portugal

Judge Files Complaint Against Portuguese Government For its ‘Criminal’ Mismanagement of the Covid Crisis

A Portuguese judge has filed a criminal complaint against the Portuguese Government, including the President of the Republic, for their mismanagement of the coronavirus crisis and infringement of the constitution.

A small crowd gathered outside the office of the Procuradoria Geral da República (Attorney General) when the complaint was submitted last week, but there’s been scant coverage of it in the mainstream media.

Portuguese speakers can read the 51-page Google doc setting out the complaint here.

Fewer Than 1 in 200 Travellers From “Amber List” Countries Are Testing Positive for Covid

Thousands of holidays have been ruined by the Government placing countries – most recently, Portugal – on its travel “Amber List”, forcing travellers who didn’t cancel their plans to fork out for at least two PCR tests and to quarantine for 10 days upon their return. But new data shows that fewer than one in 200 travellers from Amber List countries are testing positive when back in Britain. This discovery has led to more calls for restrictions to be eased before more harm is done to the already battered travel industry. The Times has more.

An analysis of the latest figures from NHS Test and Trace, which are updated every three weeks, also shows no “variants of concern” were detected from any passenger returning from one of the 167 countries on the Amber List.

Only 89 of 23,465 passengers who travelled to the U.K. from these destinations between May 20th and June 9th tested positive for the coronavirus – a rate of 0.4%. There were no positive cases from 151 of these countries…

Nobody travelling from countries on the quarantine-free “Green List” – which includes 11 destinations at present – tested positive during the same period and there were no variants of concern found.

Last night Conservative MPs and travel experts said the data revealed that the border restrictions were too strict as they increased pressure on ministers to significantly expand the green list when they meet on Thursday.

They also said the data strengthened the case for allowing travellers who have had both jabs to be exempt from quarantine, a policy which a senior cabinet minister has appeared to support…

Sir Graham Brady, Chairman of the 1922 Committee of Conservative MPs, said it was time ministers started to take advantage of Britain’s successful vaccine programme.

“Vaccination and testing are making international travel safer just as surely as they make things safer within our borders,” he said. “It’s time British people were able to reap the benefits of the vaccines and for us to get the travel industry moving again.”

Any easing of restrictions is likely to focus on those vaccinated against Covid (possibly just on those who have had both doses of a vaccine), leaving those who – for medical or other personal reasons – have not been vaccinated stuck at home.

Worth reading in full.

Chaos as Tourists Scramble to Return to Britain Before Portugal is Demoted to the “Amber List”

There are reports of chaos in Portugal as Brits make a dash to book PCR tests and flights home before the country they were hoping to spend more time in is demoted to the Government’s “Amber List” on Tuesday at 4am. The MailOnline has the story.

Cabinet ministers destroyed the holiday plans of millions of families after abruptly downgrading Portugal from green to amber status on its travel list, citing fears over the so-called Nepal variant – even though just one case of the strain was detected in Portugal when the decision was announced on Thursday.

The move instantly wiped £2 billion off the value of airlines, while furious travel chiefs warned that it risked creating a jobs bloodbath and further wrecking a sector already devastated by successive lockdowns. 

Passengers have until 4am tomorrow to return to the U.K. or quarantine for 10 days, and must have proof of a negative PCR test taken no more than three days before their departure or face a £500. However, testing centres in Portugal were reportedly overwhelmed by the spike in demand.

There are an estimated 112,000 Britons currently in Portugal and airlines have been laying on extra flights or larger aircraft to get people home. Some 100 flights departed Faro on Saturday and there were lengthy queues snaking around the building of passengers trying to leave yesterday.

Speaking to the BBC this morning, vaccine centre volunteer Angela Mantana said she got news of the sudden decision just one day after getting to Portugal and now has to quarantine for 10 days at home because she was unable to get PCR tests or “suitable” flights back to the East Midlands. It means she cannot provide jabs at her local centre, or provide her aunt – who is shielding – her daily medication…

Another British traveller, Mike Indian described “chaotic” scenes at Faro Airport and having to push past other travellers after officials told him he would need to run to make his flight to London Luton. He told Radio 4’s Today programme he managed to board the plane with just five minutes to spare. 

