LISBON (Reuters) – Portugal’s prime minister on Sunday slammed Britain for removing his country from a COVID-19-free travel list, and urged London to join a European digital certificate system to make travel easier .
Britain said last week it was removing Portugal from its ‘green list’ of countries that do not require quarantine on return due to rising number of COVID-19 cases and risk posed by the coronavirus variants detected in Portugal.
Portugal had been placed on the “green list” a few weeks earlier. But from 04:00 GMT on Tuesday, Brits returning from Portugal will have to self-quarantine for 10 days and pass two COVID-19 tests.
“We cannot have this system of instability and changes every three weeks,” Prime Minister Antonio Costa told reporters. “It is not good for those who are planning their vacations, nor for those who have to organize the tourism industry to receive tourists in good conditions.”
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He said Portugal was maintaining dialogue with the British government to “explain that the decision is not justified and also the serious damage it is causing to the British and to the Portuguese economy”.
Costa said that “a good way for the British to find a solution to this situation” would be to join a system of digital certificates which the European Union plans to introduce from July 1.
Under this program, EU citizens who can prove that they have been vaccinated against COVID-19, tested negative for the disease or recovered will be able to travel freely within the EU.
Britain, however, left the EU. Costa did not explain how he might join the regime.
New cases of the coronavirus have increased slightly in Portugal since it began lifting lockdown restrictions last month.
Hospitalizations are low and daily deaths are close to zero following the vaccination of almost all of its most vulnerable elderly.
(Report by Sergio GonÃ§alves, edited by Timothy Heritage)
Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.