July 7, 2020 / 7:51 PM / a month ago

Portugal in talks with Britain ahead of review of UK 'travel corridor' decision

Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa speaks during a joint news conference with his Italian counterpart Giuseppe Conte (not pictured) at Sao Bento Palace, amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Lisbon, Portugal, July 7, 2020. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante

LISBON (Reuters) - Talks between Portuguese and British authorities are under way ahead of the UK’s reevaluation of its decision to keep Portugal off its list for coronavirus restriction-free travel, Prime Minister Antonio Costa said on Tuesday.

“The foreign minister had a long conversation with his counterpart,” Costa told a news conference. “It is very important we build a confident relationship.”

Last week Portugal was left off a list of more than 50 countries that Britain considers safe enough for travel without coronavirus-related restrictions, meaning holidaymakers returning from Portugal would have to quarantine for 14 days.

British Transport Minister Grant Shapps said on Monday the decision will be reviewed by July 27.

“We have maintained permanent contact with the United Kingdom,” Costa added.

The exclusion will be a major deterrent for British tourists, who accounted for 2.1 million of Portugal’s foreign visitors last year, and is set to hurt the country’s tourism-dependent economy, especially the southern Algarve region.

Over a dozen countries have imposed restrictions on travel from Portugal as a doggedly high toll of several hundred new cases per day concentrated on the outskirts of Lisbon in the past month has worried authorities.

Portugal has only reported 1,629 fatalities, which it attributes to its high testing rate, though Britain has surpassed the country in terms of tests per million people, according to the worldometer.info website.

Reporting by Victoria Waldersee, Catarina Demony; Editing by Chris Reese and Leslie Adler

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