The lack of agreement between Portugal and Brazil for the recognition of Covid-19 vaccines has imposed obstacles on those traveling to the European country, such as the mandatory 14-day quarantine even for those who have already been completely immune.
Although the entry of tourists from Brazil remains prohibited, the rules in force still allow an intense flow of people between the two countries. Anyone with Portuguese citizenship or the citizenship of another European Union (EU) country is allowed to enter Portugal from Brazil.
Foreigners residing legally in the country, people with a work or study visa or whose travel is due to medical reasons can also travel. There are also cases of family reunification with residents on Portuguese territory.
With a community of around 1 million Portuguese in Brazil and around 300,000 Brazilians in Portugal, authorities have to deal with numerous cases of vaccines being applied outside the EU.
Although technical meetings began in July and the subject was on the agenda of the meeting between the presidents of the two countries, in Brasilia, in early August, there is still no pact for recognition in Portugal. vaccines applied in Brazil.
The stalemate comes at a time when other European countries, such as France, Germany and Spain, have already reopened their borders for vaccinated Brazilian tourists – only Spain, however, is accepting entry from those who have received doses of Coronavac. According to the Portuguese Foreign Ministry, a further meeting on the issue is scheduled for September.
Without an agreement in place, those who manage to enter the country from Brazil also struggle to obtain the European digital certificate, known as the health card or Covid passport, an electronic document that attests to one of the three conditions. : a complete vaccination against Covid -19, cure of the disease for less than 6 months or recent laboratory test with negative result for the virus.
The digital certificate is increasingly used as a condition of access to establishments and services, such as the interior space of restaurants and participation in classes in gymnasiums.
Even without the bilateral agreement, it is possible for people vaccinated in Brazil to have access to the digital certificate of Portugal. The path, however, is bureaucratic. To obtain the document, the country accepts only vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency: Pfizer, Moderna, Janssen and AstraZeneca. Coronavac, widely used in Brazil and already approved by the WHO (World Health Organization), is not on the list.
But even those who have been immunized with drugs approved in Europe still face other hurdles. It is necessary to seek validation from the Portuguese health authorities, and, so far, only those with a user number – registration identification in the NHS, the National Health Service – can apply for the certificate. The requirement means that, in practice, the issuance of the document is limited to Portuguese or citizens of other EU countries and legal residents in the country.
In Brazilian support groups on social networks and immigrant support associations, many people report difficulties in obtaining the European digital certificate. “My mother was vaccinated with two doses of AstraZeneca in Brazil. I have already contacted the health center several times and so far I do not have the certificate, ”says Jessica Barbosa, a Brazilian who has lived in Portugal for 14 years and who took her mother to live in the country there. two months ago.
Not having the document makes it difficult to access cultural and social life. The Portuguese government did not respond to the article’s question about the number of people immunized in Brazil who have already obtained the European digital certificate in the country.
Those who do not have the certificate can, alternatively, test negative for Sars-CoV-2 to enter restaurants, concerts and other activities, but it is a more expensive, labor-intensive and , more and more often, refused by commercial establishments. .
Portuguese residing in São Paulo for more than 40 years, the retired Manuel Ferreira dos Santos is already immunized with two doses of Coronavac. He had planned to return to his family’s town, in the Braganza region, to participate in the grape harvest, harvesting grapes for wine production, but he ended up giving up due to the mandatory quarantine. Upon arrival in the country, travelers must provide an address to the authorities, who can call or check in person for isolation. Anyone caught breaking the rule is liable to fines and prosecution.
“I have lived outside Portugal for a long time, I no longer have a family doctor or contact with the health center. My kids have called and emailed, but the information is conflicting. When I saw that I had to stay isolated, I decided to leave the harvest plans for next year, ”he says.
Foreigners vaccinated in Portugal, but without a user number, cannot obtain the digital certificate either. If the majority of people in this situation are immigrants in an irregular situation, there are also foreigners with all their papers in order, including Europeans, who also had difficulty obtaining an identification number from the National Service of health.
The absence of the bilateral agreement and the renewal of the entry ban for Brazilian tourists until the end of September have frustrated professionals in the tourism sector, in whom it is feared that Portugal will lose space in favor of other European destinations which freed vaccinated travelers. from Brazil.