As countries open up in fits and starts across the world, you’ve probably been wondering whether a Mediterranean beach break is still on the cards this September or October. Greece, Italy, Spain and Turkey have all started welcoming international visitors again. And now Portugal, too, says it has already reopened its borders.
The country is open and ‘tourists are welcome’, according to Portuguese foreign minister Augusto Santos Silva in an interview with the newspaper Observador. And what’s more, travellers won’t be quarantined. Instead, they will face only ‘minimal health controls’ in accordance with the country’s lockdown rules.
Currently, travellers from EU and Schengen travel zone countries will be allowed in, as well as visitors from Australia, Canada, China, Georgia, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.
Until late August, British holidaymakers had to wait, as the UK and Portugal had failed to reach an ‘air bridge’ or ‘travel corridor’ arrangement – meaning tourists had to quarantine for 14 days on their return home. For just over a fortnight, this was removed. However, from tomorrow (September 12), British travellers will be required, yet again, to self-isolate on their return. These restrictions don’t apply to the Azores and Madeira, whose cases are currently lower than the mainland.
As for what it’s actually like on the ground, cafés and restaurants have been open in Portugal since May. Hotels and other accommodation joined them from June 1, with local tourism boards awarding a new ‘Clean & Safe’ badge to hotels and restaurants that have implemented new hygiene measures – including no free-for-all buffets.
Locals and visitors alike are required to social-distance at all times and wear face coverings on public transport and enclosed public spaces.
Beaches reopened on June 6, and a new app is helping monitor capacity to help maintain distance between sunbathers: a sophisticated solution compared to the roped-off cabanas being implemented by beaches elsewhere. With the city delights of Lisbon and Porto and the sunny Atlantic coastline of Albufeira and the Algarve at your disposal, it all sounds pretty dreamy.
(It’s worth noting that island provinces outside mainland Portugal will apply stricter rule: visitors to the Azores must bring a negative test result from within the past 72 hours, or take a test and wait 48 hours in self-isolation. Same goes for Madeira, but test results take 12 hours.)
Flights are already running to Portugal’s three major airports and more airlines are resuming routes soon.
So, er, what are you waiting for? See you on the praia.
Remember, many countries are still warning against all non-essential travel and some are quarantining all overseas arrivals, including their own returning citizens. Check all the relevant restrictions before you think about travelling.