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Portugal disappointed with UK government over travel exemption

The Portuguese ambassador to the UK has said he will make “no attempt” to hide his disappointment over being left of the quarantine exemption list.

Manuel Lobo Antunes wrote in The Daily Telegraph that Portugal were the first country in the EU to receive a “Safe Travel Stamp” which was provided in recognition of their health standards over the virus, given by the World Travel and Tourism Council.

Antunes wrote in the newspaper, “In this context, as Portuguese ambassador to the UK, I make no attempt to hide my disappointment, or that of my government, in the fact that Portugal was not included on the list of countries whose travellers are exempt from quarantine on their return to the UK.”

He added, “We feel the scientific arguments supporting the UK government’s decision, which we obviously respect, including data, models and other factors, were lacking in detail.

“The economic impact of the UK’s decision to keep Portugal under quarantine is immense and there are fears it could be lasting if not scrapped at the next review in just over two weeks.”

He said that Lisbon are confident of welcoming “our British friends back to Portugal very soon.”

Last week, Portugal’s Foreign Affairs Minister Augusto Santos Silva called it “absurd” that the UK has excluded his country from the UK’s quarantine list.

Portugal has a very low infection rate which is around seven times lower than the UK, and Silva said excluding his country is “senseless and unfair.”

João Fernandes, President of the Algarve Regional Tourism board, said that Portugal have “clearly been penalised” and said the UK government have made a “mistake.”

Fernandes said, “It is a decision that we regret and do not understand in light of the facts. We consider the decision to be deeply unfair and penalises the country in general and the Algarve in particular.”

He added, “We were clearly penalised for speaking the truth. Is it safer to travel to countries that test half, or even a third, or prefer to vacation in a country that is truly committed to preserving public health and tourism?”

“A large number of British tourists come to the Algarve, a region that between July and September registers 68% of overnight stays coming from tourists from the United Kingdom in hotels in Portugal.”

Since the pandemic started, the Algarve have only registered just 1.5% of cases, and have only accumulated 639 cases up to 2 July.

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