Portugal has confirmed it will reopen its borders to UK tourists from Monday.
That will be welcome news for Manchester City and Chelsea fans hoping to attend the rearranged Champions League final in Porto on May 29.
Uncertainty remains, however, over travel guidance with a Portuguese government minister having said supporters attending the game would need to be in and out of the country within 24 hours. They would also be transported to and from the game in ‘bubble’ situations.
This was not mentioned by UEFA when it announced on Thursday that the all-English showpiece was being moved from Istanbul to the Estadio do Dragao.
The European governing body said that up to 6,000 supporters from each club would be allowed to attend and that prompted many to start booking travel and accommodation.
UEFA has not commented on the situation after being contacted by the PA news agency.
The one element of confusion that has been cleared up, at least, is over whether British tourists can enter Portugal at all. The picture became very unclear on Thursday night when it was confirmed Portugal was extending its “state of calamity” – i.e. lockdown restrictions – until May 30.
Had that included incoming travel it would have prohibited any British tourists from visiting the country, irrespective of Portugal being added to the UK’s ‘green list’ from May 17.
Tourist body Visit Portugal reported on Friday that the minister of state for foreign affairs had confirmed UK tourists would be welcomed from Monday if they had recorded a negative PCR test within the previous 72 hours.
Nevertheless, fans are still frustrated at being unsure how long they can visit Portugal for. City are offering day trips to Porto for people who have obtained a ticket but many have already made independent arrangements with varying lengths of stay.
Kevin Parker, general secretary of the Manchester City Official Supporters Club, said: “There is no clarity, it is very frustrating.
“UEFA came out with this statement saying how wonderful they were, that the game was going to Porto, and each club were going to get 6,000 tickets, and tickets would soon be on sale. And on that basis everybody started booking their flights and accommodation.
“Then we saw the words spoken by the Portuguese minister yesterday, which came as a shock. Since then UEFA has been very quiet. It’s a nightmare, to be honest.
“Everything is up in the air. Can we go Friday and come back Sunday or do we have to go Saturday?
“UEFA seemed to be suggesting they were delighted they were able to sort things for the supporters but it would seem they haven’t.”
A tweet from the Chelsea Supporters Trust read: “We share the same frustrations of #CFC supporters. The situation regarding the #UCLfinal is a farce. We will seek clarity & will relay any info we receive.”
UEFA had emphasised the importance of supporters in its statement confirming its contentious decision to move the game to Porto instead of Wembley.
“To deprive supporters of the chance to see the match in person was not an option,” UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said.
A statement from City read: “We are very mindful that our supporters have a number of outstanding questions relating to the travel arrangements for the Champions League final and we are cognisant that answering these questions swiftly is all the more pressing given the tight timeframes in place.
“The club is continuing to engage with UEFA, who are in turn dealing with the relevant Portuguese authorities, to ascertain further information regarding the protocols that will be in place.
“We will provide clarity to our supporters as soon as we are able to and we thank supporters for their patience.”
Uncertainty came when Portuguese cabinet office minister Mariana Vieira da Silva said at a briefing on Thursday fans “will come and return on the same day, with a test done, in a bubble situation, on charter flights”.
In quotes carried on the BBC website, she added: “There will be two fan zones and from there they will be moved to the stadium and from the stadium to the airport, being in Portugal less than 24 hours.”
UEFA decided to move the final from Istanbul after Turkey was placed on the UK government’s ‘red list’ for international travel last week.
Lengthy discussions were held over the possibility of switching to Wembley but the UK Government was unable to agree to UEFA’s request for 2,000 quarantine exemptions for sponsors, VIPs and broadcasters. Portugal was then chosen as an alternative.
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