Portugal extends control of foreign arrivals till May 16: visitors from nine countries face quarantine

Portugal may be opening up internally, but when it comes to visitors from other countries restrictions are still very much in place.

The ministry of interior administration (MAI) has published a list of countries – some of them in Europe – the residents of which face 14-days in quarantine if they enter Portugal by air, sea or land.

The countries are South Africa, Brazil, India, Cyprus, Croatia, France, Lithuania, Sweden and the Netherlands.

Travel for this group considered ‘high risk’ in terms of importing contagion is still meant to be ‘for essential purposes only’.

Says Diário de Notícias this weekend, the nine have all got ‘incidences’ of the virus running at 500 (or more) cases per 100,000 of their population.

Nineteen other countries – the vast majority European – with incidence rates of equal or superior to 150 cases per 100,000 are equally prohibited from travelling to Portugal ‘except for essential purposes’.

“The authorities consider essential purposes that allow citizens transit or entry into Portugal to be ‘professional reason, study, family reunion, health or humanitarian reasons”, says DN.

The 19 countries are: Germany, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechia, Denmark, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Spain, Greece, Italy, Hungary, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania and Switzerland.

Readers who have got this far will see a crinkle in all these regulations: Portugal’s borders with Spain reopened yesterday. The Spanish are already revisiting favourite haunts – but according to the rules, they are only allowed into this country ‘for essential purposes’.

Are the land borders checking everyone? Certainly the airports are not. The Resident has concrete knowledge of travellers from Holland flying in recently, spending 10 days with family members, and then flying home again. There was never any mention to them of the requirement to spend 14-days in isolation when they got here – and they weren’t staying long enough to manage this anyway.

In other words these new regulations are like many in Portugal. They are ‘there’, written down – but their application is not quite so clear.

Yes, air travel is still strictly controlled when it comes to the need to show a negative PCR test for the virus taken 72-hours prior to embarkation. But beyond that, the system shows a tendency to unravel.

According to DN, anyone who arrives in Portugal – by any means – has to enter their data on an online platform (travel.sef.pt) “in order for it to be transmitted to health authorities for the compliance of the measure of isolation”.

There is no mention of the need to show a negative PCR test if arriving by land or sea – although the MAI statement does mention the need for people to quarantine for 14-days if in the 14 days prior to their arrival in Portugal they have visited South Africa, Brazil, or India.

Specifically regarding land borders, the paper says “GNR, PSP and SEF are conducting mobile controls of collective passenger transport, motorhomes and regular light vehicles to inform citizens of the duties to which they are subject and to monitor compliance”.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com