ALGARVE tourist chiefs have welcomed the ‘travel bridges’ proposal put forward by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
Brits were given hope for summer holidays yesterday after the government announced discussions for allowing people to fly between countries where the spread of the virus is low were in place.
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Mr Shapps said a 14-day quarantine rule for people arriving in the UK will be introduced from next month, while the ‘air bridge’ scheme would allow people entering the UK from countries with an ‘R’ or infection rate lower than one to be exempt.
He said in the House of Commons: "It is the case that we would indeed consider further improvements for example, things like air bridges, enabling people from other areas and countries who have themselves achieved lower levels of growth virus infection, to come into the country."
Portugal has nearly 30,000 cases of coronavirus, with just 356 in the Algarve.
Portugal has been hailed as a model country in its response to the coronavirus crisis, winning admiration from neighbours Spain which has been one of the worst-affected EU nations.
The Spanish government is currently making people entering the country self-isolate for a fortnight, although it is expected to lift the quarantine order at the end of June.
It looks correct to us having a balanced decision that secures the health of the visitor and the return to normality should attend different levels of risk
Joao Fernandes, head of the Algarve Tourism Board, welcomed the idea of ‘travel bridges’ yesterday as he looked forward to the prospect of the region being the British number one foreign holiday choice.
Around two million Brits visit Portugal, which is due to re-open its beaches on June 6, every year.
Mr Fernandes said: “It looks correct to us having a balanced decision that secures the health of the visitor and the return to normality should attend different levels of risk.
“People need to have a well-deserved rest provided by holidays after a whole year of work, especially in these extraordinary times we have been living in."
If British holidaymakers are allowed to fly to countries with low coronavirus infection rates via ‘air bridges’, without having the need for quarantine, the Algarve may be on the list.
“There is a big British community living in the Algarve willing to bring back their family and friends like they do every year so this would be great news and opportunity for them to.
“Portugal has not imposed quarantine measures on those who arrive in the country.
“In the airport there are strict health and security measures being taken as per national and international rules and upon arrival, the airport will monitor the health conditions of the traveller, take their temperature and isolate them only where Covid-19 symptoms are revealed.”
He added: “The country was quick to adopt preventive measures and extensive testing at an early stage to mitigate the spread of the pandemic, and as a result we have had much fewer cases than other European countries. "
Hotels are already opening in Portugal, but Brits won't be returning yet as the UK still advises against all but essential travel abroad.
Greece is offering to stop the 14-day quarantine period with the UK as long as it is reciprocated, being the first country to offer the travel bridge.
Despite previous suggestions, France remains off the list for now.
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