There is further upset in the tourism and hospitality sector today following news that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is ‘demanding’ that all EU countries enforce quarantine on any arriving Brits.
Just as the UK is thought to be about to add a few new destinations onto its ‘green list’ for quarantine-free travel, the rules of the game seem to be changing yet again.
But the reality, ultimately, is that Mrs Merkel cannot force EU countries to do as she is ‘demanding’.
And she isn’t really ‘demanding’ that they do this, either. This is how the UK press has interpreted her intervention in the Bundestag lower house of the German parliament yesterday.
What she actually said was: “In our country, if you come from Great Britain, you have to go into quarantine – and that’s not the case in every European country, and that’s what I would like to see.”
Bottom line, whatever she would like to see may not happen.
Today however is a ‘big day’ for Portugal in that the Council of Ministers is expected to bring in new restrictions, particularly with regard to Lisbon, in a bid to combat the rapid spread of the Delta (Indian) variant, which is set to become dominant throughout Europe within the next few weeks anyway.
The variant already accounts for 90% of all new cases in the United Kingdom (hence Mrs Merkel’s concerns, on the basis that even fully-vaccinated people can still transmit the virus).
Meantime, AHRESP – the Portuguese association of hoteliers and restaurateurs – has admitted it is increasingly pessimistic over the prospects for any kind of profitable summer.
Secretary-general Ana Jacinto has told reporters: “A few months ago we were very optimistic because Portugal was on the United Kingdom’s air corridor and there was tremendous demand in terms of reservations. Now we have had to look at the summer another way. The truth is what happened happened: many reservations were cancelled and the volume of reservations drastically diminished”.
For the summer ‘not to be a disaster’, Portugal has to “try and conquer other markets”, she said. And herein lies the next hurdle: one of these markets is the internal Portuguese market – the vast majority of which comes from Lisbon, or at least the area comprising the Metropolitan Area of Lisbon. With new restrictions on mobility on the horizon, and last weekend’s ‘lockdown’, the likelihood that this market can be relied on has also been put into serious question.