Britain’s decision to allow unrestricted travel to Portugal “very important” in so many ways, says minister

The announcement that Britain has finally acknowledged Portugal as a ‘safe travel’ destination has been welcomed by minister for foreign affairs Augusto Santos Silva, who says it is “very important” in so many ways.

It means the 300,000 Portuguese living and working in UK will now be able to come over and visit their families without the burden of facing a 14-day period of quarantine on their return. It means the 30,000 Brits who already live in Portugal are much more free to come and go – and it means the ‘many hundreds of Portuguese students’ who attend British universities are not now faced with a mountain of problems as the new academic year begins.

The opening of the travel corridor isn’t, in the end, all about tourism. It’s about mobility across the board – and for that Santos Silva is clearly delighted.

But for many of Portugal’s most popular holiday destinations, the travel corridor promises the chance of late summer/ early autumn tourism to help pull the battered economy back from the brink.

The minister who lambasted as ‘absurd’ the fact that Portugal was repeatedly blocked from the UK’s green-list in through July and the early part of this month, says the fact that restrictions have finally been removed is “recognition of the positive evolution of the situation in Portugal, namely the capacity for testing on a large scale, the detection of positive cases, the control of their transmission and their treatment in the most adequate way”.

In a statement released this afternoon, the ministry referred to “intense bilateral work” that had gone on behind the scenes “both on a political and technical level”.

The British decision appears to apply to every corner of mainland Portugal as well as the autonomous regions of Madeira and Azores.

By coincidence, earlier today prime minister António Costa was talking at the Centro Hospital Vila Nova da Gaia, stressing that Portugal has to learn to live with the virus, but that the SNS health service is reinforced and totally prepared to deal with whatever may come in the autumn.

For a full list of all the countries on the latest British ‘green list’ click here.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com