Portugal follows the position of the European Commission “that quarantines of a general nature should not be adopted unilaterally”, imposing on travelers 14 days of withdrawal even if they do not show any covid-19 symptoms. One of the countries that currently has this measure in place is Spain.
DN questioned the Ministry of Internal Administration about whether bilateral negotiations are being developed with other countries to exempt Portuguese citizens from the quarantine obligation, as other European capitals have already admitted to doing. A question that the ministry led by Eduardo Cabrita leaves unanswered, but admitting negotiations within the framework of the European Union with the same purpose.
“Portugal does not comment on the sovereign decisions of other Member States to combat the pandemic and to which Portuguese citizens who cross their respective borders are subject”, begins by mentioning the ministry, but adding that the country “supports the European Commission’s position that general quarantines should not be adopted unilaterally” – that is, applied to all people arriving in a territory, even if they do not have any symptoms of covid-19.
The MAI points out the recommendations presented last week by the European Commission, aiming at the “gradual restoration of free movement” in the European space and which presuppose the “carrying out negotiations in which Portugal participates with the other member states”.
The objective set by the European Commission is to gradually lift restrictions on movement within the European space, as uniformly as possible, at least among countries that present a similar epidemiological situation. The aim is, to a large extent, the return of some tourist activity, a sector that assumes enormous importance in the GDP of some countries, including Portugal.
But this is a competence of member states where the European Commission makes no more than recommendations.
The quarantine issue has already opened up a conflict between France and Spain. The 14-day isolation determined by the Spanish government, which does not provide for exceptions as to origin, took the French by surprise. At the end of last week, the Elysee Palace announced that the same measure would be adopted for Spanish citizens entering French territory. An exception, given that France does not require quarantine for travelers arriving from the Schengen area. Nor from the United Kingdom, the result of a bilateral agreement signed with the British (who have already announced that they will adopt the general quarantine, but have exempted French citizens from this obligation).
Within the European Union, Italy (which wants to reopen tourism and will not demand isolation from visitors), through the voice of the Minister of Transport, has already announced that it is negotiating with Germany, France and Spain, so that the citizens of these countries circulate without obligation to quarantine.
In Spain, according to the diploma that imposes confinement, in force since May 15, people arriving from other countries “must remain at their home or accommodation”, being able to leave just to buy food, pharmaceuticals and basic necessities, be assisted in health centers, services and establishments and for reasons of force majeure or necessity. Cross-border workers, persons employed by transport companies or health professionals who travel for professional reasons are excluded from confinement.
According to the newspaper Public, France was not the only country to be surprised by the quarantine imposed by Spain on travelers – Portugal was also not previously informed of this determination. The question now is how long this impediment will last – the law determines that it will be in effect for the duration of the state of alarm and in its eventual extensions.
What the DN found the expectation, on the national side, is that the evolution of the epidemiological situation and the conversations at the European level will eventually lead to a relatively uniform framework of rules within the EU, and without general quarantines.
For now, the control of land borders with Spain continues until June 15 and there are no commercial flights, so the movement of people between the two countries is very restricted.