UK suspends flights from Portugal

By TPN/Lusa, in News, Travel · 15-01-2021 10:53:00 · 1 Comments

The British Government announced on 14 January that they will suspend air connections from Portugal and Cape Verde to England to try to prevent the entry of the Brazilian strain of SARS-CoV-2.

"I took the urgent decision to ban flights from Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela from Friday after information about a new variant in Brazil”, announced the Minister of Transport, Grant Shapps, through Twitter.

Travel from Portugal to the United Kingdom will also be suspended "due to its strong links with Brazil, functioning as yet another way to reduce the risk of importing infections".

Also, the UK's international travel corridors with the archipelagos of Madeira and the Azores will close on Friday and air links suspended, like mainland Portugal, clarified the British Government.

However, the British Government gives exemption to carriers traveling from Portugal to allow the circulation of essential goods and also to British and Irish citizens and third-country nationals with a right of residence, who may enter the country, but comply with quarantine of 10 days.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had revealed on Wednesday that he was concerned about a new strain originating in Brazil from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes covid-19, and admitted taking measures to prevent it from entering the country..

"We are concerned about the new Brazilian strain. (…) We already have tough measures to protect this country from new infections coming from abroad. We are taking steps to do so in relation to the Brazilian strain", he said, during a hearing with the Commission Liaison Committee, made up of the presidents of the different parliamentary committees.

The head of the British Government said that there are still "many doubts" about the strain, including whether it is resistant to vaccines, as is not known for the South African strain.

Johnson responded to a question from former Health Minister Jeremy Hunt, who said the new strain would have been discussed on Tuesday by the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threat Advisory Group (NERVTAG), the group of scientists advising the Government on the covid-19 pandemic.

This week, the Brazilian Ministry of Health had already confirmed that Japan identified the new strain in four travelers from Brazil, which has twelve mutations, including the one found in variants already identified in the United Kingdom and South Africa, which implies greater potential for virus transmission.

The Portuguese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Augusto Santos Silva, has already pronounced. On 15 January he considered "absurd" and "without logic" the decision of the United Kingdom to suspend flights from Portugal.

“In our opinion there is no logic. Firstly, it is a sudden and unexpected measure and this is an element of negative surprise. Second, it is a measure that strongly affects people who have not been properly warned of it. It was announced at 5:00 pm one day to enter into force at 4:00 am the next day”, said the head of Portuguese diplomacy.

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There would have been more logic for Portugal to ban flights from the UK prior to Christmas and New Year. Add all those international arrivals (+ the testing fiasco at Faro airport) to the population travelling up and down the country for Christmas celebrations in groups, and Bang! - we are in the thick of it again: a fast spreading virus and lockdown.

By Annie from Algarve on 15-01-2021 11:57
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