Portugal: Fresh uncertainty for UK tourists as green list country extends COVID ‘state of calamity’ until 30 May

Britons hoping for a holiday in Portugal when travel restrictions lift next week are facing fresh uncertainty after the country extended its "state of calamity".

The second-highest level of coronavirus alert is going to remain in place until 30 May at the earliest, almost two weeks after the country is added to a green list of destinations where holidaymakers can go without having to isolate on their return.

Portugal is one of the few options for travellers seeking a quick sunny break, as many of the other countries on the green list are either closed to tourists, too cold, or too remote.

Other popular hotspots such as Greece, Italy, Spain and France are on the amber list, requiring 10 days of isolation and two COVID-19 tests on return to the UK.

Sky News understands that a "state of calamity" is a term used by the government which gives it the power to impose local lockdowns or mandatory mask wearing but does not affect decisions of allowing people in and out of the country.

But separate restrictions cast a shadow over the Champions League final between Manchester City and Chelsea that is due to take place in Porto on 29 May – an event that has already been moved from Turkey, which is on the red list.

Currently non-residents of Portugal can only enter if their travel is essential, a COVID test is required within 72 hours of departure, and even those with a negative result can still be refused permission to board a flight or be made to quarantine in government-approved accommodation on arrival.

It is understood the UK government has been speaking with Portuguese representatives this week about unlocking travel between the two countries.

The government is also talking to the European Commission about how to safely reopen travel on the continent, the PA news agency understands.

When asked whether restrictions on travel from the UK would be lifted, Portuguese cabinet office minister Mariana Vieira da Silva said she had "no information to give yet".

In comments reported by the BBC, she said: "Work is going on and as soon as there is a decision it will be announced, but no decision was taken in this cabinet meeting."

She said British fans could still come to see the football game but they would need to fly on charter planes, arriving and leaving on the same day.

On Thursday, the world’s largest travel firm warned it may be forced to cancel holiday flights to Portugal, just as the UK allows them again, because of a continuing EU ban on non-essential travel from countries outside the bloc.

TUI, which told Sky News earlier this week that people were giving up on booking a break abroad because of a lack of clarity on the rules, said holidays could not happen unless "borders are open".

Portugal has reported 840,929 cases of COVID-19, with 16,999 deaths.

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