Why is Portugal not an air bridge country? Quarantine rules explained

ESTONIA, Latvia, Slovakia, Slovenia and St Vincent and the Grenadines will be added to the list of travel corridors from July 28 in England.

But where does that leave holidaymakers keen to return to sunny Portugal? We look at the latest travel info.

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Why is Portugal not an air bridge country?

Portugal has again been left off England's holiday quarantine-free list, dashing the hopes of those keen for a sunshine break in the popular tourist destination.

It is understood the government's decision not to include Portugal on the list was down to a spike in coronavirus cases in the capital Lisbon.

It comes despite widespread reports that the government would reverse its snubbing of Portugal after intense lobbying from Portuguese officials.

Those reports suggested that Portugal was set to be added to a list of countries with “air bridges” to allow for quarantine free travel.

But on July 25 the Times reported that Westminster has "risked a deepening row with Portugal" after continuing to exclude it from its latest updated list.

The Department for Transport updated its list of more than 70 countries where travel is possible without isolating for two weeks on return to England.

Popular holiday destinations such as Spain and France are on the "travel corridor" list, but following its latest update, Portugal, Thailand and the US remain notable absentees.

The government announced that Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia, Slovenia and St Vincent and the Grenadines will all be added to the list of travel corridors from July 28 in England.

On July 23, the Spanish health ministry reported 971 new daily infections, the biggest daily increase since Spain's lockdown ended.

In the north-eastern region of Catalonia on Friday, July 24, authorities announced the two-week closure of discos and dance halls to curb the transmission of coronavirus.

As of July 25, Portugal had recorded 1,712 deaths and 49,692 coronavirus cases, according to Worldometers.

The Portuguese government has been angered by the "absurd" decision to leave the country off the original list of Covid-safe travel corridors this month.

Portugal's ambassador to the UK, Manuel Lobo Antunes, previously said his government would make "no attempt" to hide its disappointment at being left off the quarantine-free list.

He wrote in The Daily Telegraph earlier this month: "We feel the scientific arguments supporting the UK Government's decision, which we obviously respect, including data, models and other factors, were lacking in detail."

The country is one of the UK's favourite holiday destinations with 2.1 million holidaymakers heading there last year.

What are the quarantine rules?

Quarantine measures for those travelling to Britain from about 70 countries and overseas territories, including France and Italy, no longer apply, in a boost to the ailing aviation and travel industries hit by Covid-19.

The change took effect from July 10, just over a month after the UK began requiring international arrivals to self-isolate for two weeks.

Those arriving from higher-risk countries, such as the US, will still have to self-quarantine for 14 days.

But many popular destinations are now exempt, meaning millions of Britons are able to take summer holidays without having to stay at home when they return.

On its website, the government "continues to advise against non-essential international travel, except to countries and territories listed" on the exempted list.

These countries and territories have been assessed as no longer presenting an unacceptably high risk to British people travelling abroad.

However, the government points out that “the global coronavirus pandemic is ongoing. No travel is risk-free, and disruption is still possible”.

What is an air bridge?

Also called "travel corridors", air bridges allow tourists to travel between two countries without the need to quarantine.

Air-bridge agreements between countries, particularly those with low cases of coronavirus, give two-way travel without restrictions.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the changes are “good news for British people and great news for British businesses.”

But he stressed that the government could re-impose quarantine restrictions “in countries we are reconnecting with".

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