August 3rd, 2020
Since my last update about the situation in Portugal regarding Covid-19 and international travel, there have been a few changes. Enough to warrant a fresh article, at any rate. From now on, my intention is to update this one when I hear of significant changes so I’ll change the date accordingly.
Borders, flights and quarantine
The land border between Spain and Portugal officially opened without restrictions on 1st July.
Portugal is allowing flights between EU and Schengen countries plus the UK because of the Brexit arrangements.
It is also accepting visitors from countries where the disease appears to be under control, namely Algeria, Australia, Canada, South Korea, Georgia, Japan, New Zealand, Ruanda, Thailand, Uruguay, Morocco, Tunisia and China. No quarantine is required n Portugal unless you test positive for Covid-19 upon or after arrival, although it may be necessary when you fly home.
These could change so it’s best to consult this website to see the current status for flying into individual EU countries as a tourist.
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 non-leisure reasons to see under what conditions you might be allowed in.
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?
As mentioned in my last update, Madeira and the Azores require visitors to produce a negative Covid-19 test completed within 72 hours of departure or to be tested on arrival, free of charge.
A negative test, within 72 hours before arrival, is required on mainland Portugal for arrivals from Brazil and the USA, and again, these flights are intended only for Portuguese nationals and residents, not for leisure travel.
Portuguese nationals and residents 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 not allowing non-Portuguese passengers to board without a test.
What to expect at the airport
Portuguese airports conduct temperature checks and you’ll be asked to complete a form with your contact details just in case it turns out you’ve been in contact with someone who has the disease. You’ll need to wear a mask inside the airport and on board the plane.
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, is going from strength to strength with around 17,000 establishments proudly displaying the stamp of approval.
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.
Safety measures in place in Portugal
Most of the country is in what’s called a State of Alert, which basically means that most establishments are open, although bars and nightclubs have very restricted hours, and gatherings are limited to 20 people.
In the Greater Lisbon area, the parishes that were under tighter restrictions are now in a State of Contingency, in line with the rest of the Lisbon area. Gatherings here are limited to 10 people.
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 (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 sanitize your hands.
You don’t ‘have’ to wear a face mask outdoors, unless it’s not possible to maintain the 2-metre distance from other people but in busy public places, it is still recommended.
In a bid to clamp down on the street parties and large gatherings that have led to a surge in cases, the consumption of alcohol in the street is prohibited.
There are now fines ranging from €100 to €500 for individuals and €1,000 to €5,000 for businesses for non-compliance.
Places that attract lots of people, e.g. churches, river beaches, promenades and even the medieval centre of Óbidos have a one way system for pedestrians in a bid to help everyone maintain social distancing.
Only beaches with life guards are open to the public and they have 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.
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