Mainland Portugal has been left out of the “air bridge” decree by the British government, allowing people returning to England from a list of dozens of countries to skip a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Despite the inclusion of the Azores and Madeira islands in the scheme, the Portuguese authorities were obviously unhappy with the ruling.
Mr João Fernandes, president of the Algarve Tourism Board, said that the country is being “penalised for speaking the truth”, underlining the high numbers of testing that are being run in Portugal and the “commitment to preserving public health”. The situation is particularly unfortunate for Algarve because, as we have been showing, the infected and deceased rates in the region is low by all standards. Obviously, the southernmost province is being “held” together with the recent and consistent cases identified in the Greater Lisbon.
The reaction of British expats
The Portuguese national broadcaster SIC interviewed some British ex-pats established in the Greater Lisbon. A restaurant owner was questioning “the fact that the UK is opening the pubs now but is not letting come to Portugal is hard to understand.” A fellow countryman added that “it was expected a small surge during the deconfinement” and that “Portugal is not stopping” and that the authorities, notwithstanding the concern regarding the recent numbers, are working in a way that the country can continue working normally, or at least under the “new normal” conditions. “Do we see it (the pandemic effect)? No”, he concluded.
Algarvians still hoping
The Algarvian hoteliers added they expect the conditions can be reverted soon so that some English tourists could still come and enjoy their holidays in late August or September. Also speaking to SIC, the British ambassador in Portugal, Chris Sainty, acknowledged that Portugal managed the pandemic in a positive way, “better than the UK”, and that the government’s list will be continuously updated.