Last updated March 16th 2021
Read on for information about the situation in Portugal regarding Covid-19 and international travel. My intention is to update this article when I hear of significant changes so I’ll change the date accordingly, which will allow you to see how current the information is.
We are about to start the very tentative stages of the Deconfinement Plan, having been in full lockdown for the past two months. While slightly more businesses are able to open, most of us will still have the duty to stay at home except for essentials until after Easter.
You can see the details of each phase of the release from lockdown on the Safe Communities Portugal site.
Borders, flights and quarantine
Flights between Portugal and the UK and Brazil are banned until 31st March 2021 with the exception of repatriation or humanitarian flights.
Note that leisure travel from any other country is not currently permitted, so unless you are a Portuguese or EU citizen, the parent, spouse or child of one, or legally resident in Portugal, you may not be allowed in.
Check with your airline if travelling for professional or other essential reasons to see under what conditions you might be allowed in.
Rules could change at any time so it’s best to consult this website to see the current status for flying into individual EU countries as a tourist.
Consult the World Health Organisation advice and that of your own governments in terms of whether you should actually be travelling and what the implications of that, e.g. quarantine upon return, might be.
Even if you are lucky enough to have an insurance policy that covers you for Covid, it will likely be void if you travel against government policy.
Do you need a test?
For mainland Portugal, a negative (RT-PCR) Covid-19 test, completed within 72 hours of the departure of the last direct flight to Portugal, is required on mainland Portugal for arrivals from all countries.
Portuguese nationals and residents who are travelling for essential reasons can be tested upon arrival but will have to cover the cost of the test, i.e. €100. Airlines are being held responsible, i.e. fined, for allowing non-Portuguese passengers to board without a test.
You will need to complete a Passenger Locator Card online before boarding your flight.
As mentioned in my last update, Madeira and the Azores require all visitors to produce a negative (RT-PCR) Covid-19 test completed within 72 hours of departure or to be tested on arrival, free of charge.
You also have to fill in a passenger registration form for the Azores – see this site.
Fill in your passenger registration form fro Madeira here.
What to expect at the airport
Portuguese airports conduct walk through temperature checks upon arrival. Contactless systems have been implemented where possible and social distancing is in place.
You’ll need to wear a mask inside the airport and on board the plane. Hand sanitiser stations are distributed throughout airports.
More information from the Portuguese airport website here.
Clean & Safe Portugal
The Clean & Safe certification, which identifies establishments that are following the Health Authority guidelines for protective measures, was launched in April 2020 with great success. It is being revamped and relaunched this April so that the country is ready to receive tourists, hopefully from May 2021.
You can check in advance which restaurants, golf clubs, hotels etc. have the certificate on the Clean & Safe website.
See this article about checking the safety of your accommodation in Portugal and anywhere else.
Stayaway Covid app
If you have a smartphone, you can download the free Stayaway Covid app from Google Play or the App Store. It’s anonymous and will let you know if you’ve been in contact with anyone who has been identified as high risk so that you can get tested and take additional precautions to stop the virus spreading any further.
Safety measures in place in Portugal
Portugal is currently in what’s called a State of Emergency until at least 31st March (the law only permits extensions for 14 days at a time). This means you have to stay at home unless you must go out for essential things like food shopping or medical appointments.
The Portuguese government have released their plans for gradually opening up after more than 2 months of lockdown.
Museums, art galleries and monuments are due to reopen from April 5th, as are smaller shops and outdoor eateries.
All shops and restaurants, with restrictions on numbers, are due to open from 19th April.
Please see the information on Safe Communities Portugal for full details as they are too complex to try to cover here.
Just note that the dates are all dependent upon the prevailing data so if numbers of cases rise significantly, the plans may change.
What you need to know
The whole of Portugal is subject to minimum safety measures and the government has produced detailed guidelines for various sectors in order to protect workers and the public.
Face masks are obligatory in taxis, public transport and indoor establishments including restaurants, when they reopen, (not when you’re at the table) and hotels, although you won’t need to wear one in your own room, just in public spaces.
Whenever you enter an indoor establishment, e.g. museum, shop, tourist information centre, you’ll be expected to sanitise your hands. If you can pay by card, or even better, ‘contactless’, do so.
You have to wear a face mask outdoors, unless it’s possible to maintain the 2-metre distance from other people.
Places that attract lots of people have a one way system for pedestrians in a bid to help everyone maintain social distancing.
I’m not sure what the guidelines around beaches are for this year but in 2020 only beaches with life guards were open to the public and they had a traffic light system to control numbers. This table tells you what you need to know.
DECO, the consumer protection organisation in Portugal, has produced a booklet explaining your rights and duties in the realm of tourism and leisure during the pandemic.
Using Uber and taxis etc.
Capacity is reduced to 2/3 of the vehicle’s standard seating.
Wash or sanitise your hands before and after the journey and try to avoid touching things that aren’t necessary by keeping your hands on your lap during the journey.
The driver will clean the vehicle at least daily and disinfect door handles, seats and other points of common contact between clients.
As a client, you should put your own luggage in the boot (trunk) if you are able. You can only sit in the back seat and need to wear a face mask, as does the driver. Keep the windows open so that air can circulate freely.
How to get up to date information about the situation in Portugal
With new developments happening so frequently, I can’t commit to being the most up to date source of information for you.
The Safe Communities Portugal major incident page and their Facebook page are excellent sources of reliable information in English about the current situation in Portugal so please check their sites for the most recent and detailed information.
Visit Portugal also have additional information.
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