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COVID-19: Confusion as UK divided over Portugal quarantine rules

Quarantine restrictions for arrivals from Portugal have been imposed in Wales and Scotland due to a rise in coronavirus cases in the country — but the restrictions haven’t been implemented in England.

The UK government had been expected to reimpose a 14-day quarantine requirement in England for arrivals from Portugal, with the southern European country facing a rise in cases at the end of the summer holiday season.

But some travellers have asked for clarity after Wales and then Scotland removed Portugal from their travel corridor lists on Thursday, while England did not.

The UK government’s transport secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News it is “a bit like decisions on lockdowns and rules being applied in different parts of the UK”.

“The travel corridor is similar to that, I do realise it creates confusion for people not to have a single rule.”

Scotland and Wales have devolved powers, which allow them to impose their own restrictions.

Schnapps said the government uses data from the Joint Biosecurity Centre, looking at a number of factors, before deciding on whether to impose a quarantine for arrivals.

One mother who spent nearly £1,000 (€1,122) changing her family’s flights back from Portugal said the situation was “absolutely disgusting” after she discovered that the quarantine requirement wasn’t being brought in in England.

"It's cost us a lot more money and it's money we didn't need to spend now,” Kelly told LBC radio in the UK.

Dr Ricardo Baptista, health spokesman for the Social Democratic Party in Portugal said his country’s coronavirus situation "has not changed substantially compared to two weeks ago when we were green listed".

He said the decision made by Wales and Scotland was not based on science and suggested the indicators being used to decide if countries would be removed from the travel corridor lists, or lack thereof, were the problem.

"When we look at the way that countries are being blacklisted, it is not reflecting the reality of what those countries are facing currently," Baptista said.

He argued that using "a matrix of indicators" as crude measurements, such as daily case tolls, don't take into account variables like the percentage of the population being tested.

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