The minister of foreign affairs revealed that Portugal will resume commercial flights with Mozambique. Passengers will have to perform two Covid-19 tests and be quarantined on arrival.
Portugal will resume “within days” commercial flights from Mozambique, but only for essential trips, and with passengers required to present a negative result from a recent coronavirus test before embarking, as well as being tested on arrival and being obliged to spend a period in quarantine, the minister of foreign affairs told Lusa.
According to Augusto Santos Silva, the order ending the suspension of flights involves his ministry and the Ministry of Internal Administration, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Infrastructure, and is currently being drawn up.
Commercial flights will be only for essential journeys, such as “for purposes of work, study, family reunification, return of residents from Portugal or residents in Portugal to Portugal,” Santos Silva said.
Adding that “only essential trips are allowed at this stage of the pandemic, not yet those for tourism,” the minister stressed the additional conditions: “A negative test on embarking, test on arrival and a period of quarantine.”
The two repatriation flights already planned will still take place, before commercial flights between Portugal and Mozambique resume, he added.
Santos Silva recalled that the reason for the original suspension “was the irruption of a new variant and the need for the health authorities to have sufficient time to carefully analyse the effects of the new variant.
“The health and scientific authorities have had the opportunity to learn more about the new variant, about the ability of the vaccines being used to respond to it, and that knowledge has allowed us to lower the level of restrictions, albeit very carefully, because we need to be very cautious in the management of the pandemic,” he said.
Flights to Mozambique have been suspended since midnight on 28 November, by decision of the European Union, a decision that Portugal opposed.
On Thursday its prime minister, António Costa, spoke out against the restriction of flights from countries such as Mozambique, in comments made in the first debate of the Standing Committee of parliament after the president, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, dissolved the assembly and called snap elections for January 30.
Santos Silva recalled that “the decision to suspend flights from Southern Africa was taken within the European Union, with the participation of Portugal, but taken by all 27 member states.
“We expressed many doubts and reservations about that decision, particularly about the inclusion of Mozambique in the group of countries neighbouring South Africa that should be considered,” he said. “However, these last few days have shown that, fortunately, the fears that motivated this decision were unfounded.
“France has already resumed flights with South Africa and Portugal will resume flights, in the case of Mozambique, we have no direct flights with South Africa,” he noted. “Certainly other countries will take similar decisions.”
Worldwide, the Covid-19 pandemic has claimed at least 5,286,793 lives, out of more than 267, 88 million cases, since the disease was detected in December 2019 in China.
The respiratory disease is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, detected in late 2019 in Wuhan, a city in central China, and currently with variants identified in several countries.
A new variant, Omicron, classified as “worrying” by the World Health Organisation, was detected in southern Africa, but since South African health authorities sounded the alert on November 24, infections have been reported in 57 countries on all continents, including Portugal.