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Portugal added to government ‘safe list’

UK visitors to Portugal will no longer have to quarantine on return from the country, the Department for Transport has confirmed.

However, those returning from Croatia, Austria and Trinidad and Tobago will now have to self-isolate for 14 days.

The Foreign Office (FCO) also updated its travel advice to warn against travel to Croatia, Austria and Trinidad and Tobago shortly after transport secretary Grant Shapps made the announcement via Twitter.

Portugal has joined the list of countries exempt from the FCO’s blanket advice against all but essential travel.

Changes will come into effect at 4am on Saturday morning (August 22).

Shapps said “a range of factors” are taken into account when assessing travel corridors, “including but not limited to: estimated prevalence of Covid-19 in a country; the level and rate of change in the incidence of confirmed positive cases; the extent of testing in a country”.

He added: “The testing regime and test positivity; the extent to which cases can be accounted for by a contained outbreak as opposed to more general transmission in the community; government actions; and other relevant epidemiological information.”

Luis Araújo, president of Portuguese tourist board Turismo de Portugal, said: “We are delighted to have the UK government confirmation for Portugal’s inclusion in an air bridge arrangement to prevent mandatory quarantine upon return to the United Kingdom.

“For quite some time now tourism and government officials have consistently maintained our unwavering confidence in the safety of Portugal as a result of a thoroughly efficient and effective multi-sector strategy to contain the virus as early as possible and the implementation of concise measures and infrastructure with the capacity to prepare the tourism sector for a safe reopening. We are now delighted to have arrived at a decision which we feel far better reflects the reality of the situation in Portugal.”

The tourist board predicted a short-term recovery of air routes to about 60% of pre-Covid levels in September.

Araújo added: “The people of the United Kingdom have celebrated our culture, traditions, landmarks, and history for decades, by our side, forming the primary source of inbound visitors for many regions in Portugal. While this has been a period which nobody will ever forget, a period of time which has left behind a trail of destruction, sorrow, and pain – we are so thankful to be able to open our arms, even wider than before, to the people of the United Kingdom. Portugal cannot wait to welcome you.”

Algarve resort Quinta do Lago said it expected a “significant increase in bookings” following the announcement. Chief executive Sean Moriarty said: “The Algarve is the third most popular European destination for British travellers and this lifting of quarantine restrictions enables our UK guests to return and experience the second half of the summer season.”

Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive of the Advantage Travel Partnership, said: “To have such a popular destination like Portugal added to the ‘safe list’ of travel corridors is of course positive news for British travellers and the wider industry.

“However, with Croatia now removed so soon after France and Malta, the constant changes made to this list is causing confusion and denting consumer confidence even further. Currently we are trading 75% down year to date, which demonstrates how dire the situation is.

“Europe is rapidly becoming smaller, however, there are still some amazing destinations that remain on the ‘safe list’ that do not require travellers to quarantine on their outbound or return journey, including Italy. What’s more, there are some incredible countries such as Slovenia, Estonia and Latvia that are deemed safe to travel by the UK government, so this could be a great opportunity for travel agents to sell these destinations to travellers who were planning to go abroad, but who may not have previously considered these places before.

“I would urge anyone looking to book a trip to speak to their local travel agent as they will be able to provide the most up-to-date advice.”

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