Portugal disappointed to be exempt from quarantine-free list – ambassador

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New travel new rules came into force on Friday, with the list including popular destinations such as Spain, Germany, France and Italy.

Queen meets Manuel Lobo Antunes

Portugal’s government will make ‘no attempt’ to hide its disappointment at being left off a list of countries where travellers can avoid having to quarantine when arriving in England, the country’s ambassador to the UK said.

The new rules came into force on Friday with the list including popular destinations such as Spain, Germany, France and Italy, but notably omitting Portugal.

Manuel Lobo Antunes wrote in The Daily Telegraph that Portugal was the first European country to receive a “Safe Travels Stamp”, which the World Travel and Tourism Council gives in recognition of health standards amid the coronavirus pandemic.

He wrote: “In this context, as Portuguese ambassador to the UK, I make no attempt to hide my disappointment, or that of my government, in the fact that Portugal was not included on the list of countries whose travellers are exempt from quarantine on their return to the UK.”

He added: “We feel the scientific arguments supporting the UK Government’s decision, which we obviously respect, including data, models and other factors, were lacking in detail.”

“The economic impact of the UK’s decision to keep Portugal under quarantine is immense and there are fears it could be lasting if not scrapped at the next review in just over two weeks.”

Mr Lobo Antunes praised the Government as a “loyal interlocutor” and said Lisbon was confident of welcoming “our British friends back to Portugal very soon”.


Countries and territories from which people don’t need to quarantine on arrival in the UK
(PA Graphics)

It comes after the Government announced that the Joint Biosecurity Centre and Public Health England have “updated their coronavirus assessments of Serbia based on the latest data” and the country had been removed from the list.

It follows nights of violent clashes in Serbian capital Belgrade by thousands of people protesting against coronavirus lockdown measures.

The Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Executive decided to follow the same approach as England, but the Scottish Government has produced a list of just “safe” 39 countries which does not include Spain or Serbia.

While Labour welcomed the UK Government’s relaxation of the quarantine for some countries, it has criticised ministers for failing to secure agreements with more destinations to accept UK visitors without restrictions.

Shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon said: “The fact they have been unable to negotiate air bridges is an indictment of their failure to tackle the crisis at home.”

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