Portugal to quarantine passengers on indirect flights from UK, Brazil

FILE PHOTO: A TAP Air Portugal plane taxis at Lisbon's airport during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Lisbon, Portugal July 17, 2020. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante/File Photo/File Photo

LISBON (Reuters) - Passengers flying indirectly to Portugal from Britain or Brazil must present a negative COVID-19 test taken 72 hours before departure and quarantine for two weeks upon arrival from Sunday onwards, the interior ministry said on Saturday.

The move is designed to close a loophole which allowed travelers from Britain and Brazil to reach Portugal by stopping over in a country from which travel was authorized.

Direct commercial or private flights to and from Britain and Brazil have been banned since January to limit the spread of COVID-19 variants.

Direct humanitarian and repatriation flights will still be authorized but passengers must present a negative COVID-19 test taken 72 hours before departure and quarantine for 14 days.

The measures are due to be reviewed on March 16.

Portugal’s tourism minister told the BBC on Friday the country hoped to allow British tourists who could prove they had tested negative or were immune to COVID-19 into the country from May 17, when England lifts its ban on international travel.

Portugal, which has so far reported 808,405 COVID-19 cases and 16,486 deaths, is set to begin a sector-by-sector lifting of restrictions next week after nearly two months of strict lockdown following a devastating surge in cases at the beginning of the year.

Reporting by Victoria Waldersee; Editing by Christina Fincher