Portugal will leave the British Government “green list” of international travel, due to the discovery of new variants and the increase in the number of infections in recent weeks, confirmed Transport Minister Grant Shapps.
The British minister said today, in an interview broadcast on Sky News, that it was a “difficult decision to make”, citing two main reasons that are causing concern among British authorities.
“One is that the positivity rate has almost doubled since the last review in Portugal and the other is that there is a kind of Nepalese mutation of the so-called Indian variant that has been detected and we simply don’t know the potential it might have to resist the vaccine.” he explained.
Shapps said the government wants to ensure that the country does not import any more variants that jeopardize the decontamination plan, namely the fourth stage scheduled for June 21st, when all restrictions are expected to be lifted.
The new ‘amber list’ measure will take effect from 4:00 am on Tuesday, June 8th.
Countries on the “amber list” are subject to tighter restrictions, namely a 10-day quarantine on arrival in the UK and two PCR tests on the second and eighth day, as is already the case with most European countries, such as Spain, France and Greece.
Portugal was so far the only country in the European Union (EU) on the “green list”, which exempts travellers from quarantine on return to British territory, in force since 17th May.
This morning, the president of the Algarve Tourism Region (RTA) had said that, going forward, the measure would have “a very significant impact on the Algarve”.
Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the official opening of the bathing season in Lagos, João Fernandes noted: “We had a very robust and growing demand for the coming weeks, from the British market, with flights increasing their capacity, with reservations in the hotels consolidating since 17th May”, the date on which Portugal (Algarve included) had been placed on the British green list.
This decision by the United Kingdom today announced “obviously” that it will be “a severe setback” for tourism, namely hotels, restaurants and all economic activities related to the sector, in the Algarve region.
This morning, when the British decision was still unknown, the head of Tourism in the Algarve had some hope, revealing that “the ECDC [European Center for Disease Control and Prevention] data has just come out, placing us among the three countries of the Europe with least incidence in the last 14 days per 100,000 inhabitants”.
In view of these data, there was, in his opinion, “no reason for this risk review by the British” to remove our country from the list of safe countries to travel. But that was not the decision of the UK Government.