The British government has warned against travel to Portugal for more than five months from March 17.
Self-isolation for inbound travelers was only revoked on August 22, after which tens of thousands of vacationers booked late summer vacations. Airlines and vacation companies, including Jet2, Ryanair and Tui, have built additional capacity to cope with the surge in demand.
But the number of new cases of coronavirus in Portugal has risen sharply in the past 10 days. And in a series of tweets on Monday evening, the ambassador warned: “Travelers should think carefully about their plans.”
Chris Sainty tweeted: “Since [transport secretary] Grant Shapps announced the decision on August 20 to allow non-quarantine travel from Portugal, thousands of British and Portuguese holidaymakers living in the UK have flown to Portugal.
“It was great to see people reunite with their families and enjoy the summer in Portugal.
“We worked closely with Portugal to make sure the situation here was fully understood by UK policy makers. But things can change quickly.
“As cases increase across Europe, quarantine has been reintroduced in many countries, in line with the UK’s overarching goal of protecting public health.
“Travelers should carefully review their plans and consider the risks of traveling internationally in this rapidly changing situation. As Grant Shapps said, only travel if you settle for an unannounced quarantine if necessary. ”
The tweets would probably have been signed by the transport secretary and Dominic Raab, the foreign minister.
The metric used by ministers and the Joint Biosafety Center to decide whether a country should be considered “at unacceptable risk” is the rate of new cases of coronavirus over a period of one week.
The figures are released by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) every day at 11 a.m.
When a nation exceeds 20 on the chosen measure, the nation becomes a candidate for a foreign ministry warning against travel and the reimposition of 14 days of self-isolation for arriving passengers.
The UK is currently at 13.2, and within three days to Monday, Portugal’s rate fell from 18.1 to 21.1.
The current convention is for the Secretary of Transportation to tweet additions to the “no-go” list every Thursday evening, with the quarantine going into effect at 4 a.m. the following Monday.
As of Thursday, the Czech Republic was deemed high risk even though it was only slightly above 20.
Unless there is an unlikely reduction in the infection rate in Portugal by Thursday, the quarantine should be reimposed.
As of Monday, 320 new infections were recorded in the country; The independent calculate that the number should drop below 100 for three consecutive days to be clear.
Paul Charles of travel consultancy PC, which has campaigned for testing as an alternative to a two-week quarantine for arriving travelers, said: “This is a pretty significant statement from the ambassador, who is clearly in the know of what is happening on the ground in Portugal. .
“It is clear that his knowledge will advise the Joint Biosafety Center – and reach thousands of people.
But this shows no understanding of the planning teams in the airlines. You need at least two weeks to sort your schedules.
“That’s the problem with a short-term weekly review. This is just another reason why this is poorly thought out policy.
The Lisbon government is furious at what it sees as too hasty a reaction. Portugal stepped up testing at retirement homes last week, which authorities say skewed the numbers.
New outbreaks, mainly among young people, have broken out in the north of the country around Porto and along the Douro Valley, while the vast majority of tourists are in the south.
Portuguese officials will also wonder why Gibraltar appears to have received special treatment. Even though the UK Overseas Territory has a rate of 166, more than eight times the trigger level, it is still considered low risk.
Many travelers currently in Portugal seem to have already concluded that the quarantine will be reimposed from Saturday September 5.
One-way fares on Ryanair from Lisbon to Manchester on Fridays currently sell for £ 270, while easyJet does not have a seat available from Faro, serving the Algarve, to a London airport on Thursdays or Fridays.
British Airways reduced the cost of a week’s Algarve holiday later in September, including flights to and from Heathrow and accommodation, to just £ 179.