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Portugal says exclusion from UK’s safe travel list ‘not backed by facts’

Tourists walk during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in downtown Albufeira, Portugal

Britain’s decision to persist with a quarantine regime for travellers from Portugal, which has hit the tourism-dependant country hard, is not supported by facts, its foreign minister said on Friday.

Portugal initially won praise for its quick response to the pandemic but a steady count of several hundred new cases per day in and around Lisbon in the past two months has worried authorities at home and abroad.

It was this month left off an initial list of more than 50 countries Britain considered safe enough for travel without coronavirus-related restrictions, and left off again when London updated the list on Friday, adding more countries including Estonia and Slovakia.

Portugal regretted a decision “that is neither substantiated nor backed by the facts,” Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva tweeted.

The need for holidaymakers returning to Britain from Portugal to quarantine for 14 days has particularly affected the southern Algarve region, popular among Britons for its sandy beaches and golf courses.

Other European nations including Ireland, Belgium and Finland have also imposed travel restrictions on Portugal.

Spain, meanwhile, has stayed on the UK safe list, despite a sharp increase in new cases.

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