The withdrawal by the British government of Portugal from the list of green countries, which means “safe to travel”, had a seismic effect in Europe. Under the new rules, British citizens will not be able to travel to Portugal except for mandatory cases, and those returning from England to Portugal will remain in quarantine for 10 days.
The decision sparked reactions from British citizens and the Portuguese government. In the statement made by the Portuguese Foreign Ministry, the decision of the London government was called “unbelievable” and said: “Portugal continues to implement its cautious and gradual opening plan. security set for those who live here or visit us are clear and unequivocal. “
Thousands of Britons, who have already made their reservations in Portugal for their summer vacation, also complain of being victimized. Representatives of the tourism sector and tour operators, on the other hand, have said that the implementation of the decision for Portugal in general is “unfair” and that it will harm them.
“WE DID EVERYTHING ACCORDING TO THE BOOK”
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For example, Eliderico Viegas, Minister of the Association of Hotel and Tourism Companies of the Algarve, whose point of view was quoted by the Guardian newspaper, said that they are being charged for the growing number of cases in the capital Lisbon and said: “The Algarve roars from time to time. If you look, the number of cases in our region is even below the level considered safe. “
Speaking to the same newspaper, hoteliers and restaurateurs in Porto believe that the density of cases is around Lisbon and that they are unfairly punished. Hotel manager Ingrid Koeck said: “The number of cases here is even lower in the UK. There was not a single Covid-related death in Porto on the day the decision was announced. . “
The owner of the cafe, Francina Pinheiro, said: “We did everything according to the book. We disinfected everything, we reduced the number of tables. All had to accommodate our guests from abroad. But what happened? past? The doors have been closed in our face. “
THE TABLE LOOKS EXTREMELY GOOD
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It is impossible not to give credit to Pinheiro as Portugal has come a long way against Covid-19 after the double jump in the October-April period, when the daily number of cases was 16,000. In the numbers table daily cases, the average for early May fell to 370. But over the past two weeks, the chart has rapidly reversed. On Thursday, June 3, when the UK’s travel decision was announced, 769 new cases of Covid-19 were recorded.
So why has the daily number of cases in Portugal doubled again in 1 month? Ironically, a lot of people answer this question: “The British came, that’s how it happened”. For the long answer, we have to take a step back and look at Portugal’s fight against Covid-19 from the very beginning.
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THE VACCINATION WAS EXPANDED, THE LAUNCH HAS BEGUN, AFTER …
Portugal is one of the smallest countries in Europe with a population of 10 million. As of June 6, the total number of cases observed in the country was just over 852,000. The number of those who lost their lives was 17,000 32.
A total of 6.6 million doses of vaccine were administered in Portugal, which did not give good results in terms of vaccination compared to European averages. The percentage of those who have completed all their vaccinations has reached one-fifth of the population. As a result of all this, the strict Covid-19 measures announced in the country in January have been greatly relaxed and Portugal has opened its doors to international visitors.
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While things were going well in the country, an unexpected development occurred.
THE FINAL MATCH WAS TAKEN FROM ISTANBUL TO PORTO
Following the tightening of Covid-19 measures in Turkey, in a news item published on Sky Sports on May 6, it was claimed that Aston Villa, one of the English Premier League clubs, had filed a claim with the UEFA and FA.
According to the news, Aston Villa has demanded that the Champions League final, which will be played between two English clubs Chelsea and Manchester City on May 29, be moved from Istanbul to England, and even offered its own stadium, the Villa Park.
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TFF President Nihat Özdemir reacted to the allegations: “We are ready for the final with everything. All measures have been taken. Our negotiations with UEFA are continuing.
However, a week later, UEFA announced that negotiations with England were inconclusive and therefore the game would take place in Porto, Portugal. It has been announced that Istanbul will host the competition in 2023, the 100th anniversary of the Republic.
IS THE GROWING CASE FOR BRITISH FANS?
Portugal’s photo today, “Is it any chance for Istanbul to move the match from Istanbul to Porto at the last minute?” ask the question. Because the Portuguese believe that the reason for the sudden increase in the number of cases is the Indian variant worn by thousands of English fans who came to the country because of the match.
