“If we applied to the world the criterion that some Member States are applying to Portugal – which is the number of new cases reported by the authorities in the last 15 days – we would have opened borders to North Korea tomorrow, which has no reported cases. It is absurd reasoning, but it serves for the spectators to understand well the lack of foundation” declared Augusto Santos Silva, in an interview to SIC Notícias this week.
Regarding a possible air corridor with the United Kingdom, the minister admitted that “there is no information”, but underlined the work done “weeks ago” with the British authorities, in order to “provide the information they need about the evolution of the pandemic situation. in Portugal, according to the applicable criteria “, taking the opportunity to criticize the decision that” some Member States are applying to Portugal “.
Still on the United Kingdom, he said that the talks are “at an important moment”, as the British authorities are preparing to announce their decision, reinforcing that this decision is not bilateral, but rather sovereign, and that the work of the ministry on this side has been “realizing the UK’s concerns and seeking to respond with the measures taken” and which the Government is in a position to take.
According to Santos Silva, an “very important” aspect is the fact that “the current outbreak that occurs in Portugal is very geographically confined”, referring to the fact that the country has told British authorities that “the traditional and priority destinations for British tourism, such as Madeira, Algarve, Azores and Porto”, are not experiencing outbreaks.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs guaranteed that the flights for the repatriation of Portuguese citizens will continue, emphasizing the need to ensure safety due to the pandemic. “The repatriation, humanitarian and exceptional flights, which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs organizes or supports with the local authorities, will continue. On Sunday a flight came from Mozambique, tomorrow [Wednesday] one will arrive from Cape Verde. We are facing a very serious crisis and we must have the essential security elements”, stated Augusto Santos Silva.
On the lifting of some European air traffic measures, in force from Tuesday and lasting until July 16, allowing flights to and from Portugal to countries of the “European Union, Schengen Area and the United Kingdom”, the head of Portuguese diplomacy indicated that exceptions were provided for in the decision taken by the European Union (EU).
“In relation to other countries, trips that allow the return of European citizens and essential trips must be allowed, which are trips for health, humanitarian, study, professional or family reunions”, said the minister.
As for the United States and Canada, restrictions will be lifted for these essential trips, while for countries such as South Africa and Venezuela, as they keep the borders closed, there are no “developments expected during the next fortnight”, he said.
“In relation to Portuguese-speaking countries, Portuguese or European citizens residing in Portugal may return. Tourism does not. We have to keep limitations because we are in very contrasting epidemiological situations in the world”, continued Santos Silva. In all these cases of essential travel, a “proof of having performed a test of Covid-19 with a negative result, up to 72 hours before the trip” will be required, something that the government official says is an “additional element of adequate security” for the Portuguese and for travellers.