‘Unfair and illogical’: Britons react angrily to Portugal’s downgrade | Portugal

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Portugal has demanded an explanation for the UK’s decision to remove it from the “green list” from Tuesday, as frustration among people in Britain who had made plans to travel to the country mounts.

The downgrading of Portugal from a green, restriction-free travel destination to an amber one means the government now advises against visiting the country, and requires people who do so to self-isolate for 10 days upon return.

Mat, 30, a project manager, and his wife, who are from Bramley in Hampshire, were due to fly to Portugal on Sunday 6 June for a week.

“We’ve had a really tough time in the past few weeks after my wife suffered a miscarriage in early May. She spent several days in hospital and took three days off work, but that’s not enough. We were really hoping for this break, to have a bit of a mental rest,” Mat said.

But with Portugal switching to amber before their arrival, the couple’s chance to get away to recover from the ordeal is in jeopardy.

“Now, with the 10-day quarantine, we have two options: If we go, my wife will need to take an extra 10 days’ annual leave for the quarantine period, which would leave her with no annual leave until April 2022. If we don’t go, we’ll lose £1,000.”

“My wife, who works in finance, still hasn’t got a green light from her boss that she’ll even be allowed to take 10 days’ additional leave. She could easily work from home, but her boss doesn’t like it. If we go and she has to use up all her annual leave to cover quarantine, she might actually be looking for a new job. We just find it completely unfair.”

Like others, Mat has a hard time reconciling himself to Downing Street’s decision to bump Portugal off the restriction-free list so shortly after it was added to it.

“I cannot understand what is the government is doing. It seems entirely illogical. Why lift restrictions if you reintroduce them two weeks later? If they wanted a Champions League final they should have had it in the UK, especially since both teams are from England.”

Another sore point is the British government’s requirement for returnees from amber-coded countries to take two PCR tests while in home isolation, despite the option of exiting quarantine early, so long as they agree to purchase an additional test to release on day five of quarantine.

“What is the point of the test to release on day five if you still have to take a test on day eight? Can’t you just do a test on day two and five and finish quarantine? It makes no sense. The ‘government approved tests’ should say ‘government sponsored’.”

João Fernandes, president of the Algarve tourism board, said: “We regret this news because we cannot find any rational reasoning behind it. On the one hand, the level of vaccination in the UK is advanced and, on the other, the vaccination [programme] in Portugal is also advanced – and the pandemic levels between the UK and Portugal are similar.

“It’s a decision that not only hurts the possibility of travel now but also the confidence of anyone planning holidays from the UK.”

With regards to the Champions League final in Porto last weekend, Fernandes said: “It’s another inconsistency. We’re safe enough to host two British football teams but we’re not safe to receive tourists for leisure in hotels with sanitary protocols.”

Cristovao Norte, Portuguese MP for the Algarve, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he was “perplexed” about the British government’s announcement, adding it had come unexpectedly, as Portugal’s transmission rate was “more or less” on similar levels to the UK’s.

Fernando Pinho, who lives in Cambridge and who hasn’t seen his family in Portugal since 2019, had been planning to travel home for a fortnight later this summer.

“I don’t understand these changes,” he said. “I’ll wait a few weeks [to check if they change it back] but I can’t wait much longer because I cannot risk losing the money I already paid for the trip.

“My whole family is sad, especially my daughters who haven’t seen their grandparents since 2019. The youngest only met them just after she was born.”

Hafta Ichi
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: ‘Unfair and illogical’: Britons react angrily to Portugal’s downgrade | Portugal

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