Several outbreaks in recent weeks have been identified in Portugal which has led the country to not appear on the list of 59 countries which are deemed suitable for an “air bridge”, although this list does include Spain, Germany, Greece, Italy, Macau and Jamaica.

"This list could be increased in the coming days, after further discussions between the UK and international partners," said the British Ministry of Transport in a statement published on its official website.

The “air bridge” system will go into effect next Friday, July 10th, and will prevent those arriving in the stated countries from having to stay in isolation for 14 days, as is currently the case with all people arriving in England from abroad, or risking a fine of £1,000 (€1,100).

The list of countries was drawn up after a “risk assessment” by the Joint Biosecurity Center, together with the general health directorate of England [Pubic Health England] and took into account factors such as the prevalence of coronavirus, the number of new cases and the potential trajectory of the disease.

The announcement made today applies only to England because Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have autonomy over health matters and it is up to the respective governments to determine the measures they intend to introduce.

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon, and Welsh first minister, Mark Drakeford, described the way in which the process was managed today as "chaotic", but British Transport Minister Grant Shapps expressed hope that the system would be resolved across the UK in the coming days.

The lifting of the measure has been the subject of speculation and pressure from the tourism and transport sectors, which were strongly affected by travel restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic, which has led airlines to drastically reduce services since mid-March.

The United Kingdom is the main outbound market for tourists to Portugal, having accounted for 19.2 percent of overnight stays from foreigners in 2019 and has been recording successive growth since 2013, only interrupted in 2018, according to data from INE.

The preferred destinations for British guests were the Algarve (63.4 percent of overnight stays on the market), Madeira (18.5 percent) and the Lisbon Metropolitan Area (10.8 percent).

The Covid-19 pandemic has already claimed more than 517,000 deaths and infected more than 10.76 million people in 196 countries and territories, according to a report by the French agency AFP.

The UK recorded 43,995 deaths until Thursday (out of 283,757 cases of infection) during the Covid-19 pandemic, the highest number in Europe and the third largest in the world, behind the USA and Brazil.

Portugal accounts for at least 1,587 deaths associated with Covid-19 and 42,782 confirmed cases of infection, according to the latest bulletin from the Directorate-General for Health (DGS).