Photo: Associação de turismo do algarve

Portugal to open up to ‘non-essential travel before May 17’

Portugal will be officially opening for non-essential travel before May 17 – just as secretary of state for tourism Rita Marques intimated back in March (click here).

ATA, the Algarve Tourism Authority, has confirmed today it is confident an announcement will be made in the next few days.

President João Fernandes said he could not say exactly when it would be made, but that he was very confident that it was coming in time for any British tourists who want to take early advantage of Portugal being ‘green listed’ for quarantine free travel by the government in UK (click here).

Elsewhere, other sources were able to be more than confident. “It’s happening”, they told the Resident. “It’s just that the government wants to leave it a little bit longer due to the recommendation by the European Commission, published on May 3”.

That recommendation proposed Member States eased current restrictions “for all persons coming from countries with a good epidemiological situation but also all people who have received the last recommended dose of an EU-authorised vaccine”.

The announcement made no mention of easing restrictions for unvaccinated people in possession of negative PCR tests. This is why Portugal is giving time for ‘the dust to settle’ because when the country opens, it proposes to welcome all travellers on the basis of negative PCR tests, irrespective of whether or not they have been vaccinated.

News of this ‘confusion’ is already being interpreted by the media in the UK as “EU could force Portugal to turn away holiday Britons”. But that would be counter-productive in so many ways, it clearly is more a case of a suitably sensationalist headline.

According to The Times this morning, “by the time the Champions League final is due to be held in Porto on May 29, which is due to be confirmed by UEFA today, officials believe the EU will have ended the non-essential travel ban and British fans will be able to enter the country without difficulties… the earliest the EU will change the ban will be Wednesday” which is actually May 19.

Our sources disagree. They are adamant the announcement will come “before May 17”.

Only time will tell.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com