Portugal is in talks with the British government to try to lift a rule that requires anyone arriving in England from the southern European country to self-isolate for two weeks.
Rita Marques, Portugal’s secretary of state for tourism, said in a Bloomberg Television interview on Monday that she wasn’t sure when the UK would revise its quarantine rule even as the coronavirus situation in the country continues to evolve positively. The British rank as the biggest group of visitors to Portugal.
“We have been in contact with the UK, providing all of the information requested by the British government,” said Marques. “We are not sure when the decision will be revised but we are not going to retaliate.”
The loss of British holidaymakers is a major blow to Portugal’s tourism sector, which is going through one of its worst periods in memory and accounts for about 15% of the economy. Last month, Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva called the quarantine rule “absurd,” adding that the UK had 28 times more deaths from Covid-19 than Portugal.
“We do not believe that the quarantine is the real solution,” said Marques. “People should be tested and if that’s not possible they should comply with the rules when they come to Portugal.” Portugal, which has been less affected by the outbreak than neighbouring Spain, last week eased restrictions in some areas around Lisbon following a drop in new coronavirus cases in these areas.
Marques said things were starting to pick up and that her country is set to benefit economically from hosting the final rounds of the Champions League soccer competition in Lisbon in August and the Formula One Grand Prix in
the southern Algarve region in October.
“We believe August and September will be strong months and in October and December we will see how it goes,” said Marques. “The situation is under control.”