Coronavirus: Portugese official slams UK government quarantine exclusion

Lily Canter
Portuguese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Augusto Santos Silva. Credit: Getty.
Portuguese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Augusto Santos Silva. Credit: Getty.

Portugal's foreign affairs minister has hit out at the UK government claiming his country's exclusion from England's travel corridors is "absurd."

Augusto Santos Silva told the BBC Radio 4 Portugal's omission from the list of countries exempt from quarantine was "senseless and unfair."

The air bridges, or travel corridors, which come into effect on 10 July, allow people returning from certain countries to England, to avoid 14 days of self-isolation.

Almost 60 countries are on the list including popular travel destinations such as Greece, Spain and Australia.

But Portugal has been left off the list alongside the US, China, the Maldives and Sweden.

Silva told the PM programme: "We are very disappointed with the decision of the British authorities. We think it is senseless and unfair.

"It is quite absurd the UK has seven times more cases of COVID-19 than Portugal so we think this is not the way in which allies and friends are treated."

Portugal's tourism trade relies heavily on visitors from Britain and the country has regularly said it would welcome holidaymakers from the UK. But under the current rules anyone travelling from England to Portugal would have to quarantine for two weeks when they returned back home.

Labour shadow transport minister Jim McMahon described the situation as "a mess" and said: "First we had the quarantine that they were slow to implement, then they said they'd do air bridge. Now we see a plan to let residents of 60 or more countries into England without any reciprocal arrangements."

Meanwhile Scotland and Wales have not announced their plans for easing travel restrictions. The quarantine rules will remain in place in Northern Ireland for visitors arriving from outside the UK and Republic of Ireland.

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