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

in News · 26-07-2020 09:00:00 · 12 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," says 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 minimize the risk for British travellers and the risk of importing new cases of covid- 19 for the UK.”

And he points out that "These decisions are based solely on public health considerations with the objective of minimising the risk to UK travellers and the risk of importing new cases of COVID-19 into the UK.

The statement continues: “The first duty of any government is to protect its population. These decisions are based solely on public health considerations with the objective of minimising the risk to UK travellers and the risk of importing new cases of COVID-19 into 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 click here to find details on how to sign a petition and lobby UK ministers.

WHO and Worldometer Data for each country for confirmed cases per week.


Week ending 29/6/20 - 2380 cases

Week ending 6//7/20 - 2652 cases

Week ending 13/7/20 - 2169 cases

Week ending 20/7/20 - 760 cases

On 760 cases that is roughly 7.6 per 100,000 infection rate.

The Algarve is roughly 3 per 100,000 now.


Week ending 29/6/20 - 2589 cases

Week ending 6//7/20 - 4590 cases

Week ending 13/7/20 - 9016 cases

Week ending 20/7/20 - 8865 cases

On 8865 cases that is roughly 18.7 per 100,000 infection rate.


The ONS last figures for England is estimated at 2,800 new cases per day or 19,600 per week for the week ending 20/7/20 and also states that the current infection rate is 5.2 per 100,000.

As such the Algarve is less than England and the whole of Portugal is just above England with the most telling factor being that Spain is on and Portugal off even though Spain has a rising infection rate over the last three weeks and Portugal has declined.

As such Portugal is now 7.6 per 100,000 and Spain is 18.7 per 100,000 infection rate.


Here in Madeira Island we currently have 8 active cases of covid, no deaths, everyone that arrives to the island has to have a negative test done up to 72h before arrival or else has a free test done on arrival (Google Madeira safe to discover), many hotels and short term rentals, activity companies, car rentals and others have "clean&safe" compliance. From today onwards the use of masks is mandatory except on beaches, trails, hockings and some other situations. Definitely a very safe place to be... What sense does it make to have a quarantine upon arrival at the UK !!

By Miguel Diniz from Madeira on 01-08-2020 06:55

You only have to look at the figures and you can see that Spain has had far higher numbers since June yet for us Brits she’s been a safe country for us to travel to! The UK Government’s priority being our welfare, surely a contradictory analysis? In addition to help each country touristically if the numbers as shown in the Algarve are far lower than Lisbon then viewing data by area would surely be more beneficial.

By Margaret Stringfellow from UK on 28-07-2020 06:36

Adding from my comment above - the decision to not give Portugal an airbridge is political, it's a shame that Boris doesn't have a conscience, he's making Portugal suffer even though he had a portuguese nurse look after him at his bedside in his hour of need!! He would rather give the airbridge to Spain who have higher infection rates - that's just so nice of him. It's embarrassing and disgraceful behaviour, and there's no logic as to why Portugal has been treated in this way.

By Marilia Branco from UK on 27-07-2020 07:22

This is political - how can Spain at a higher rate per 100,000 be exempt in the first place? They were given exemption on 06.07.2020 when their rates were higher than Portugal. The obvious answer is that the Transport Minister wanted to go on holiday in Spain and so it was convenient for him to give Spain the exemption!! The British people have no faith in the Uk government and whether they will quarantine when they arrive is another issue. Sadly if no-one does their civic duty and that includes the politicians, the worst outcome is going to surface.

By Marilia Branco from UK on 27-07-2020 07:06

The FCO say it's safe to travel to Portugal but the government have not announced an air bridge therefore contradicting each other and I am unable to obtain a refund for my holiday I am been forced to travel against government advice or lose my money this is unfair.

By Mrs Margaret Galley from UK on 27-07-2020 08:55

What's the point reading those particular subjects from UK embassy daily statement's?? Portugal should be the "one" input regulations against United Kingdom following quanrentine when arrive in Portugal ..not in UK..that UK embassador must be a delivery boy for given those information without advance notice.. Algarve tourism it's already damaged ,not only for UK tourist ,,France ,Italy , Germany etc..they compare the infection by every 100000 people !! So what about UK ?? Have they being given the true since day one ? Don't think so..this is lesson for that president and Portuguese ministers spend more often singing and dancing than be more concerns regarding the country, left thousands people's from many nations on deep hole..what we can said or think ? Waiting ? To late I suppose..listen general regulations daily ? We have since beginning march ,,,,what the government input regulations since ? None...since last month masks , distance,party's , traveling they have input those particular regulations !! Why not since march ?? Government might have long speech with long tang also good with pen a paper ,but manually issuing they are incompetents..

By joe santos from UK on 26-07-2020 08:50

Hi, I think Portugal have by far better control the Covid19 pandemia from the beginning comparing to Spain or UK. However I don't see the point to compare now the figures with Spain.

By Marcos Domínguez from UK on 26-07-2020 08:10

Spain is on now as well

By Jan jansen from Other on 26-07-2020 06:17

Yet you opened ways to other countries with higher recorded cases. ???

By Denise breach from UK on 26-07-2020 06:03

Just as every country wants to start jogging to have their economy up and running Portugal should try and make their healthcare a lot more robust and stop efforts to constantly beg UK for the air bubble cause the UK government will never heed to the Portuguese government's request however convincing the numbers maybe. Instead they should look to third world countries to boost their tourism sector by organising tours with Portuguese governments participation directly to improve and support such tours to kick start the economy. Just an idea though.

By Marvin Menezes Gama from UK on 26-07-2020 05:44

The ambassador is lying.if it true then see the report above.It is not a scientific is clearly political decision.

By Syed ghayyor Ahmed from Other on 26-07-2020 04:11

Infection cases per 100,000 in Portugal have been 2-3x higher than those in the UK over the last 4 weeks and in fact only Sweden and now Spain have higher case rates in Europe. To get new infection case rates down to similar levels found in the UK, Portugal needs to have less than 150 cases a day (7 day average) rather than the mean of about 225 cases today. That may take a while.

By Al from Lisbon on 26-07-2020 11:25
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