The Portuguese government is restricting its citizens from travelling abroad by land, sea or air.
The Portuguese government has announced that the border with Spain will be closed from Friday for an initial period of two weeks in an attempt to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, which has reached alarming levels in Portugal this month.
It is not just the land border with Spain that is being closed: departures by sea and air to other countries will be limited. “The government will adopt the measure limiting travel abroad for the next 15 days for national citizens. Except in exceptional cases, in the next fortnight, nationals will be limited to departures by air, land or river”, said the Portuguese Minister of the Interior, Eduardo Cabrita, on Thursday.
Cabrita announced the border closure at the end of the debate on the renewal of the state of emergency in the Parliament of the Republic. The extension of this exceptional measure has once again been approved with the support of the main parties. The border closure between Spain and Portugal was already in place between 17 March and 1 July 2020.
The Spanish Foreign Minister, Arancha González Laya, acknowledged on Thursday that the Spanish and Portuguese governments are finalising a “temporary limitation” of border mobility that will affect both Portuguese and Spaniards. She indicated that this decision is being taken at Portugal’s proposal: they are working on a “limitation agreed by common consent”. He clarified that these restrictions would affect both Portuguese and Spanish citizens living in cross-border areas, but hoped that they would understand that the decision has ” a public safety mission to help us limit the increase in contagion”.
For the moment, no details are known, such as how this measure will affect cross-border workers. González Laya spoke of “mechanisms that allow us to continue with the day-to-day life of our cross-border citizens”, without specifying further.
Portugal has now become the sixth EU country to announce the closure of its borders. The first to do so was Denmark, on 12 November, and in principle the measure is scheduled to last until 11 May, although the Danish government has indicated that it will lift it as soon as the situation allows, which in principle should be sooner. The next to follow in its footsteps was Hungary, which approved the closure of its borders on 30 December until this Thursday, although the measure has been extended until 1 March. On 9 January it was Austria’s turn to close its borders until 7 February, while Finland announced on 11 January that it was doing the same until 25 February, according to the European Commission, to which countries must notify such decisions. The last country to join the list, before Portugal’s announcement, was Belgium, which has closed its borders from Wednesday until 5 February. Schengen member Norway has also had its borders closed from 12 November until 9 February.