António Costa announced this measure after having participated by videoconference in an informal meeting of European Union leaders aimed at coordinating measures to combat covid-19 among the 27 Member States.

"The Government has decided to completely stop flights to the United Kingdom and from the United Kingdom to Portugal as of Saturday, in order to reduce the risk of contagion based on the new variant" of the coronavirus, said the executive's leader Portuguese.

António Costa said that, as of Saturday, "only flights with a humanitarian nature will be carried out to ensure the repatriation of Portuguese who wish to return to Portugal, or of British citizens who wish to return to the United Kingdom".

According to the prime minister, during this informal meeting of leaders of the European Union, there was, globally, "a manifestation of great concern regarding the development of the pandemic, namely with regard to the growth driven by the new British variant, especially in countries that have closer relations with the United Kingdom, as is the case in Portugal".

In terms of borders, António Costa considered that the "most important" decision taken at the informal meeting was precisely related to the end of flights to the United Kingdom, or from the United Kingdom to Portugal.

At the informal summit of heads of state and government of the European Union, the prime minister stressed that it was decided to "keep the borders open" between the different member states.