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Portugal slams UK decision to leave it off quarantine list as ‘absurd’

The Portuguese government has denounced the British government’s decision not to lift quarantine for people traveling from mainland Portugal as “absurd” and “senseless,” saying the UK has seven times more coronavirus cases than it does.

Augusto Santos Silva, the country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, said Portugal was “very disappointed” to have been excluded from a list of countries from which travelers will be exempt from spending two weeks in isolation after arriving in England.

The exemption list, which was published by the UK government on Friday and will come into effect on July 10, includes 59 states and 14 British Overseas Territories.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4 on Friday, Santos Silva said: “We are very disappointed with this decision of the British authorities. We think it’s senseless and unfair. It’s quite absurd.

“The United Kingdom has seven times more cases related to Covid-19 than Portugal, so we think this is not the way in which allies and friends are treated,” he added.

Although he acknowledged that Portugal has experienced some “specific outbreaks” of Covid-19 in Lisbon, the minister stressed that destinations popular with British tourists — such as the Algarve — were not coronavirus hotspots.

António Costa, the Prime Minister of Portugal, also said the Algarve was a safe place to spend a holiday this summer.

In a tweet posted on Friday, Costa included a graph comparing the number of Covid-19 cases in the UK unfavourably to those in the Algarve, adding the words: “You are welcome to spend a safe holiday in Algarve.”

Health authorities in Portugal have so far recorded 1,587 deaths from coronavirus in all settings. According to Johns Hopkins University, 44,216 people have died from the virus in the UK.

According to UK government data, around 2.5 million Britons traveled to Portugal last year.

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