Lockdown in Portugal is easing and, just in time for this glorious weather, beaches are set to open by 6th June. And with Portugal saying there will be no quarantine, travel is likely to be possible this summer.
Lockdown in Portugal has started to ease. Life is gradually returning to a version of normal. This comes amid considerable praise for the country’s early action in limiting the local impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Locals have started to return to work, take their seats outside sunny cafés, and plan imminent trips to the beach. If you’re a frequent visitor to the country, or somebody who plans to move there permanently, you’re no doubt wondering when you can resume your own plans.
In this article we take a look at what’s happening on the ground. We also glance into the future, considering everything from flights to future property viewings. There’s a pleasing amount of good news to share.
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Easing of lockdown
Portugal began to ease its Coronavirus lockdown on the 3rd May. It has now entered the second phase of those plans.
Towns and cities are beginning to come alive again, with restaurants and cafés allowed to open. This is, of course, all subject to social distancing rules. Customers are encouraged to sit outside – rarely an issue in Portugal. All these establishments are restricted to only using half of their normal capacity.
Various other changes now allow residents of Portugal to get back to some kind of “new normal.” These include:
- Day care centres and schools starting to reopen. Schools are initially admitting children in years 11 and 12.
- Shops of up to 400 square metres reopening.
- Museums and monuments opening again (including Lisbon’s popular Oceanarium), subject to social distancing measures.
- Driving school and vehicle test centres reopening.
Further easing of restrictions will follow. The most exciting of these, for many, is the plan to reopen Portugal’s beaches.
Beaches to reopen in June
On June 6th, beaches in Portugal will reopen to the public.
Inevitably, you can expect things to be rather different. In order to comply with social distancing requirements, individual beaches will need to restrict the number of people present. Certain activities, such as sports involving more than two people, will remain prohibited initially.
Portugal’s authorities plan to tackle this with the mixture of innovation and pragmatism that’s become something of a trademark for the current administration. They play to launch an app that will use a traffic light system to show whether there’s available room on each beach before people set out.
In addition, there are measures to help everyone ensure they get their chance to enjoy the sand and sea. Beach concessions will only be permitted to rent chairs and loungers to people for the morning or afternoon.
Obviously these new rules represent a new normal that’s some distance from the free and easy atmosphere we are all used to. Plenty of seaside businesses have concerns that their operations won’t prove viable with social distancing restrictions in place. However, these challenges are being faced globally, and it’s pleasing to see Portugal work so proactively to face them.
Rebooting Portugal as a tourist destination and planning travel
With tourism accounting for nearly 20% of Portugal’s GDP, businesses and authorities alike are obviously keen to kickstart the industry as soon as is feasible.
Ryanair has announced its intention to resume flights to and from the country in July. Assuming these plans come to fruition, and that other airlines follow, this provides a light and the end of the tunnel – both for Portugal, and for those yearning to be there.
Meanwhile, Portugal’s tourist board has created a “Clean and Safe” initiative. This provides a detailed code of conduct for tourism businesses. Establishments can apply for certification so that they can demonstrate their compliance with cleanliness procedures. As well as ensuring people’s health and safety, this should also give tourists extra confidence as they begin to return to the country.
On the travel front, it has been announced that a number of ‘major tourist sites’ will not require a fourteen-day quarantine – so we expect travel to resume sooner rather than later. The Algarve Tourism Board has officially given its support to the idea of ‘air bridges’, saying the plan ‘looks correct to us having a balanced decision that secures the health of the visitor and the return to normality should expect different levels of risk.’
Planning to move after lockdown in Portugal?
So, we’ve covered what’s happening now, and what’s around the corner. Let’s move on to the serious business of buying property in Portugal.
Plenty of people are no doubt frustrated at having to pause their plans, and you may be one of them. However, there are some positive signs that it’s well worth being aware of.
Portugal’s enviable response to the pandemic hasn’t gone unnoticed globally. The swift lockdown in Portugal kept infections and tragic deaths to a minimum. In the Algarve region, there were no new Coronavirus cases recorded at all on the weekend of 16th May.
This has all resulted in Portugal continuing to receive accolades throughout this crisis. Forbes has named the Algarve as the best place in the world to retire after Coronavirus.
In addition, Knight Frank has named Lisbon as one of only four global cities where property prices will rise (albeit modestly) in 2020.
The British/Portuguese Chamber of Commerce recently convened a webinar of local property professionals, together with the Portugal Resident. Those present agreed that the fundamentals of Portugal’s property market remain strong.
If you’re in a hurry to purchase a Portuguese home, bargains may begin to emerge. However, these will typically emerge when vendors have properties they are in a hurry to sell. There’s currently nothing to indicate a price crash is incoming. Property owners without a sense of urgency can wait with a sense of relative calm.
Portugal’s handling of COVID-19 clearly contributes to this situation. The attraction of a home in a part of the world considered relatively “safe” – in more ways than one – is in no doubt.
If you’re chomping at the bit to move things along in your own journey to life in Portugal, there are things you can do. At the recent webinar, there was plenty of discussion around virtual viewings, and other technology innovations to help people explore Portuguese properties from a distance.
It’s also well worth using this time to investigate and clarify tax matters and learn more about the country. Spending as much time as possible learning Portuguese is also an extremely rewarding investment.
Property viewings and walks on the Algarve’s beaches may not be that far away.