LISBON (Reuters) – Frustrated travellers rushed home to England cutting short summer holidays in Portugal on Friday to dodge a mandatory quarantine reimposed by London as coronavirus cases in the southern European nation continued to rise.
British authorities announced on Thursday anyone arriving in England from Portugal, excluding the Azores and Madeira archipelagos, after 4 a.m. (0300 GMT) on Saturday will need to self-isolate for 14 days.
“It’s typical British arrogance,” English tourist Jeremy Moore said as he waited at the check-in queue at Lisbon airport. “I know how sloppy hygiene measures are in the UK where I live.”
Ilona Chylicka, a Pole who has lived in England for more than a decade, had to book a last-minute flight.
“It feels very safe here,” she said. “I don’t see the reason why we should (quarantine) but obviously they are imposing those restrictions so we have to go back.”
Portugal spent only three weeks off the list of countries on England’s self-quarantine rule.
“It is annoying they keep changing it all the time,” said English visitor Ellie Cook, who also had to change her travel plans. “It wasn’t very fair.”
Home to 10 million people, Portugal initially won praise for its response to the pandemic but cases have crept back up, with the health authority reporting on Thursday 585 new infections.
British Ambassador to Portugal Chris Sainty said on Twitter he understood that the quarantine rule, which hit the tourism-dependent country hard, was “disruptive” but said the government took the decision to protect public health.
Portugal’s Economy Minister Pedro Siza Vieira said the decision could strain relations between the two countries.
“It is a relationship we will try to maintain – in the best possible terms – but it is difficult given these changes in attitudes and behaviours,” he said late on Thursday.
(Reporting by Catarina Demony and Miguel Pereira; Editing by Janet Lawrence)