Some 20,000 passengers departing from Faro at the weekend had to pay exorbitant prices to buy PCR tests so they can fly back from Portugal ahead of the 10-day quarantine deadline…

And testing labs are facing an “overwhelming” surge in demand for PCR testing which is causing holidaymakers to miss flights as test results are delayed or lost. According to Ross Tomkins, Managing Director of PCR test provider Salutaris People, testing capacity is on the “verge of collapse”. …

Yet official data now shows that just 1.5% of British travellers tested positive for coronavirus over two weeks in a sample – just three positive cases spotted out of 200 people coming from Portugal in mid-May.

Worth reading in full.

Portugal Axed from “Green List”

Portugal is due to be removed from the Government’s “Green List”, being placed on the “Amber List” from next Tuesday. It seems completely incomprehensible, given that the British Government just allowed 16,500 English football fans to travel there en masse to watch last week’s Champions League final. The Telegraph has the story.

Portugal is set to be axed from the U.K.’s green list, forcing thousands of British holidaymakers to cancel their trips or cut short their breaks to avoid quarantine.

Ministers are understood to have decided on Thursday morning to add Portugal to the amber list from next Tuesday at 4am after tests revealed what are believed to be previously-unknown variants of Covid. It will mean anyone returning from Portugal after then will have to quarantine for 10 days and take at least two PCR tests.

Sources said ministers had decided that with just weeks to go to the lifting of the final Covid restrictions on June 21, they should “not do anything that jeopardises further unlocking at this point.”

In another report, the Telegraph speculates that cases could be rising in Portugal due to – you guessed it – the British Government’s decision to allow English football fans to attend the Champions League final in Porto.

Two events have served to spark new concerns over rising infection rates in Portugal – and both involved football.

The celebrations for Lisbon’s Sporting Clube de Portugal title win saw thousands of fans gather in a cavalcade before moving into the city centre, many maskless, with few socially distancing and most singing.

It has been linked by experts to a surge in cases in the capital that saw the city centre placed on alert last week, with more than 120 cases per 100,000 people per fortnight.

The second involved the 16,500 English fans who arrived in Porto at the weekend to see Chelsea’s 1-0 victory over Manchester City in the Champions League final. Thousands were pictured ignoring social distancing rules and wearing face masks as they thronged in bars by the Douro river.

The regional health authority for the Porto area said those who were in or near fan zones at the weekend should “reduce contacts over the next two weeks” and look out for Covid symptoms.  

Worth reading in full.

What makes this decision so odd is that cases don’t appear to be rising in Portugal – at least, hardly at all.

Stop Press: No countries have been added to the “Green List” today. MailOnline has more.

Portugal, on Government’s Travel “Green List” From May 17th, May Not Lift Ban on British Tourists Until May 30th

As if the Government’s travel “green list” wasn’t limited enough, there are reports that Portugal may not lift its ban on European tourists until at least May 30th – two weeks after travel restrictions are eased in Britain. This decision would force many to cancel their holiday bookings. The Mail has the story.

Portugal had been expected to lift its ban on European tourists entering its borders – including U.K. holidaymakers – from this Sunday.

But there was confusion amid reports the ban could be extended to May 30th.

It would mean Britons with holidays booked there next week – to coincide with the U.K.’s own travel ban being lifted on Monday – face having them cancelled.

It would also block thousands of football fans who have booked tickets for the Champions League final in Porto on May 29th.

The match had previously been due to be held in Istanbul but was moved following talks between U.K. ministers and UEFA organisers after Turkey was added to England’s travel “red list”…

Officials in Lisbon suggested the Portuguese cabinet talks about Covid concerned extending the country’s official “state of calamity” and would not change the lifting of the travel ban.

They said it related to its ability to introduce emergency Covid legislation and would not include tourism, which they said was still expected to be given the green light from Sunday. 

A formal announcement clarifying the situation is expected on Friday.

It came as the BBC reported that the Portuguese Government will require U.K. football fans to fly in and out of the country on the day of the match. Fans will also have to stay in a “bubble” while in the city.

The country’s Cabinet Affairs Minister, Mariana Vieira da Silva, said: “They will be moved to the stadium and from the stadium to the airport, being in Portugal less than 24 hours.”

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: MailOnline is reporting that holidays in Portugal are back on: “Portugal confirmed today that British tourists will be allowed to enter the country from next Monday, after it held crunch talks with the EU about non-essential travel.”