Portugal hits out at UK over refusal for air bridge – we can deal with Covid better than you, says minister

PORTUGAL is better equipped to deal with coronavirus than the UK, the country's home affairs minister has claimed.

The comments from Eduardo Cabrita followed the news that Portugal is expected to be kept off a list of countries granted air bridges to Britain. 

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An air bridge would allow people travelling into the UK from Portugal to skip the current 14-day quarantine requirement, and is considered key to installing confidence in Brits wanting to book holidays abroad this summer. 

Eduardo Cabrita told the Portuguese newspaper Diário de Notícia: “Portugal has better public health indicators and better pandemic response indicators than the United Kingdom.

"So there's no reason, according to all the comparative criteria, for the existence of any application of quarantine rules on return to the United Kingdom."

The air bridge scheme is considering countries such as Spain, France, Italy and Greece.

Industry sources predict Brits will be able to start flying abroad from July 6 and the list is likely to include up to 50 nations.

Portugal, however, has not been mentioned on the potential list.

While overall cases have remained relatively low in Portugal compared to its neighbour Spain, – a comparison of 41,646 to 295,850, respectively – the country's cases are still a cause for concern.

A coronavirus spike has also been reported across Lisbon, leading to a lockdown in 19 neighbourhoods across the city.

People in several parts of Lisbon will now have to go back to staying at home from this week and will only be allowed to leave to buy essential goods such as food or medication, and to travel to and from work.

The measure will be in place from today until July 12 and it will then be reviewed, according to a government document.

According to Portuguese epidemiologists, the outbreak in Lisbon is limited to a poorer area of the city where tourists don’t usually visit.

Francisco Calheiros, president of the Portuguese Tourism Confederation, pointed out that popular holiday hotspots like the Algarve have very low cases of coronavirus. 

He told the Telegraph: “Algarve and Madeira are two places that Covid-19 is with a low expression, so I could not believe [reports of Portugal's possible exclusion].” 

Portugal has been keen to invite British tourists back as soon as possible – tour operators have slashed prices and the quarantine was to potentially be lifted for UK travellers.

However, if the UK doesn't end the quarantine for Portugal, the country may offer the same restrictions.

"Naturally, if the current situation doesn’t change, Portugal reserves the right to apply the principle of reciprocity,” the ministry said in a statement.

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