Beach goers have huddled on Portugal’s sandy beaches as the country faces rising coronavirus cases and a delay in easing lockdown restrictions in some cities.
The Portuguese government announced this week that stricter rules will apply in the capital Lisbon and three municipalities due to a worrying increase in Covid-19 infections.
It comes after the UK government made a quick decision last week to remove Portugal from its “green” travel list because of the presence of a new variant of the coronavirus.
Beach goers have huddled on Portugal’s sandy beaches as the country faces rising coronavirus cases and a delay in easing lockdown restrictions in some cities
Vacationers packed Santo Amaro Beach near Lisbon on Thursday to enjoy the scorching temperatures despite rising infection rates
Portugal recorded a total of 910 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, the highest daily number of new cases since March 10.
Meanwhile, the UK recorded another 7,393 positive tests in the biggest weekly surge since February as the Indian variant of Covid continues to spin.
Vacationers packed the Santo Amaro beach near Lisbon on Thursday to enjoy the scorching temperatures despite rising infection rates.
But it is because the capital, along with Braga and Vale de Cambra in the north and Odemira in the south, will not move into the next phase of easing the lockdown on Monday and its stricter measures until at least Jan.
In these areas, restaurants and cafes have to close at 10.30pm, while in the rest of the country they can stay open until 1am.
Working from home also remains compulsory whenever possible, while for the rest of the country it is only recommended after June 14th.
Portugal recorded a total of 910 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, the highest daily number of new cases since March 10. Meanwhile, the UK recorded another 7,393 positive tests in its biggest week-to-week spike since February as the Indian Covid variant continues to spin
“The situation of these communities does not allow us to continue the deconfinance,” said government spokeswoman Mariana Vieira da Silva after the ministers’ meeting and the decisions, stressing that the number of Covid-19 cases in Lisbon has increased, especially among younger people.
Portugal imposed a nationwide lockdown in January to tackle the world’s worst spike in coronavirus at the time, but the restrictions have been phased out since mid-March and most businesses have already opened.
For the rest of the country, the government’s plans to relax lockdown restrictions will continue earlier this month.
Under these plans, a number of activities will be allowed again, including the return of the public to sports arenas, but only up to a third of the capacity of a venue.
But it comes as Lisbon, along with Braga and Vale de Cambra in the north and Odemira in the south, won’t move on to the next phase of easing the lockdown on Monday and will maintain their stricter measures until at least June 27. Pictured: Beachgoers crowd on Santo Amaro Beach near Lisbon on Thursday
Santo Amaro beach was crowded on Thursday during the Portuguese holiday
The government on Wednesday also announced mandatory Covid-19 tests for companies with 150+ employees and for certain public gatherings.
Portugal was hit by a strong coronavirus wave over the winter and imposed strict detention measures from mid-January to mid-March before beginning the gradual easing of security measures.
As part of the scheme, bars and nightclubs will remain closed until the end of August.
Portugal, a country of just over 10 million people, has reported a total of 855,432 infections and 17,043 deaths since the pandemic began.
A total of 910 new coronavirus cases and six deaths were recorded in Portugal on Thursday.
This is the highest daily number of new cases in the country of 10 million people since March 15.
Most of the new cases have been concentrated in and around Lisbon.
“The situation in the Lisbon area is worrying,” said Cabinet Minister Mariana Vieira da Silva at a press conference. “We’re struggling to reduce cases.”
It comes after the UK government made a last-minute decision last week to remove Portugal from their “green” travel list because of the presence of a new variant of Covid.
This “Nepal variant” is believed to be a freshly mutated version of the Indian variant that is already in the UK and is causing the falls to skyrocket.
“Amber” rules mean that travelers coming home from Portugal today will have to self-isolate for 10 days and pay for two PCR tests performed on Day 2 and Day 8.
Breaking quarantine could result in a £ 10,000 fine, while those who fail to test on day 2 and day 8 of their self-isolation face a £ 2,000 fine.
And those who provide incorrect information on their passenger search forms could be fined £ 10,000 or 10 years in prison – or both.
Meanwhile, Environment Secretary George Eustice has told the British to avoid all overseas travel this year to avoid getting caught.
Travel bosses have furiously denounced the sudden rule change, saying ministers are risking job carnage in a sector that has already spent a year getting through.
Brits have been stranded overseas while others face thousands of pounds as they struggled to get home before the new quarantine rules went into effect.
And Portuguese politicians have called the decision “unfathomable”, lamenting the loss of valuable tourist revenue to the British – who are usually one of the largest groups to visit the country and currently one of the most vaccinated populations in Europe.
“We take note of the British decision to remove Portugal from the ‘green travel list’, a decision the logic of which is incomprehensible,” the State Department said last week.
“Portugal continues to implement its prudent and phased deconfining plan with clear rules for the safety of those who live here or visit us.”
Elidérico Viegas, president of the Algarve Hotel and Tourism Association, said the region is being forced to pay the price of rising cases in the capital, Lisbon.
“It’s unfair because the Algarve is trapped in the middle because the number of cases in the region is below what is considered to be a safe minimum,” he said.
Britain will review the “green” countries in three weeks. Viegas hopes Portugal will be added to the list again.
Portugal is currently seeing an increase in Covid cases as the country exits lockdown but is still seeing fewer cases than the UK every day.
It lags way behind the UK on vaccination, however, as around 40 percent of people have received at least one dose – while 60 percent of Britons have received at least one dose.
Many vacationers and travel agents expressed anger when the announcement on Portugal was made last Thursday, as it came just 17 days after the international holiday travel ban was lifted.
Alan and Lisa Pechey from Cambridge, vacationing in Lisbon, paid a total of £ 800 to fly back to Gatwick earlier than planned on Monday.
Ms. Pechey, 66, told the PA news agency, “It was really expensive and I think the government was totally unfair to throw this to us on Thursday because it really totally ruined our vacation.
“We flew out on Monday to take a break, but from Thursday we were extremely stressed.”
Ana Pacheco, 28, from Islington, north London, on vacation near Porto, paid £ 300 to fly home.
She said, “I lost money on this trip, about £ 300 extra, because I was supposed to be back tomorrow night, so it’s pretty annoying.
“I think there should have been more time to get home – at least a week would have been better.”
Marcus Gardner, 26, of Battersea, south London, who was flying from Porto to Gatwick, said: “Our flight was much busier than before – there were few people on the plane but it was at full capacity on the return.
“Lots of people were rushing home and at the airport lots of people were waiting for a flight.”
Rory Boland, editor of What? Travel said: “Passengers attempting to leave Portugal before quarantine rules go into effect will wonder why no more was notified, e.g.
“Between sold out flights, expensive fares and difficulty getting tests on time, the government’s current approach to managing the changing travel situation is clearly flawed.
“These issues need to be addressed before the next Green List review to prevent another catastrophic summer travel season.”
The Ministry of Transport said the situation in Portugal calls for “quick action to protect the profits made with the introduction of the vaccine”.
It states that the positivity rate for coronavirus tests in Portugal has almost doubled since the travel lists were first created four weeks earlier.
The DfT added that 68 cases of the Indian mutation, also known as the Delta variant, have been identified in Portugal.
Separate test and trace numbers show that between May 6 and May 19, 200 arrivals from Portugal were tested.
Three of these people tested positive for the coronavirus.