Portugal opens to British tourists

British tourists can return to Portugal from next Monday, the Portuguese foreign ministry said in a statement Friday. They will need to show on arrival a negative PCR test for Covid-19 taken in the previous 72 hours.

The statement ends days of uncertainty over whether thousands of UK vacation bookings for Portuguese destinations would be allowed. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic Brits can currently only go to the EU countries for work, study, family reunions, health or humanitarian reasons. Next Monday is also the day the UK government will permit British tourists to travel to a limited number of countries, including Portugal, without having to quarantine on their return.

The UK decision on 7 May to ease travel bans and include Portugal on its so-called green list, with 11 other low-risk territories countries, sparked a deluge of flight and hotel bookings, especially on Portugal’s southern Algarve coast, which is one of Europe’s most popular vacation destinations. Tourism is a mainstay of the southern European country’s economy. It accounts for around 15% of annual gross domestic product.

The Portuguese government’s delay in announcing its decision on UK tourists came four months after Lisbon officials labelled as “absurd” a British decision to halt flights to and from Portugal. The British government said the measures was needed to prevent a Covid-19 variant found in Brazil, with which Portugal has close ties, from reaching the UK. It wasn’t clear whether the UK government consulted Portugal before including it on the green list.

Restaurants and cafes recently reopened in Portugal, thought they must shut at 10:30 p.m.. Bars and night clubs remain closed. The pandemic situation in the UK and Portugal is roughly similar, with a seven-day rolling average of 3.4 new cases per 100,000 people.

More on this subject: Coronavirus

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