Indeed, in the first statements of the Portuguese government, it was indicated that the English fans would land in Portugal on the day of the match, would be taken to the stadium by bus and would return to their country without meeting anyone. at the end of the match. However, those restrictions were lifted two days before the game.
Sergio Miranda, who serves as a tour operator in the city, told the Guardian about the restrictions on UK fans: “It never happened, they lied from the start.” “It bothers many of us as much as the fans who drink and wander the streets without masks.”
16,500 BRITISH FILL THE STREETS OF PORTO
On Saturday afternoon, planes full of fans landed at Porto Airport every 5 minutes, Reuters reported on May 29. 40 flights were due to arrive from the UK during the day. According to the British Telegraph newspaper, a total of 16,500 English fans traveled to Porto for the match.
Suddenly, the bars along the Douro River, one of the city’s tourist areas, suddenly filled with Englishmen cheering their teams. England fans may have had yellow bracelets on their arms that indicated they had tested negative for Covid-19, but none of them wore masks. Portuguese police, who have tried to avoid minor clashes between supporters, have made no effort to enforce the mask-wearing rule in crowded places.
A Twitter user from Porto summed it up very clearly: “If I go to the beach I can be fined for not wearing a mask, but these monsters are allowed to form large groups. Plus, they’re destroying my town and drinking all day. . “
THE NEXT DAY WARNING HAS BEEN TAKEN
Faced with this situation, ARS Norte, the health organization responsible for the northern region of Portugal, the day after the match, advised participants of the celebrations in Porto to pay attention to symptoms of Covid-19 such as fever, cough, loss of smell and taste for 14 days and do not contact other knowledgeable people at close range. In the statement, it was stated that “the epidemic situation will be monitored”, adding that the warning was issued because the majority of fans in the region have not complied with the Covid-19 measures.
In fact, there was news in the British press that British politician Michael Gove, who traveled to Portugal with his son for the game, was in contact and therefore a meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson was postponed.
WHEN SPORT BECOMES CHAMPION, ENOUGH SHADOWS THE CAPITAL
While this is happening in Porto, the number of cases in the capital Lisbon has reportedly increased in conjunction with another football incident. After the city’s soccer team Sporting CP beat Boavista 1-0 on May 11, ending their 19-year desire to be champion, celebratory footage of Portuguese fans who took to the streets did not did not look like the British. Sports fans, who broke the rules of masks and social distancing, spent hours having fun, clapping and singing in the streets.
As a result, an alarm was raised in the city center when the number of cases in the capital surpassed 120 per 10,000 in two weeks.
Looking at Portugal in general, when the first week of May is compared to the first week of June, a 56% increase is seen in the 7-day averages. There was a 21% increase in the total number of cases across the country in 7 days.
INDIA VARIANT 5 PERCENT
Besides the number of cases, the variants are also of concern. According to data released by the Portuguese Institute of Health on May 28, the Delta variant, also known as the Indian variant, accounts for 5% of cases in the country. This corresponds to 185 cases per week. However, it is claimed that the actual number may be even 10 times higher. The remaining 5 percent of cases in the country are believed to be South African and Brazilian variants. It is not yet clear whether the arrival of English fans affected these percentages.
Despite all this, Portugal continues to take progressive normalization measures. Prime Minister Antonio Costa announced last week that the obligation to work from home would end after June 14, that the store opening time would be lifted and restaurants would serve until 1 a.m. Bars and nightclubs will remain closed.
Reminding citizens that it is still mandatory to use masks in public, Costa said: “Remember that the pandemic continues in cases where you cannot get away from others.”
Health ministry officials said that from June 6, people aged 40 and over will be vaccinated, and from June 20, those aged 30 and over will be vaccinated, and that in August, the turn will come from the 20-30 age group.
“WHO KNOWS WHAT WILL HAPPEN”
All of these efforts are aimed at getting back on the green list and reaching tourists as quickly as possible.
However, there are also those who think it is too late even if it turns green. Jose Santos, who lives in Porto and works as a cabin crew for an airline, said: “With Portugal on the UK’s green list and summer arrived, we had convinced ourselves that the worst was over. But who knows what’s going to happen now? he said.