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Portugal’s fury at exclusion from UK travel corridor list: ‘Which is the safer place to stay?’



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Portuguese officials have hit out at the UK Government after the country was omitted from Downing Street’s list of 73 coronavirus “travel corridors”.

On Friday, the Department for Transport (Dft) published a full catalogue of countries and territories which English tourists can visit without having to self-quarantine upon their return.

Portugal, however, was not one of them,

In a tweet, the Portuguese foreign affairs minister branded it “absurd” that the nation had been left off the list despite the UK reporting 28 times more coronavirus-related deaths.

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Meanwhile, the country’s prime minister Antonio Costa tweeted a graph showing the UK towering over the Algarve in its number of Covid-19 cases.

“Which is the safest place to stay?” he wrote alongside the graphic.

“You are welcome to spend a safe holiday in Algarve! #UK #visitportugal.”

Back in the UK, the Labour Party and Which? Travel also condemned the new travel plans as a “mess”.

The DfT’s list of 73 countries and territories features popular short-haul destinations such as Spain, France, Italy, Turkey, Greece and Cyprus, as well as long-haul locations including Australia, Barbados and Hong Kong.

But China, Portugal, Thailand, the Maldives and the US are among the notable absentees.

Labour said the Government’s failure to negotiate air bridges was “an indictment of their failure to tackle the crisis at home”.

List of countries exempt from quarantine on return to England released

Shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon said: “Labour, like families and businesses up and down the country, are keen for the Government’s quarantine measures to be lessened, but this is a mess.

“First we had the quarantine that they were slow to implement, then they said they’d do air bridges.

“Now we see a plan to let residents of 60 or more countries into England without any reciprocal arrangements.

“The fact they have been unable to negotiate air bridges is an indictment of their failure to tackle the crisis at home.

“They were too slow to take lockdown, too slow to order PPE (personal protective equipment) and too slow to protect our country.”

What do the latest travel rules mean?

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) published a separate list of 67 countries and territories which will be exempt from its advisory against all non-essential travel from Saturday, making it easier for UK tourists to be covered by travel insurance while visiting.

Although the FCO included most of the places named by the DfT, among those missing are Fiji, Mauritius and the Seychelles.

There are also some destinations which the FCO listed but the DfT did not, such as Canada, Estonia, Malaysia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Singapore and the Portuguese regions of the Azores and Madeira.

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Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said holidaymakers having to check the two lists and for any restrictions in their destination country would be “forgiven for thinking this announcement hasn’t been thought through”.

He added: “The Government’s attempt to relax international travel restrictions has been a complete mess, leaving millions of people with no clarity over whether their holiday can go ahead and less chance of getting their money back if they can’t go.

“If the Government is to have any hope of getting travel back up and running, it must urgently provide clear and coherent guidance on foreign travel to remedy the mass confusion caused so far.”

Holidays saved by 60 air bridges as Government’s quarantine farce ends

Noel Josephides, chairman of tour operator Sunvil, said the omission of Portugal from the UK’s quarantine-free list will “kill their peak season”.

“A lot of hotels are going to close, there’s going to be considerable unemployment because of it, and it’s totally unnecessary,” he added.

Mr Josephides said the impact on large tour operators such as Tui and Jet2 will be “quite serious”.

However, Tui managing director Andrew Flintham said that he was pleased the Government had confirmed that “summer holidays are saved”.

Nevertheless, the company said it will not be taking customers to any destinations where they will need to self-isolate when they arrive or when they return home.

More about:

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Downing Street

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Portugal

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Algarve

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Quarantine

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Department for Transport

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Coronavirus

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