Portugal holidays: FCDO issues update as lockdown restrictions begin to ease

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Portugal holidays may be on hold for now, but should the nation receive a “green” or “amber” categorisation under the Government’s “traffic light” system, they could return in time for summer. However, this will be dependent on how well the country is fairing in terms of COVID-19 figures.

A strict lockdown has been in place across Portugal for months, however, these restrictions are slowly beginning to ease in the coming weeks.

In line with this, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has issued an update to its travel advice page.

“The Portuguese government has announced a plan for easing lockdown measures. Between 15 March and 3 May, and providing the virus remains under control, shops and services will open and restrictions on sporting activities and events will be gradually lifted,” the FCDO travel advice explains.

The latest relaxation of restrictions involving retailers and restaurants will begin to relax from April 5, though Portuguese Government guidelines apply.

“Public gatherings are banned. From 5 April shops up to a maximum area of 200m² and with direct street access may open,” states the FCDO.

Shops will be subject to curfews, with a closing time of 9pm on weekdays and a closing time of 1pm on weekends and public holidays. Supermarkets and grocery stores may stay open slightly later on weekends and public holidays – until 7pm.

“Restaurants and cafés may serve meals on open terraces with a maximum of four people per table,” the advice continues.

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Restaurants and cafes must close at 10pm on weekdays, and at 1pm on weekends and public holidays.

“The sale of alcoholic drinks in retail establishments is prohibited between 8pm and 6am except at restaurants operating on outdoor terraces where the times stated above apply,” the FCDO explains.

“Cultural facilities such as museums, monuments, palaces and art galleries may open until 10:30pm on weekdays and 1pm at weekends and on public holidays.”

Social distancing measures remain in place when in public areas, both indoors and outdoors.

Similarly, face coverings must be worn in all public settings where social distancing can not be observed.

Though Portugal was on the UK Government’s “red list” for travel, it has since been removed.

This means arrivals from Portugal to the UK no longer need to quarantine in a Government-approved hotel.

However, the FCDO maintains its advice against all “non-essential” travel to Portugal.

Under the current lockdown rules in the UK, leisure travel is banned.

Travellers who need to journey to Portugal for “essential” purposes can do so for a number of specific reasons as set out by the Government.

Britons who need to travel must fill out a declaration form outlining their reason.

If they fail to provide accurate evidence of an essential reason to travel, they may face a fine of up to £5,000.

The Government advice states: “It is illegal to leave the UK from England without a reasonable excuse or be at an embarkation point where you can travel outside of the UK (including airports, ferry terminals and international rail hubs) for the purpose of travelling out of the UK without a reasonable excuse.”

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