The Minister of Foreign Affairs pointed out today that "a very big effort" is needed to stop the spread of the coronavirus "to save Christmas" from the families of the approximately 5 million Portuguese and Portuguese descendants abroad.
Augusto Santos Silva was speaking at the European Affairs Parliamentary Committee, where he was heard about the European Union (EU) leaders' summit dedicated to the pandemic that takes place on Thursday by videoconference.
The minister was questioned by MPs from the PS, BE and PCP about the possibility of new restrictions on international travel due to the current worsening of the epidemiological situation, with the blocker Fabíola Cardoso referring in particular to the usual flow of Portuguese abroad to meet with families in Portugal at Christmas time.
"I think we have to make a big effort these days to stop the spread of the virus just so we can save Christmas," said the minister.
Stressing that he did not want to give a “dramatic tone” to the expression, Santos Silva explained that, since Christmas “is a very important family gathering occasion”, in Portugal it potentially involves the families of 2,3 million Portuguese residents abroad, a number that amounts to 5 million when those born abroad are also counted.
“It is very important that in Europe we are able to contain the virus in order to preserve this greater asset that is intra-European mobility”, said Santos Silva, adding that outside Europe, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs continues “to strongly advise against non-essential travel "," Namely for countries outside the EU and countries without Portuguese diplomatic representation ".
In the responses to MPs who questioned him about possible new border closures in the EU in the face of the current worsening of the pandemic, the minister insisted that Portugal has always been and continues to be against such measures, but considered that all EU countries “learned a lot from the result of that ”and they know today that whenever there was coordination,“ better conditions to combat the pandemic ”were created.