The decision was taken “following indications that the risk of importing a worrying variant from these destinations has been reduced,” states the UK Ministry of Transport, noting that “Portugal has taken measures to mitigate the risk of its links with countries where the variants have become a concern and now has genomic surveillance in place”.
However, air connections are not expected to resume immediately, as the Portuguese Government has extended the suspension of flights, commercial or private, with origin or destination in the United Kingdom and Brazil until 31 March.
Despite this easing of restrictions, the lockdown rules due to the Covid-19 pandemic remain in England, so it remains prohibited to travel without valid justification, meaning that holidays in Portugal remain off the cards for now.
The Minister of Internal Administration, Eduardo Cabrita, stated that the departure of Portugal from the British ‘red list’ is “something extremely positive”, and demonstrates the “recognition” of the “path” that Portugal has followed “in the last few weeks”.
“It is naturally something extremely positive because there was no basis for this inclusion of Portugal in this list”, defended Eduardo Cabrita.
He added that Portugal has “particularly low incidence indicators” with regard to the pandemic situation and sais that the country needs to “continue the effort to consolidate these results” and will remain “attentive” to the risk of the variant detected in the United Kingdom and “its impact on Europe”.
“But, obviously for Portugal, these decisions, both the German decision last Friday and this British decision, are the recognition of the path that, collectively, we have been taking in recent weeks”, he concluded.
The removal from the “red list” has also been welcomed by the president of the Algarve Tourism Region (RTA) who has said that the new situation is “welcome” and reflects the “positive epidemiological situation” in Portugal.
“For the Algarve it is good news, because the British market is one of the main outbound tourism markets, it allows British citizens to plan their summer vacations and to be able to begin to start taking care of their travel insurance, which was not possible for them with Portugal included in the list”, João Fernandes told Lusa.
For João Fernandes, the British position “gives a clear signal that the destination [Algarve] is prepared to receive tourists from that country, but it is not yet the final signal that is desired.
“The signal we want is for British citizens to be able to travel abroad, a reality that will only become clear as of May 17, because at this moment they can only go on essential trips,” he recalled.