portugal’s foreign minister tweeted today that the decision was “not backed by facts.”
The country is one of the UK’s favourite holiday destinations with 2.1 million holidaymakers heading there last year.
According to Cirium aviation data, 2,333 flights were planned to travel from the UK to Portugal from today to the end of August.
It is believed that the two week quarantine rule imposed on travel to Portugal will be a huge blow to the tourism industry.
The Portuguese government were shocked by the decision after intense lobbying to try and be removed from the quarantine list.
Paul Charles, chief executive of PC Agency, a travel consultant, said: “Portugal is one of the most popular destinations for the British to visit in August.
“This decision is surprising bearing in mind their case numbers are declining, and tourists can easily drive into Portugal from Spain.
“With hundreds of thousands of British travellers set to go to Portugal in the coming weeks, the irony is that the corridors which were meant to create so much certainty are now destroying confidence among consumers.”
Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, welcomed the weekly reviews of quarantine rules, but said: “There are still many countries where travel is not possible without a 14-day quarantine on return.
“We look forward to more routes opening up in the coming weeks, helping our beleaguered aviation sector to bounce back from this crisis.”
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