German Chancellor Angela Merkel has criticized Portugal for allowing British tourists to enter despite the more contagious Delta coronavirus strain actively circulating in the UK.
This is reported by Politico.
“I regret that we have not yet been able to achieve uniform behavior among member countries regarding travel restrictions. This has unpleasant consequences, “ Merkel said at a joint press conference in Berlin with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
The EU is “retreating” from its goal of establishing consistent travel rules, she said, as countries take different approaches to the surge of the new strain in the UK.
“We now have a situation in Portugal that could possibly have been avoided, and so we have to work even harder on this. We have made good progress in recent months, but we are not yet where I would like the European Union to be, “ the Chancellor said.
The number of coronavirus infections in Portugal has soared in recent weeks, from fewer than 500 reported cases per day in May to more than 1,000 recently.
The Delta strain, first discovered in India, is responsible for more than 60% of infections in Lisbon and the Tagus Valley region, according to local authorities. On Friday, the government imposed a weekend travel ban on the capital to stop its spread.
The rise in infections comes about a month after Portugal, which currently holds the EU presidency, opened up to British tourists, although other countries such as Germany and France have imposed strict travel bans on the UK.
The EU has yet to add the UK to its list of countries deemed safe enough to lift entry bans. The list, however, is not mandatory for EU countries.