Portugal bans travel in and out of Lisbon with whole country on UK amber list

17 June 2021, 19:24

Lisbon has seen a surge in cases, with experts believing the Delta variant is being transmitted there
Lisbon has seen a surge in cases, with experts believing the Delta variant is being transmitted there. Picture: PA

By Daisy Stephens

Travel in and out of the Portuguese capital of Lisbon is to be banned from this weekend as authorities respond to a spike in new Covid cases in the city.

The ban in the area, where about 2.8 million people live, comes into effect from 3pm on Friday in an effort to contain the surge.

Cabinet spokeswoman, Mariana Vieira da Silva, said on Thursday: "We're aware (the travel ban) isn't easy and that it's not what people want, but we feel it's necessary to protect the rest of the country."

The announcement comes just weeks after the UK Government added the country to the amber travel list after infection rates crept up, although on Wednesday it was revealed that the Government was considering plans to allow fully vaccinated Brits to travel to amber list countries without having to quarantine upon return.

The travel restrictions in Lisbon are open-ended, pending periodic reviews.

Flights out of Lisbon airport are exempt from the ban, as are work-related journeys.

Police control points will check travellers.

Read more: Manchester Arena bombing: Security failings led to 'missed opportunities' to save lives

Read more: Covid infections show signs of 'slowing down' with cases 'to decline within two weeks'

Portugal is experiencing a spike in new daily cases not seen since February, with over half of them in the capital where experts believe the highly contagious Delta variant is in circulation.

In Lisbon, an estimated 254 people per 100,000 had the virus on Thursday, nearly three times the national rate of 90.

While public hospitals are not yet under pressure, some of them are readying for more Covid-19 admissions.

Doctors have warned the changes could bring new delays for regular health appointments, adding to a backlog that has built up over the past 15 months.

Portugal, with a population of 10.3 million, has inoculated 42 per cent of its population with a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, and a quarter have had both jabs.

Lisbon City Council announced on Thursday that it will open vaccination centres seven days a week, from 8 am to 10 pm, from 1 July in an effort to speed up inoculations, and the General Directorate for Health said it was cutting the period between taking the two AstraZeneca vaccine doses from 12 to eight weeks amid the emergence of "worrying variants".