Portugal air bridge decision based on “scientific and technical” advice

in News · 31-07-2020 01:00:00 · 38 Comments

The UK Embassy has admitted that the decision to maintain travel restrictions to the country as “disappointing for Portugal” but assured that it is based “exclusively on public health considerations” and “scientific and technical advice”.

“We understand that this is a disappointing outcome for many people in both countries,” said the Embassy led by Chris Sainty in a statement released after the announcement of the British Government’s decision to keep Portugal out of the travel corridors that exempt passengers from quarantine upon arrival in the United Kingdom.

The statement stresses that “the first duty of any government is to protect its population” and that “these decisions are based solely on public health considerations to minimise the risk for British travellers and the risk of importing new cases of Covid- 19 for the UK.”

The British Government’s decisions have been informed by scientific and technical advice prepared by Public Health England (PHE) and the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC). PHE consider a range of factors impacting travel overseas including (i) weekly population adjusted incidence rates (ii) death rate (iii) testing in country (rate, capacity, positivity rate) (iv) WHO country self-reporting data (community transmission, clusters, etc) (v) epidemiological intelligence.

“The experts advising the UK Government have had access to all the relevant public source data for Portugal, as well as extensive data and evidence provided by the Portuguese Government. They have considered many indicators in addition to the latest case numbers, including regional data, testing data, testing strategy and the nature of recent COVID-19 outbreaks in Portugal. There has also been direct contact between experts from both countries to discuss the data.

“We appreciate the comprehensive efforts by the Portuguese Government and the health authorities in fighting the pandemic, containing the spread of the virus and keeping hospitalisation and death rates very low. However, due to the series of outbreaks in recent weeks, the prevalence of the virus in mainland Portugal over the recent period has remained persistently high. “While the indicators have shown improvement in recent days, they are not yet at a level which allows the UK Government to relax the current measures.”

The UK Government has said that these decisions will be regularly reviewed and that going forward, the list of exempted countries will be reviewed on a more frequent basis to enable the UK Government to respond quickly to the latest epidemiological assessments.

The statement concludes: “We continue to believe that the measures adopted by the Portuguese authorities are the right ones and will bring the infection rate down to sustained low levels, allowing the UK to lift the remaining restrictions as soon as that can safely be achieved”.

If you disagree with the decision of the UK Government to continue to leave Portugal off the air bridge list, then visit our website or Facebook page for further details on how to sign a petition and lobby UK ministers.


First of all , I would say that there are a lot of comparisons with the amount of infections and deaths. But that is not the true figure , the infections per capita are the key. However with a greater number of infections, much higher more dense population, the number of deaths will always be higher. That said it does seem that the refusal of the UK / Portugal air bridge. Is based on historical rather than recent data. The UK government has never said what the science is. I conclude that the only real reason is that they want the brits to spend their money in the UK . I am due over there in 6 week. I want to go , I truly hope the UK see sense and give Portugal the chance it deserves.

By Chris B from UK on 12-08-2020 09:55

Better let The People's Front of Judea sort this out, they won't take as long, and as for covid, you must have been busy and didn't hear about the 2 people they took to Faro hospital with covid symptoms about 2 weeks ago from Vilamoura, all is fine, nothing to see here, move along now.

By Callum Murry from Algarve on 05-08-2020 10:57

Very glad to hear how you all feel safe in the Algarve. This is a world apart from the UK. You will appreciate the efforts and sacrifices that the local residents have made to maintain this level of safety. We also want to continue to feel safe during and after the holiday season when crowds of visitors invade our towns. Please respect and comply with all the rules that are there for everyone's safety and well-being.

By Annie from Algarve on 05-08-2020 01:13

I have booked a holiday to Madeira on the 24th August, I can't understand or believe that the UK & Scottish Government will insist on self isolation on our return. Madeira has had no deaths and a very small amount of cases. Just doesn't make sense so this must be political. Probably much safer there than a staycation in the UK.

