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Portugal ‘regrets’ England’s decision to remove country from safe travel list

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Portugal’s foreign ministry said it regrets England’s decision on Thursday to reimpose a quarantine regime for travellers from mainland Portugal, which has hit the tourism-dependent country hard.

“We regret the British decision to exclude mainland Portugal from the list of countries exempt from quarantine,” the foreign ministry said on Twitter. “But we value they kept Azores and Madeira.”

Anybody arriving in England from Portugal, excluding the Azores and Madeira, after 4 a.m. on Saturday will need to self-isolate for 14 days, British Transport Minister Grant Shapps announced earlier on Thursday.

Portugal only spent three weeks off England’s self-quarantine isolation rule but a worrying rise in coronavirus cases in the southern European nation forced authorities to reimpose it.

Also on Twitter, Portugal’s foreign ministry said the country’s “health rules and the effectiveness of our national health service have allowed us to control the effects of the pandemic”.

Portugal, which has reported 62,126 cases so far, initially won praise for its response to the pandemic but cases have crept back up, with the health authority reporting on Thursday 585 new infections, mainly in Greater Lisbon and the northern region.

From Sept. 15, the whole country will be put under a state of contingency, meaning gatherings will be limited to 10 people and commercial establishments must close between 8 and 11 p.m.

The tourism industry in Portugal’s southern Algarve region, a popular destination among British visitors, has been badly hit by the quarantine rule, and many businesses there are struggling to make ends meet.

Joao Fernandes, head of the Algarve’s tourism authority, told SIC Television, England’s decision “will have a considerable impact” on the region but said it was already expected. 

Hungary, French Polynesia and Reunion have also been removed from England’s safe travel list, but Sweden has been added to it.

Earlier this week, seven Greek islands were added to England’s quarantine list.

Britain’s constituent nations have different quarantine policies. Portugal was placed on Wales’ and Scotland’s quarantine lists earlier this month. 

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