UK tourists can enter Portugal from Monday as Covid restriction ends


Portugal is to reopen to British visitors with negative PCR test results on Monday despite the government deciding to extend the nationwide state of emergency until the end of the month as the country continues to recover from a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

The announcement comes a week after the UK government added Portugal to the “green list” of countries to which Britons can travel from 17 May without the need to quarantine on their return.

In a much-anticipated statement on Friday afternoon, the Portuguese government confirmed that British tourists would be allowed to enter Portugal from midnight on Monday.

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Ministers say that from 17 May at the earliest international travel for leisure may be able to resume, and that countries would be placed in a traffic light system, with green, amber and red lists that would set out the rules for things such as testing and quarantining for those returning to England:

Green: passengers will not need to quarantine on return (unless they receive a positive result) but must take a pre-departure test as well as a PCR test on arrival back in the UK. A handful of countries and territories are on the initial green list including Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Portugal and the Falkland Island.

Amber: travellers will need to quarantine for 10 days, as well as taking a pre-departure test and two PCR tests (on day two and day eight) with the option of paying for a private Covid-19 test on day five (the test to release scheme) to end self-isolation early.

Red: arrivals will be subject to restrictions currently in place for red list countries, which include a 10-day stay in a managed quarantine hotel, as well as pre-departure testing and and two PCR tests.

Which list a country is put on will depend on a number of factors including the percentage of the population that has been vaccinated, infection rates and the prevalence of “variants of concern”.

Given travel is a devolved matter, the administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will decide whether to follow suit or adopt a different approach.

Rupert Jones and Aubrey Allegretti

“This decision will revoke the essential travel restrictions, that [are] in place until 16 May,” it said. “Any person entering Portugal will have, in any case, to have an RT-PCR test done 72 hours before departure.”

According to the statement, the national tourist office has been working to ensure there will be sufficient testing capacity to meet demand from tourists and thousands of people in the hospitality sector have been trained as part of the country’s “clean and safe” initiative.

“People from the United Kingdom have visited Portugal and celebrated our culture, traditions, landmarks, history and enjoyed our warm hospitality for decades,” it said.

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

Under the continuing “state of calamity”, gatherings are limited to 10 people, there is a ban on drinking in the streets and other public places, and nonessential shops must close at 9pm and restaurants at 10.30pm.

The government said it had decided to err on the side of caution despite “quite a significant decrease” in cases and “a very positive evolution”.

At the height of the third wave in January, Portugal – which has a population of 10.2 million – recorded more than 16,000 cases in a single day.

The Portuguese decision arrived two days after Spain said it was aiming to welcome British tourists back without the need for a negative Covid test from 20 May.

But much will depend on whether the UK government moves Spain into the green list of countries Britons will be allowed to visit from Monday. At the moment, Spain is in the amber category, meaning those returning to the UK would have to quarantine for 10 days and take two Covid tests.



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