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03-07-2020 01:00:00 · 17 Comments
As Portugal awaits news about whether or not the country will be given an air bridge between the country and the UK, a new online petition has been launched to lobby the UK government into action.
At the time of going to press there had yet to be a decision on whether the UK government would open an air bridge between the country and Portugal, which would allow visitors to not have to quarantine in the UK for 14 days once they arrive back from a trip to Portugal.
The online petition, which can be found at www.change.org/PortugalAirBridge, had already at the time of going to press, received more than 5,000 signatures and calls for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to “Get your finger out” and “Give a nation that has done very well in fighting this virus a summer season from the start of July”.
The petition was set up by Charles Barrett who has been a regular visitor to Portugal for the last six years with his wife and twin 12 year old girls.
Charles Barrett, who lives in Dunlop in Scotland, told The Portugal News: “My belief in life has always been for fairness, honesty and transparency. I have been following the dealing with Covid-19 here and elsewhere as that is most of the news nowadays. As such when I read that Portugal may be classified as red in the new UK traffic light system I was baffled given the facts I had read on and how each EU country including the UK has been dealing with this virus.
He continued: “My motivation was therefore to fight for my beliefs and for Portugal. Given that I do not have direct access to influencers on this matter I could only influence hopefully with people (as people matter in this world) through Change.Org. I also believe that we have to support each other as people at this time anyway we can no matter which country you are from or reside.
Portugal and its people need tourists to live and survive through this pandemic and indeed tourists need Portugal for its safeness, beautiful resorts, friendly people and a cheap holiday to recover and relax after being in lockdown for so long. As such the introduction of an Air Bridge between the countries helps both Portugal and UK residents in my world”.
Meanwhile the Minister of Economy has said that “there should be no sense of discrimination” regarding Portugal in the resumption of flights from the United Kingdom based on the increase in cases of Covid-19 in the Lisbon region.
“We continue to discuss with the British authorities in order to explain that Portugal, as a whole and in parts of the country, such as in the Algarve and the north of the country, are safe destinations and therefore it does not make sense to have discrimination in these terms”, said Pedro Siza Vieira, Minister of State, Economy and Digital Transition.
“Portugal continues to have a mortality rate much lower than that of the United Kingdom, we continue to have a great response from our health services and we started to act to lessen the effects of Covid-19 before the United Kingdom and other countries”, defended the government official.
For Pedro Siza Vieira, the UK government cannot just look at the daily increase in cases of contagion, “which is the criterion that many European countries have conveniently chosen to adopt”, but other indicators should also be considered, such as the level of contagion in the population, the level of deaths, the level of hospitalisations and the response capacity of health services.
“In this respect, Portugal compares very well and, especially in regions such as the Algarve and the north, it makes no sense to be discriminated against in relation to other destinations within Europe, which have higher levels of incidence”, he underlined.
The Minister of Economy also mentioned that, “fortunately” there are other important markets for Portugal, namely the German one, with “another type of approach to this problem”.
Meanwhile, the Spanish- Portuguese border has been reopened with officials marking the event with a ceremony at the Guadiana Bridge following the three and a half month closure.
The border between Portugal and Spain was closed at 11pm on March 16 (midnight on 17 March in Spain), and reopened on 30 July at 11pm, (midnight in Spain). Portuguese president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, King of Spain Felipe VI, Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa and the head of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez were all in attendance along with other dignitaries.
António Pina, the president of the Algarve Intermunicipal Community (AMAL) explained that the initiative was a “moment that needed to be marked” because “for more than 30 years” both sides of the border have “got used to living in a calm way and often it was not even noticed that there was a border between the two countries”.
He added that the “Algarve, Andalusia and the province of Huelva [Spain] need open borders to live and develop together”.
“We hope that this process will be a success and that our countries and regions will continue to follow the path of pandemic control, because the economy needs this and people also need this for the economy,” he concluded.
The president of the Algarve Tourism Region, João Fernandes, also stressed the importance of the opening, stressing that the Spanish market is “responsible for more than one million overnight stays” in the Portuguese region and that the opening of the border benefits the economy of the two regions through tourism.
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