PORTUGAL has spoken out at being left out of the UK air bridge deal.

A spokesman said it was "disappointed" it had not been given the green light by the UK government whereas other countries with higher coronavirus infection rates have.

Anybody that chooses to visit continental Portugal from the UK will still be doing so against Foreign Office advice, invalidating any travel insurance policies, and will have to quarantine for 14 days when arriving back in the UK.

The Government recently revealed a list of more than 50 countries deemed safe enough for holidaymakers to travel to, without having to quarantine when they return to England.

The foreign office said the advice is based on a number of factors but there have been recent coronavirus outbreaks in Lisbon.

However, the Portuguese stress that the major tourist locations such as the Algarve are relatively unaffected.

They also point out Lisbon has been considered safe enough to host the final rounds of football's prestigious Champions League.

They say the country is safe to visit.

Luis Araújo, President of Portugal tourism said: " We are extremely disappointed to hear that the UK government has made the decision to omit Portugal from the air bridge agreement.

"The reality in Portugal is totally different from the one portrayed by this decision.

"We fully maintain and stress unwavering confidence in the safety of the nation to welcome back international visitors.

"Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Portuguese government and tourism industry has worked tirelessly to implement a carefully strategised and thoroughly actioned protocol for the tourism industry and wider society.

"From our viewpoint, the entire national territory should have been appropriately included in the UK travel corridor owing to the successful containment of the outbreak."

He added: "We wish to place on record that Portugal is the 6th highest country in Europe for the number of people tested and traced for COVID-19. Having already completed more than 1.1 million tests, which account for more than 10% of the population, the virus has been controlled in a safe manner. Naturally, logic would suggest that if other nations followed such a measure, statistics may have been reflected differently."

The minister also expressed "bewilderment" the Azores and Madeira have been removed from a list of countries and territories for which advice against ‘all but essential’ international travel is issued but remain on the quarantine list.

He added: It’s important to understand that the Portuguese tourism industry has been in operation for several weeks now, welcoming guests from around the world – entirely safely. British citizens are still able to visit Portugal. Madeira hasn’t recorded a single death since the beginning of the pandemic and has not seen an active case reported since 21st June. The Azores Islands represents just 0.4% of Portuguese cases since the beginning of the pandemic and has only three cases in total. Both the Madeira and Azores Islands are 100% ready to welcome British guests and have almost no risk of infection – yet remain on the list of destinations requiring quarantine upon return, when destinations proven to have higher infection rates are included."

He added the Algarve had only 1.5% of Portuguese cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

He said: "We will continue to implement strict safety protocol with the cross-sector cooperation of multiple establishments. We can only reiterate our full commitment to welcome all British tourists who choose to have their vacations in our country by providing them with safety, warmth, and the kindness of the people of Portugal.”