By Margaret Lockhart from UK on 05-08-2020 11:47

I don’t think this is a political decision based on the UK’s relationship with Portugal it is more to do with the UK economy. The economy in the UK has been hit really hard and without ‘help’ from Europe now we have exited the EU the government I believe want people to holiday and spend money within the UK. As soon as the air bridge was in place for Spain the government then realised the number of people that were travelling to Spain and then closed the air bridge. There is no health reason to keep Portugal off the list as the rate of infection is vastly lower than the UK. It’s very frustrating as I am due to travel to the Algarve next week and I am still going to go as it’s safer there than in the UK. I will self isolate when I return the 14 days but I’m lucky my employer has allowed me to do that.

By Scott from UK on 05-08-2020 10:32

I have been in Algarve for nearly 3 weeks now and everything here is fine the Portuguese people wear masks in shops hand sanitizers at every door someone’ at the door to make sure you sanitizes and the correct number is in shop a lot of people are wearing masks when they are out beaches clean beds cleaned after every use and not over crowded can’t understand UK government at all or Northern Ireland I have felt totally safe here from I arrived and I’ll have to quarantine when I get home I don’t care I’ll be back in September to the algarve and I feel much safer here

By Sharon Williamson from Algarve on 05-08-2020 09:22

Hi all I'm in Portugal and fly back to the uk on Thursday while been here there as been no virus at all every body needs to come to Portugal for there holiday break and you will be very very safe, in the uk it's bad very bad n I feel very safe here in Portugal . boris is embarrassing n needs to to put the airbrige on I have to self isolate for two weeks like most British but it's worth every penny having my holiday as been fantastic thank you Portugal x

By Janet silvester from Algarve on 04-08-2020 07:58

This decision to leave Portugal off the air bridge list is complete and utter NONSENSE! I truly am at a loss to find the correct words to describe how i feel about it. It really does beggar belief.

By Kenny Anderson from UK on 04-08-2020 09:27

I am totally embarrassed by this government. I will be travelling to the Algarve at the weekend for a 5 day break and will come home and self isolate for 2 weeks, however because I am on my own I can go to the local shops here in the UK as I have no one to help me AND I stand more chance of getting COVID 19 at my village shop than I do in the Algarve. I have accepted the isolation period but do not agree with it. I will also be travelling back to the Algarve for a couple of weeks in October another 2 weeks isolation again this is the price I have to pay o enjoy my favourite place in the world.

By Jackie from UK on 04-08-2020 08:27

Your right erica we are going same day in August
Fingers crossed

By Mandy Fishburn from UK on 03-08-2020 11:48

I believe the UK government is punishing Portugal for its tax incentives to UK and other EU nationals. Under its NHR scheme people are able to move and become resident in portugal and pay no tax on foreign income, including their uk pensions.

By Paul Craven from Algarve on 03-08-2020 09:10

A lot of bull by the UK decision makers. Portugal including islands total number of new cases 155 number of deaths 2 - UK new cases 867 deaths 38 these are facts for Thursday 30 July 2020. Politics... my opinion is that the UKs economy is in dire straights with no financial help from the EU which all EU countries are getting and hence the UK wants to retain brits to holiday in the UK and last year Portugal has 2 million plus holiday makers from the UK and similar in Spain so if they can get 4 to 5 million brits to holiday in the UK instead of these two countries it will help their economy. Just my view

By Marilia Guerreiro from Algarve on 01-08-2020 11:10

I think the UK government and in particular the Scottish government approach to Portugal’s Algarve region is disgraceful. There have been more cases at home than here and the local government in the Algarve has been more responsible and effective than the UK.

By Lesley Arrowsmith from Algarve on 01-08-2020 07:49

this just sums up this government
Ive always been conservative but never again
They are a total embaresment to us all

By david proos from UK on 01-08-2020 06:47

Could it have anything to do with keeping the English pound in England !!
Stay action !!
Conspiracy theories

By James Davey from UK on 01-08-2020 02:50

I have a place in montinhos da luz which has been empty since march orally need to visit my property to do some maintenance but un able too because of travel insurance that states that my journey is not essential, having just renewed my insurance in Feb for the year I feel it's unfair that I paid all that money and have wasted 5 months, when I could be in my property

By Stephen Gibbs from UK on 01-08-2020 12:45

I'm sure this is a political decision by the far right wing UK government. Considering the report complied by ONS comparing UK to other European nations and the UK coming out the worse, the UK Government's stance towards Portugal its oldest allay stinks of hypocrisy.

