What are the rules for travelling to Portugal this summer?

·5 min read
The coastline at Peniche, Portugal (Getty Images)
The coastline at Peniche, Portugal (Getty Images)

Portugal is officially ‘open for business’ as British holidaymakers are now free to visit the only major southern European nation on the UK government’s “green list” of quarantine-free countries.

The news comes as a huge relief to thousands of prospective holidaymakers, after reports emerged that British tourists might not be allowed in until the end of May.

On Saturday, however, the Portuguese foreign ministry announced that British tourists would be allowed to enter Portugal from Monday 17 May.

A statement read: “The options are wide for the British Tourists to visit Portugal, from any point. People from the United Kingdom have visited Portugal and celebrated our culture, traditions, landmarks, history, and enjoyed our warm hospitality for decades.

“We look forward to welcome all travellers coming from the UK.”

After a 19-week ban on international leisure travel from the UK, 30 holiday flights are scheduled to depart on Monday to Portugal.

The country is just one of a handful of tourist destinations appearing on the government’s ‘green list’ as part of the reopening of international travel from 17 May.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps confirmed that the country had made the list of ‘safe’ green countries, stating that the removal of international travel restrictions on May 17 was “necessarily cautious”, adding: “We must make sure the countries we reconnect with are safe.”

Golden beaches, cobbled streets and historic cities have turned this European country in a solid hit with British holidaymakers.

Foreign travel will reopen this summer under a traffic light system, with countries split into three categories: green, amber or red, depending on their level of risk in relation to Covid-19 and with corresponding travel restrictions.

Destinations will make it onto the green list based on their case numbers, vaccination rates, and prevalence of any virus variants of concern. Visitors to these countries will not be required to quarantine upon their return to the UK unless they test positive for coronavirus.

But what are the rules on travelling to Portugal this summer? Here’s everything you need to know.

Will British holidaymakers be allowed to travel to Portugal this summer?

Getty Images/iStockphoto
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Yes. The Portuguese foreign ministry confirmed on Saturday that UK holidaymakers would be welcome from Monday 17 May.

On Friday, Portugal recorded its fifth day of no deaths in a 24 hour period since August.

The country is emerging from a lengthy lockdown that began in January and helped Portugal slash infection rates following a previous surge in transmission.

A four-stage plan introduced by the Portuguese government to ease Covid-19 restrictions saw most of the country enter the fourth and final stage on 1 May.

Will I need to take a Covid test before travel?

Getty Images/iStockphoto
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Yes. Visitors must present a negative Covid PCR test taken within 72 hours of the departure of the flight. They will not need to quarantine unless they test positive for Covid-19.

Tourism minister Rita Marques recently said the country would try “at all costs to avoid quarantines and additional Covid-19 tests” for tourists, reports MailOnline.

She added that Brexit should not be an obstacle to British holidaymakers, saying: “Portugal is still identifying many issues that need special care due to Brexit but the Portugal brand is strong, particularly among the British.”

Will I need to have been vaccinated to visit Portugal?

Visitors to Portugal do not need to have been vaccinated to enter the country, but they must present a negative Covid PCR test taken within 72 hours of the departure of the flight.

What rules and restrictions are in place in Portugal?

Getty Images/iStockphoto
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Measures remain in place throughout Portugal to control the spread of the virus. You are required to observe the following rules on social distancing when in public:

  • Keep a social distance of two metres

  • Use a face covering in enclosed spaces, and outdoors where a distance of 2m cannot be maintained

  • Wash your hands regularly

Your temperature can be taken on access to enclosed spaces, as determined by the health authorities.

In mainland Portugal, you must wear a mask while walking along promenades and in restaurants and cafés until you are seated. The use of a mask is also obligatory on entry and exit from beaches and while using shower and changing facilities. You must maintain a social distance of 1.5m from other groups on the beach and follow the access signs.

You can be fined up to €1000 (£860) if you breach the regulations.

Shops and other commercial premises, restaurants and cafés may have shorter trading hours. Leisure and cultural activities may be banned or limited to smaller groups.

In Madeira and Porto Santo, a curfew remains in place from 11pm until 5am, including weekends.

Bars and restaurants will close at 10pm. Most supermarkets, shops and cultural events will open at 50 per cent capacity.

In the Azores, measures remain in place to minimise the spread of the virus, with areas categorised on five levels of risk. The majority of areas fall under the ‘very low risk’ category, with only the parish of Rabo de Peixe categorised as ‘high risk’.

What is the current Covid-19 status in Portugal?

After becoming the world's worst-hit country by size of population in January, Portugal has seen the pandemic ebb significantly following a four-month lockdown.

According to the World Health Organisation, there have been 17,006 deaths from coronavirus recorded in Portugal to date. The country has vaccinated about 22 per cent of its population and cases are continuing to fall throughout Portugal.

Speaking in April, Ricardo Mexia, head of Portugal’s National Association of Public Health Doctors, said that the spread of Covid-19 in the country “is very much under control”.

Portugal, he told the Associated Press, is reaping the fruit of a lockdown that “went on probably a bit longer than was strictly necessary.”

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