Essential Business

Portugal’s UK ambassador in summer season plea

 In Diplomacy, News, Tourism

Portuguese ambassador to the UK, Manuel Lobo Antunes, had made a valiant bid to ‘save Portugal’s summer’ in terms of British visitors.

Writing in The Telegraph, he stresses his “great disappointment” over Britain’s decision to “red list” Portugal over quarantine — meaning that anyone arriving in the UK from Portugal is forced into a mandatory 10-day stay in a pre-approved hotel.
Indeed, he terms the measure “disproportionate and unfair.”
But beyond this issue, which he clearly trusts will be reconsidered, Lobo Antunues is much more concerned with the freedom of human mobility.
It is an essential part of the bi-lateral relationship between Portugal and the UK, and, in his view, should be “protected as much as possible”.
“We hope that this summer, we will once again be able to welcome British visitors,” he says.
“It is no secret that over 300,000 Portuguese people of all ages and professions live in the United Kingdom, while Portugal is home to more than 30,000 British citizens and every year plays host to upwards of 2 million tourists.
“This represents a very significant source of revenue for my country” — particularly after the abysmal year the tourism sector has just experienced,” he said in an article that centred on the “far from friendly” way Portugal has been treated by its oldest ally.
The costly hotel quarantine stipulation has been a “hefty if not insurmountable blow” to both Portuguese who live in the UK, and “our many British friends who have chosen to live, study and work in Portugal.”
“Indeed, it was justified on the basis that Portugal’s strong links with Brazil meant that travellers from this country into the UK could potentially bring with them the highly infectious Brazilian variant,” said the ambassador.
But as the ambassador explains, the British decision came at a moment when “not a single case of the Brazilian variant had been confirmed” in Portugal; and when “several other European countries maintained (and still maintain) air links with Brazil or its neighbours.
Those countries have not been ‘red-listed’ by the UK.
Lobo Antunes also says that all Portuguese and British travellers arriving in the UK from Portugal should be able to undergo their quarantine in the warmth and comfort of their own homes.
“Quarantine with a human face,” says Manuel Lobo Antunes. “This is particularly important given the strange times in which we live.”


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