Or is it something to do with Brexit I wonder where Britain can bully tourism reliant nations, the sooner Boris and his band are gone the better !

By Carl Spurling from UK on 01-08-2020 11:25

Not surprising really. Since the UK abandoned their herd policy they have got everything wrong and continue to do so.... What is amazing is the patience of the British people .

By Mark Pye from Other on 01-08-2020 10:57

Portugal’s covid 19 cases are below the average measurements and way lower than a lot of the countries that have an air bridge in place. Political..most definately..just let proper facts be used and get that air bridge open ASAP. Portugal is way safer than the UK

By Cheryl from UK on 01-08-2020 10:40

Never felt safer in Central Portugal at our house.
After 5 months of cancelled flights we return to UK.
Masked up from house to Lisbon Airport and on flight to Luton.
From leaving the plane very few wearing masks and indeed not much sign on homeward journey. Oh joy 14 days quarantine and then compulsory masks. Stable door horse bolted springs to mind.
Looking forward to our return to Portugal in October

By Richard Cook from UK on 01-08-2020 10:09

I am coming to the Algarve in a few weeks and really hope that there is an air bridge with the U.K. Coming from Scotland, which has the 3rd worst Covid death rate in Europe, Portugal will welcome me but I need to quarantine back in the UK!! Is there something we are not being told? By any standards, this makes no sense at all.

By Douglas E from UK on 01-08-2020 10:07

This government does not want to protect its population, because of this was the case travel would of never been allowed to spain that has 10 times more infection rate than portugal, also england thas 20 times more deaths and more cases than portugal ever had! I have been in portugal this year and it is more than safe to walk on the street and not have any risk of getting any virus. However I cant say the same for england either fot London! The english population does not respect any rules and they are having more than 400 new daily cases while in portugal they are having a max of 100 cases daily! England will lose so much with their thinking! People dont forget that you are not in the EU anymore, and that you kind of need good relations with all countries in the EU to get a fair deal! Which by the way how the english government is taking the stuff! Noone will want to have a fair agreement with you! Portugal does not import food or drinks or anything from the UK!!

By Barbara from UK on 01-08-2020 09:22

Like many other commentators on this topic, I have been fobbed off by the UK government regarding statistics. Yet mid week, the BBC UK News carried quite an extensive piece discussing the latest figures from the ONS, which showed the UK has having the highest death rate in the whole of Europe and the longest infection incidences, too. Spain was the second highest and Italy third. However, Portugal was amongst the lowest. Whilst I come from an are of the UK that has had some of the lowest deaths and infection rates in England, I have been vey cautious about going out and have repeatedly written and tweeted Johnson, Hancock and Shapps asking for their rationale behind very safe Portugal's exclusion. Surprisingly, to date I have received no reply and now have a rather cynical view as to why Spain had, until last weekend, remained on their safe list despite all the evidence of alarmingly rising infections; this being Shapps' need to take his family holiday there.
I feel that my human rights as a British citizen have been denied in controlling my freedom to travel and forcing me to live in an unsafe country. I am longing to see my beloved Tavira. Please, Portugal, keep up the pressure on the two-faced British government.

By Pamela Bilsdon from UK on 01-08-2020 09:05

We were in Portugal, on the silver coast, in March when we started to here the worrying news from the UK and went home early worried the uk might close its border. In portugal they had already started taking precautions in shops and garages. When we arrived in Luton no masks no social distancing, nothing!!! We have just been back to Portugal, despite quarantine now we are home, and again they are so organised there. There were signs directing you on and off beaches. Everyone was socially distancing and cafes and restaurants, ofter outdoors were sanitizing after each customer. All the shops had hand sanitizer with foot pedals which I haven't seen in the UK. Everyone wore masks in shops and when entering and paying in cafes etc. All felt very safe. Why are we targeting Portugal like this?

By Jennie from UK on 01-08-2020 08:57

I believe that there is a political element to this. My daughter lives in Portugal and she is a nurse. The rates of infection are much lower than here and always have been. They populations response has been much more compliant than here and they locked down much quicker.

