As tentative signs start to emerge of a revival for the travel industry, our minds are turning to potential holiday destinations for this summer.
With excellent surfing, outstanding city break destinations and the world’s favourite custard tarts (pasteis de nata), Portugal has long been a favourite holiday destination for Brits.
But can British holidaymakers even get there? And will we be welcome?
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Here’s everything you need to know.
Am I allowed to travel to Portugal from the UK?
At the moment, the Foreign Office is advising against all non-essential international travel – including to Portugal.
The ban was initially put in place to avoid Britons getting stuck abroad as flight routes shut down; now that airlines are looking to restart summer flying programmes, this could change.
The FCO says its advice is under “constant review”.
Its advice doesn’t make travel abroad “illegal” as such – but it does invalidate your travel insurance and means you may find it tricky to get help from the embassy or consulate if things go wrong.
How could I get there?
Flights are still operating between the UK and Portugal.
Tap Air Portugal is flying twice weekly between Heathrow and Lisbon throughout June, going up to 14 weekly flights in July.
Ryanair is currently operating one return flight a day between London Stansted and Lisbon for the rest of June – outbound journeys can be pricey, whereas the return leg can be picked up from just £19.92.
EasyJet’s earliest departure to Lisbon appears to be on 7 July from London Luton.
Will they let me in when I arrive?
Yes – border restrictions have been lifted on mainland Portugal and its territories of the Azores and Madeira archipelagos (though the latter two have their own rules on mandatory testing and quarantine) for certain countries, including the UK.
Will I have to quarantine when I arrive?
In continental Portugal, there’s no quarantine or self-isolation period required – although there are temperature checks in place at the airport.
However, in its rules about which nationalities can enter, Portugal has said it will allow them in “provided that reciprocity of treatment in these countries is ensured for Portuguese citizens”.
As the UK is currently implementing a blanket two-week quarantine on all incoming arrivals, Portugal could potentially demand a reciprocal measure for visiting Brits unless an “air bridge” (a quarantine-free agreement between two countries) is agreed upon.
If you’re heading for the Azores, you’ll have to either show proof of a negative Covid-19 test carried out 72 hours prior to arrival or take a test upon arrival and remain in quarantine for a maximum of 48 hours while you wait for the results. Those staying longer than seven days will have to repeat the test locally, six days after the original test was done.
Madeira and Porto Santo have the strictest rules, requiring visitors to undergo a health screening on arrival and spend 14 days in mandatory quarantine at a hotel.
Can I travel within Portugal?
Yes, there are no specific restrictions on moving around within Portugal. Public transport remains in operation, but capacity has been reduced to two thirds to enable social distancing, and masks are required at all times. It is currently prohibited for cruise passengers to disembark in Portugal.
Are hotels open?
Campsites and motorhome parks are allowed to reopen to visitors provided capacity and hygiene measures are met, and hotels have been able to open for tourists throughout June.
A “Clean and Safe” stamp created by Turismo de Portugal (the tourist board) certifies which hotels have implemented enhanced hygiene and safety measures.
Airbnb properties are also up and running.
Are restaurants, shops and attractions open?
Since 4 May, bookshops, hairdressers, beauty salons, libraries, sailing clubs and golf courses have been open in Portugal, with social distancing measures in place.
This was followed on 18 May with the reopening of museums and other tourist attractions such as monuments, art galleries, palaces and churches, plus restaurants, bars, cafés, patisseries, terraces, promenades and shops of up to 400 square metres.
Zoos and aquariums are open, and beaches reopened on 6 June with “supervision” in place and access denied if there’s a risk of overcrowding.
Cinemas, theatres and concert halls have been permitted to open since 1 June.
The Portuguese tourist board has developed a “Clean and Safe” stamp to identify travel companies and services, such as hotels, tour operators, restaurants and other activity providers, that are complying with certain hygiene and cleaning standards.
What rules are in place?
The use of non-surgical masks is mandatory in enclosed spaces, such as supermarkets, shops, beauty salons, schools, public services, at the airport, in taxis and on public transport.
You’re also required to remain two metres apart from other people when in public, respect the rules on maximum capacity on public transport, in shops and other establishments, and practise good hand hygiene.
Contactless payment is also being encouraged wherever possible.
Will I have to quarantine when I come home?
Yes. When you arrive back on UK soil, you’ll currently have two weeks of mandatory quarantine to look forward to.
The policy was implemented on 8 June and is in place indefinitely, but subject to regular review.
The UK quarantine is “compulsory”, which means you could be contacted at random to ensure you understand the requirements and are self-isolating.
Officials can telephone or call at the nominated address at any time during the 14 days and fine you £1,000 (in England and Wales) if you’re out without a valid excuse.
Quarantinees cannot go to work, school or to any public areas, or use public transport or taxis. They can’t have visitors, should not go out to buy food or other essentials “where you can rely on others,” and should also avoid contact with the people they’re staying with.
It’s a high price to pay for a Portuguese getaway.
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