Only Portuguese nationals and foreign nationals legally resident in Portugal (and their family members) are permitted to enter the country if arriving from the UK at the moment. This is due to the new variant of the COVID-19 virus, which has caused many European countries to temporarily close their borders to the UK.
The current rate of new Covid infections in Portugal is 255 new cases in the past week per 100,000. This is some way higher than the 20 per 100,000 threshold beyond at which the UK government imposes quarantine and is also higher than the UK (on 220) and Spain (129). However, cases in the Algarve have remained relatively low.
Before the recent travel ban, there was still no ‘air bridge’ between the Portuguese mainland and the UK, so it was mandatory to quarantine on your return to the UK. Officially, the British government “advises against all but essential travel” to Portugal, meaning that some insurance policies will be invalidated.
On arrival in Portugal
On arrival in Portugal including Madeira, Porto Santo and the Azores, you will be required to provide a certificate confirming a negative test result for SARS/Covid-19 taken in the previous 72 hours. Airlines are likely to deny boarding if you cannot provide this at check-in. You should check with your airline in advance of travelling.
If you do travel without a test certificate, you will be tested by the Portuguese National Health Service at the airport. You will need to pay for this test yourself and will be required to isolate until the test results are confirmed.
On the plane you need to fill in a passenger locator form in case other people on the flights are taken ill, in which case you will be contacted.
Property buying in Portugal
The usual social distancing rules are in place, including keeping two metres apart wherever possible and wearing masks in any enclosed public space, such as public transport and shops. Virtual viewings are now also the ‘new normal’.
You can still buy property as usual. Moreover, with so many apartments empty in what would be still be a busy time of year for tourism, it will be easy to view properties.
Prior to the lockdown, prices in Portugal were rising fast, fuelled by low interest rates. Official data shows them rising by around 10% last year. In the year to the end of June, prices rose by 8% but that includes a small contraction in the early days of the lockdown.
Since then there has been little reliable or up-to-date information on the property market. With the economy shrinking by around 10% in the past year, however, and the near-ruination of the summer tourist season, some sellers will undoubtedly be willing to take an offer in expat hotspots like the Algarve.