By Lesley from UK on 01-08-2020 08:12

Be clear. Is this including the Portugese island of Madeira that has had a very low Covid count?

By Adele from UK on 01-08-2020 07:19

Why single out Portugal?? Spain has far worse statistics and we can go there...?....there is definitely an ulterior motive.

By Kate Pullin from UK on 01-08-2020 06:26

We are due to go 16 Aug and eagerly await a change in uk position. Every day I review the data and comparisons and portugal continues to decrease. Isnt it time to review position particularly for Algarve

By Erica Lockhart from UK on 31-07-2020 09:09

I'm due to fly to Maderia in November this year will my flight from Glasgow be allowed to fly to Portugal

By Neil Logan from UK on 31-07-2020 08:23

Why do have to follow UK regulations instead Portugal should be the one put very high restrictions against UK !!! It's a completely chaos in UK , disgusting what people does in the shopping , street,etc..no one cares about wear masks or an regulations..how come UK got that performance to judge others country's?? I'm seen daily disgusting people on street also in shopping not wearing masks at all ? What UK think they are to powering other countries without seen first what serious mistakes doing !! Portugal should have the guts facing UK minister's including UK embassy in Lisbon and kicked them out of the roll..I believe that friendship since 1374 it's well handed over ,,no regrets in the mean time , UK causing enemies at this stage won't help at the crisis after Brexit..on my knowledge UK will give air bridge ..but not now ,,will possible in the winter ,,, eventually UK needs 55 billions pounds to cover this crisis ,so they trying to keep everyone in UK to spend everyone holiday in UK ...where ? How ? Safe ? Don't think so..

By joe santos from UK on 31-07-2020 07:51

Absolute lunacy on behalf of our incompetent government- to show my faith in the safety of being on Akgarve I am totally ignoring the FCO advice even though I will not have travel insurance- in the 28 years I have had my house in Carvoeiro I ha e had an annual travel policy paying over £6000 in premiums and god willing have never made one claim, If for worst scenario my body had to be repatriated i have instructed my wife to bury me in Portugal- I feel so ashamed our government who are relying on data that none of us can access.

By Anthony Foxwell from UK on 31-07-2020 07:47

I just don't get the reasoning behind the decision. We are booked to go to Madeira as we go all the time.
They've had no deaths and only over 100 cases.
They've done everything they can to make the island safe. If everyone follows the rules, gets a test on arrival ( free of charge) and do what's asked of them I don't understand why Madeira should be punished for doing everything correct. People should be looking at what they've done and follow by example.

By Margaret Walker from UK on 31-07-2020 06:37

I emailed Grant Shapps to appeal for at least Madeira to be exem pted 2 days before he was hoist by his own petard in Spain. No response so far

By Keith from Madeira on 31-07-2020 05:52

I am going from a place that has 3 times the number of new cases and 41 times the number of deaths of the place I am going to and I have to quarantine on my return?! Not on the outbound?! Does that make sense to anyone. I'm safer and far less likely to spread the virus in Portugal than I am in my local supermarket. The quarantine on return means I am likely to have to cancel or postpone the holiday until next year which is no great hardship but does seem completely illogical.

By Michelle Bradley from UK on 31-07-2020 05:22


By Jean Cruickshanks from UK on 31-07-2020 05:15

We ate due to arrive on 18 of August will we be safe

By Mark Cain from Algarve on 31-07-2020 05:01

I am becoming increasingly convinced that this is a political decision, because Portugal has, as I understand it, a successful socialist government which has managed to reverse many austerity measures while staying within its means. And perhaps our current government wants to damage their economy with a view to claiming "Socialism doesn't work"? When this idea first occurred to me, it felt too much like a conspiracy theory, but now I can't think of another explanation, when Portugal has so obviously dealt with COVID 19 far far more competently than the UK. I believe it has one of the best testing regimes in Europe (which can explain higher infection rates in some areas). I lived in Coimbra for 4 years, and love the country and its people and am feeling very angry on their behalf.

By Cathy Benson from UK on 31-07-2020 04:32

I got pretty much the same message via my MP. I specifically asked for the facts, I.e. where can we all go any see the scientific data that the decision is based on. But I just got a load of political waffle.

By David S from UK on 31-07-2020 11:00
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