Hopes rise for UK Portugal quarantine lift

 In Economy, News, Tourism

Portugal is said to be holding talks with the British Government again in a bid to get quarantine measures scrapped for holidaymakers returning from Portugal to the UK.

At present everyone visiting the UK from Portugal must self-isolate for two weeks regardless of whether they have a Covid-19 test which shows they were free of infection around the time of their flight.
Rita Marques, Portugal’s secretary of state for tourism told Bloomberg TV on Monday that she “wasn’t sure when the UK would revise its quarantine rule” even though the coronavirus situation in the country is evolving positively with fewer daily infection numbers.
For example, for the first time since 18 March Portugal registered no deaths and just over 100 cases on Sunday 2 August. On Tuesday 4 August only one death was recorded for the previous 24 hour period.
Yet the British holidaymaker market is vital to the Algarve region’s economy as Britons make up the largest group of visitors in the summer months.
In 2019 the UK was Portugal’s main marker for overseas tourists with 13.2% of all tourists being British citizens or UK residents and 19% of all hotel bookings made by people from the UK responsible for 17.8% of all tourism revenues.
“We have been in contact with the UK, providing all of the information requested by the British Government,” said Marques. “We are not sure when the decision will be revised, but we are not going to retaliate.”
Portugal’s tourism sector is going through the worst period in its entire existence, the pandemic having been responsible for wiping off 2% off Portugal’s GDP since it accounts for anything between 15%-17% of Portugal’s direct and indirect economic revenues.
Last month, Portuguese Foreign Minister, Augusto Santos Silva, called the UK quarantine rule “absurd” adding that the UK had 28 times more deaths from Covid-19 than Portugal.
“We do not believe that the quarantine is the real solution,” said Marques. “People should be tested and if that’s not possible they should comply with the rules when they come to Portugal.”
Last week, the Portuguese Directorate-General of Health eased restrictions around some outlying neighbourhoods of Greater Lisbon following a drop in virus cases in those areas. None of the areas had been tourist hotspots.
Marques said that things were starting to “pick up” and that Portugal is set to benefit from hosting the final rounds of the Champions League soccer competition in Lisbon in August and the Formula 1 Grand Prix in the Algarve in October.
“We believe August and September will be strong months and in September to December we will have to see how things go,” said Marques who stressed that the situation is “under control”.