The Portuguese government announced that from 28 June anyone travelling to the country from the UK would have to undertake 14 days of quarantine, unless that person had completed their Covid-19 vaccine, in response to the rising levels of the virulent Delta variant currently in the UK.
The announcement itself left those travelling on Monday in complete confusion as Joe Mountain, co-owner of SandyBlue told The Portugal News: “I had my first call at 7am on Monday morning from a guest at the airport in the UK who was travelling with four kids between the ages of 13 and 16. They had checked onto their easyJet flight but when they reached the boarding gate they were told they would not be able to travel. They told me that half of their plane was off loaded because of the rules regarding teenagers and vaccinations”.
The confusion surrounding the situation came because while the Portuguese government had initially said that children under the age of 12 were exempt from needing a complete vaccine to avoid quarantine, those between 13 and 18 (on Monday) had to have a vaccine. A situation which Joe described as “impossible, because they are not vaccinating anyone under 18 in the UK”.
“We were gobsmacked about the entire situation as this rule effects about 75 percent of our clients”.
Reader Charles Barrett was also astounded by the situation regarding teenagers. He told The Portugal News on Monday: “I noted today that your PM has imposed a travel ban effectively on families as people need to be double vaccinated. Given that children up to age 18 are not offered the vaccine and only 12 and under can travel without a double vaccination certificate what happens to the children left in no man’s land aged 13-18?
“We were due to fly out a week on Saturday however unless the situation changes we either have put two children quarantined or we all quarantine for 14 days.
“I don’t think Mr Costa has thought this one through or if he has it’s to effectively exclude families visiting and spending their money in the tourist industry this summer.”
Following 48 hours of uncertainty, the Portuguese government then altered their travel advice for those travelling from the UK to Portugal with new regulations. The Government web site, Visit Portugal, which is under the Secretary of State for Tourism, updated their page concerning visitors from Portugal. On the site it now reads: “Passengers from the UK (Essential and non-essential travel) (need to) Comply with 14 days of prophylactic isolation on arrival in Portugal, or
Have complete vaccination for 14 days. Children up to 18 years old do not need to comply with 14 days isolation when accompanying adults have proof of complete vaccination. Children under 12 years old are exempt of testing requirements. Young people from 12 to 18 years old must comply with testing requirements.”
Joe Mountain said that he and his guests were happy that the problem relating to teenagers and vaccinations had been solved but added that the “there needs to be much better communication with the tourism industry, especially considering its economic importance particularly in the Algarve”.
“The clarification of the rules is great for those who have completed their vaccines but we still have clients who will have to quarantine when they arrive if they have not had theirs yet. Luckily the Algarve is the perfect place for a quarantine holiday as you can rent out a private villa and have everything delivered to your door while enjoying the Algarve weather”.
German red list
Meanwhile, the European Commission will analyse whether the German decision to place Portugal on their travel red list due to Covid-19 “is proportional”.
“The European Commission has been notified and is analysing whether the measures taken by Germany in relation to Portugal are proportional or not,” a source told Lusa.
The clarification comes after Germany classified Portugal last Friday as an area with “concern variants”, namely due to the spread of the Delta strain, which in practice results in a travel ban in effect since Tuesday.
At the moment, Germany only allows German citizens or those residing in that country to travel from Portugal, who still have to undergo a 14-day quarantine upon arrival.
The European Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, recalled that, faced with similar bans imposed in recent months, the European Commission “had to intervene to ask that travel bans be avoided”.
“We proposed the adoption of other mechanisms, such as tests and quarantines while defending that bans or similar measures on travel should be avoided”, Didier Reynders said when asked specifically about the German ban on Portugal.
“[In these previous situations], we were able to make progress in several Member States, starting with Germany a few months ago, but also Belgium, Sweden and Hungary, which have moved towards creating a system without travel bans.”