Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva contacted his Belgian counterpart and the Portuguese ambassador to Belgium to ask that the Algarve and Alentejo regions be removed from Belgium’s list of orange regions as soon as possible.
Santos Silva was concerned over the impact of Belgium’s colour coding system on tourism in Portugal.
“I was astonished to discover these two orange-listed regions,” said Santos Silva. While he acknowledges that new outbreaks of coronavirus have appeared in several districts around Lisbon, “the situation is totally different in the Algarve and Alentejo,” he said. “We have no data proving that the situation there is as serious as in Lisbon. There is a total lack of coordination at European level,” he lamented.
Belgium reportedly stressed that health experts have the final say on the colours assigned to each country. Meanwhile, on Thursday morning, Belgium’s Foreign Affairs website no longer mentioned the Algarve and Alentejo in its orange list for travellers going to the areas.
Both, however, remain on the orange list for returning, meaning that travellers with be asked – not forced – to quarantine upon return.
Luxembourg had also contested its status as an orange zone, which it was assigned as the country showed an increase in coronavirus infections compared to Belgium, while Luxembourg tests proportionally more people. The country is still listed as orange, with increased vigilance recommended.
The Brussels Times
Update: this story has been updated to clarify that the areas remain on the orange list for people returning to Belgium.