Portugal is being added to the UK’s safe travel list, meaning arrivals from the country will be exempt from quarantine while Croatia, Austria, and Trinidad and Tobago are being removed, the British transport secretary has revealed.
Grant Shapps announced the change in government policy in a tweet on Thursday: “Data shows we need to remove Croatia, Austria, and Trinidad & Tobago from our list of #coronavirus Travel Corridors to keep infection rates DOWN. If you arrive in the UK after 0400 Saturday from these destinations, you will need to self-isolate for 14 days”
“Data also shows we can now add Portugal to those countries INCLUDED in Travel Corridors. As with all air bridge countries, please be aware that things can change quickly. Only travel if you are content to unexpectedly 14-day quarantine if required (I speak from experience!),” he added.
According to the Independent, the transport secretary spent two weeks in quarantine after it was suddenly reimposed in Spain on July 26.
The Foreign Office has also updated its advice.
It said: “Portugal is now exempt from the FCO advice against all non-essential international travel; from 4 am on 22 August, Portugal will be added to the list of countries where self-isolation on return to the UK is not required.”
Mandatory quarantine was imposed on Portugal and every other country in the world except Ireland on June 8, the Independent reported.
The British government announced on July 10 that dozens of countries and territories would be exempt from quarantine. But Portugal was not included, which sparked off controversy and led the country to lobby intensively to be awarded no-quarantine status.
Luis Araujo, president of Turismo de Portugal, released a statement following the news, saying: “We are now delighted to have arrived at a decision which we feel far better reflects the reality of the situation in Portugal.
“Portugal has been welcoming guests from the United Kingdom since the beginning of July, therefore this is not the case of a country just opening its doors after battling the worst of the pandemic, but the case of a destination which has been operating with the capacity for international visitors for some time now following effective early action in the battle against the virus.
“While this has been a period which nobody will ever forget, a period of time which has left behind a trail of destruction, sorrow, and pain – we are so thankful to be able to open our arms, even wider than before, to the people of the United Kingdom.”
The move to exempt arrivals from Portugal from self-isolation measures is a significant boost for the country’s tourism industry, which has been hit hard by the pandemic.
Last year, UK travelers made more than 2.5 million visits to Portugal, according to Office for National Statistics figures cited by the Guardian.
In a tweet on Thursday, Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa welcomed holidaymakers back.
“The UK is adding Portugal to its list of travel corridors from Saturday, 22 August. To the Portuguese Community in the UK and British visitors: bem-vindos, welcome back!”