The government of Portugal has reinstated internal border controls with Spain last Sunday, ahead of the Catholic Festival World Youth Day that is set to be held in Lisbon between August 1 and 6.
The controls will remain in force until after the festival ends, on August 7, and will be carried out by the Immigration and Borders Service SEF, with the assistance of the Public Security Police (PSP) and the National Republican Guard (GNR).
“Given the complexity of the event and the need to guarantee internal security, the Government understood that it was necessary to reintroduce documentary control at land borders,” Portugal’s SEF has said in a Twitter statement, listing the 21 borders posts where controls would be reinstated.
The border forces are also using the ‘SEFMobile’ system in border controlx, which enables them to carry out the checks “in a mobile, efficient, fast and safe way”.
The Portuguese authorities will also be collaborating with the Spanish ones, for enabling a smooth flow of the border procedures for all travellers between the two countries until August 7.
Border controls will also be reinforced at the country’s five international airports with 325 inspectors:
- Lisbon Airport
- Porto Airport
- Faro Airport
- Madeira Airport
- Ponta Delgada Airport
“Special focus will be given to carrying out selective controls based on prior risk analysis for Schengen flights and for children under 18 when unaccompanied by those exercising parental responsibilities,” SEF has said in a statement laying down the measures that will be taken in these two weeks.
The country has considered internal border controls are a necessary measure due to the size, characteristics, complexity of the event, as well as the expected influx of people expected to attend and media visibility.
On Saturday alone, the first day that the border controls were brought back, more than 77,000 people were inspected, and 17 of them were rejected entry into the Portuguese territory, 15 at land and two at air controls.
According to the authorities, two people have been arrested: one at the Faro airport and the other at Lisbon’s. While the first is being accused for document fraud and illegal stay, the second is suspected for human trafficking.
World Youth Day 2023, a Catholic festival, was originally scheduled to be celebrated in summer 2022. In April 2020, the Holy See postponed it to August 2023. This year’s theme of the event will be “Mary arose and went with haste”.
Travellers are warned that due to border checks they might experience longer waiting times.
Reintroducing border controls for a few weeks is a common thing amongst the Schengen countries. At the beginning of July, Lithuania introduced border controls due to the NATO summit that was held July 11 and 12 in Vilnius.