To the list of 59 destinations that already had “green light” from the United Kingdom for airlift, five more countries were added (Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), keeping Portugal out. The reassessments are made weekly (there may be changes in the measures if new data are available) and the border control measures are updated every 28 days (in this case, until August 24), so that the Portuguese tourist summer can stay practically lost compared to the British.
This Thursday, the newspaper “The Times” had advanced that Portugal was well on track to enter the list of air corridors with the United Kingdom in this second phase, stressing that the British Government was in the process of giving in to “powerful pressure” by of the diplomacy of the Portuguese Government in this sense.
The British newspaper “Daily Telegraph” had also advanced that the lifting of restrictions to Portugal could eventually be done through “regional air corridors”, highlighting that the Portuguese regions of Madeira, Azores and Algarve had a reduced number of cases compared to Lisbon , being the most popular destinations in the country for English tourists.
“Regional air bridges are an option for countries with localized outbreaks,” the British Government’s Transport Ministry source told the Daily Telegraph on Wednesday.
Madeira and Azores are not advised against travel by the British Government
For Madeira and the Azores, the expectation was that they would be officially integrated into the air bridge with the United Kingdom with this review, at least through regional corridors, taking into account that the epidemiological situation is controlled in these archipelagos, and that they are made screening tests on passengers when arriving at their destination.
The regional governments of Madeira and the Azores are still waiting for clarification on whether or not they are included in the list of destinations considered safe for air corridors with the United Kingdom without British citizens having to quarantine on their return, according to the Express.
In the United Kingdom’s first lead to Portugal, with effect from July, it was confusing to the Governments of Madeira and the Azores that this process involves two lists. The first list reportedly excluded Portugal from the list of destinations approved by the United Kingdom, but in the second list Madeira and the Azores appeared as destinations where travel was not advised against by the British Government because of low numbers of covid-19 cases.
At the time, the Portuguese autonomous regions had said that they wanted to see this situation better clarified by the British authorities, in order to determine whether English travelers who arrived in Madeira or the Azores by direct flights or ‘charters’, without having to pass through other airports like Lisbon or Porto, they were exempt from quarantine on their return to the United Kingdom – which, after all, did not materialize.
Algarve says it is suffering because of Lisbon
For the Algarve, where British tourism accounts for about a third of the total and accounts for 50% of passengers at Faro airport, the prospects are bleak.
“It is more than a lost year”, guarantees Elidérico Viegas, president of the Association of Hotels and Tourist Enterprises of the Algarve, emphasizing that “the truth is that the Algarve was practically out of the pandemic, and was strongly affected by criteria that do not take into account other realities “.
Regarding the UK’s first lead to Portugal, “we never hide the disappointment with this decision”, stresses the president of AHETA. “We were confident that this year we would make recipes to help defuse the pandemic months, which forced a 100% stop in March, 90% in April and May, and our hope was July and August.”
According to the head of the Algarve hotel association, the criteria that led the United Kingdom to exclude Portugal, since the first time on July 10, were “incomprehensible, they were based on infections per 100 thousand inhabitants, which occur mainly in the waist area. Lisbon, which ended up affecting the rest of the country “.
The president of AHETA maintains that in this process an assessment should have been made by region, and not by country, “as in Spain, there are Spanish tourist areas with different rules from the rest of the country, such as the Balearic Islands”.
Elidérico Viegas also stresses that “some English ended up coming to the Algarve anyway, but you can see the negative impact this is having”. The head of AHETA points out that “the months of July, August and September are the months of tourism par excellence and many people who had scheduled a trip to the Algarve canceled, many have not come and have gone to other destinations”.