Though Portugal is a much-loved holiday destination for UK travellers, with around 2.5 million British nationals visiting Portugal in 2019 alone, this summer it seems unlikely any travel will take place. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) continues to advise against all nonessential travel to Portugal, enforcing a strict quarantine period for anyone arriving in the UK from the holiday hotspot.
What’s more, though Britons can visit the Portuguese territories of Madeira and the Azores, holidaymakers must endure the same 14-days of self-isolation on their return.
Now, a new update on the rising number of infections in the Portuguese capital Lisbon has served another blow to Britons eyeing the country for a summer escape.
“The Greater Lisbon area is in a state of contingency due to localised outbreaks of COVID-19,” states the FCO.
Across Portugal there are already tight restrictions in place due to the country’s “state of emergency”, however even stricter rules have now been put in place in Lisbon.
The “tighter restrictions” for the metropolitan area include a limit of no more than 10 people gathering in either private or public events; all shops and services must close at 8pm with the exception of restaurants, supermarkets, chemists, sports facilities, petrol stations, health and veterinary clinics; the sale of alcohol is banned at service stations and after 8pm in shops and supermarkets, and restaurants must close at 1am, taking last orders at midnight.
They go alongside the nation-wide lockdown measures still in place.
The FCO explains: “You must observe the rules on social distancing and hygiene: Social distancing of two metres; obligatory use of face masks in enclosed spaces; good hand hygiene; and observance of the rules on maximum capacity.”
However, the rising cases in some regions mean it is unlikely Britain will give travel the green-light.
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In recent weeks, the UK Government has already slammed the breaks on its travel corridor with Spain after a series of localised outbreaks sparked lockdown measures increasing.
Boris Johnson has insisted that the Government will not hesitate to act if flare-ups of coronavirus occurred in other destinations.
“I’m afraid you are starting to see in some places the signs of a second wave of the pandemic,” he warned.
However, Portuguese officials have been lobbying the UK Government to consider allowing travel with the nation.
Many other European nations have been allowed to return to Portugal, and the nation has been critical of the UK’s stance.
The president of Turismo de Portugal, Luis Araújo, said: “Portugal has been welcoming international visitors and the tourism industry has been in operation for several weeks now.”
He added: “The situation at the moment remains to be that people who travel from the United Kingdom are 100 percent welcome and able to visit Portugal, without the need to quarantine upon arrival.”
At the time of writing, Portugal has confirmed 51,072 cases of the virus since the beginning of the pandemic.
Officials in the nation have pointed out that in comparison with the UK, which has recorded 303,000 at the time of writing, it is relatively low.
Portugal’s foreign minister described the UK government’s decision to leave Portugal off its travel corridor list as “absurd”.
Augusto Santos Silva shared a tweet saying he felt the decision was “not backed by facts.”
The UK Ministry of Transport says that the re-evaluation of this air bridge list continues to be done every four weeks, but adds it may introduce “changes weekly, to reflect the changing panorama of international health”.
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