Portugal has been praised for its handling of the COVID-19 crisis and is beginning to ease lockdown measures. With an air bridge between the UK potentially being introduced at the end of this month, we assess what travelling to Portugal may look like in the near future.
Quick to act
It’s safe to say that the Portuguese government has been pretty successful in containing the COVID-19 virus. Despite having an ageing population, Portugal has had a significantly lower infection rate than its neighbours and one of Europe’s lowest death tolls.
This has been put down to a number of factors. Portugal had time on its side as it was hit with the virus later than both Spain and Italy. News reports about what was happening elsewhere motivated citizens to abide by social distancing restrictions very early on. The government was also quick to close schools and declare a state of emergency.
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A world-class testing regime
Instead of relying on expensive testing kits from abroad, independent labs were called upon to design their own. The testing kits were up and running in just a few weeks. Portugal has therefore been among the top 10 countries in the world for testing per capita since mid-April
The healthcare system in Portugal is centralised like in the UK. Some argue that this has given Portugal an advantage over the likes of Italy and Spain, which split theirs into regions. The government has also invested heavily in healthcare over the past few years, which has paid off during this crisis.
Returning to normal
The government’s swift action and the vigilance shown by Portuguese citizens means that the country is now slowing returning to normality.
After announcing a phased lifting of restrictions in May, beaches are open again. Airports, shops, restaurants and bars are also coming to life, still with a strong emphasis on using face masks and hand sanitiser.
To make tourists comfortable, hygiene certification to tourist facilities has been introduced. If a company has a ‘clean and safe’ stamp, this means it has complied with health and safety recommendations issued by the National Tourism Authority. The stamp can apply to all types of accommodation, restaurants, travel agencies and much more. It’s hoped that it will not only reassure tourists, but also motivate businesses to focus on providing a safe and hygienic environment for their customers.
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The land border between Spain and Portugal remains closed and will be shut until July at the earliest. However, there may soon be a chance to fly directly between the UK and Portugal. Portugal’s foreign minister recently said that he hopes an ‘air bridge’ between the UK and Portugal will be in place by the end of the month. This means that we’ll be able to travel back and forth from the UK and Portugal without the need to quarantine for 14 days. This certainly good news for anyone who wishes to make a viewing trip over there in the near future.