Credit: Ben Kamphuis / Scopio

Portugal scraps 14-day quarantine rule to welcome unvaccinated UK tourists

Portugal has announced that it is lifting its mandatory 14-day quarantine for unvaccinated British tourists, in a bid to open up international travel to the country.  Portugal introduced the controversial quarantine rule in June after German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged an EU coordinated approach to British tourists, including those who have been double-vaccinated.

Those who are double-vaccinated will still have to show a negative test result on arrival in the country – a move which had been predicted by the travel industry.

The news broke as Portugal said on Wednesday it would allow entry for visitors from Brazil, nearly 18 months after it imposed a ban on non-essential travel from the Portuguese-speaking country to help curb the spread of coronavirus.  Now, visitors from the South American nation no longer need to self-isolate on arrival and the Portuguese Government has announced the same rule applies to tourists from the UK, including those who are unvaccinated.  The country also announced this week that visitors from the US are allowed into the country showing a negative test result on arrival.

Until now  Britons travelling to mainland Portugal are required to present either a negative test result or proof of their vaccination to avoid quarantine.  The same rule applies to travellers from Brazil, according to the government.

Portugal remains on the UK amber list, meaning unvaccinated Britons have to quarantine for 10 days at home on their return to the UK but double-jabbed travellers only have to take a PCR test on day two.

The changes are set to have a big impact, and will likely appeal to younger people from the UK seeking out a late summer getaway who have not been fully vaccinated.  Under-12s are not required to take a test, however every traveller must have completed an online passenger locator form.  The move puts the country level with Greece and Spain, which also only require tests and no quarantine for unvaccinated British tourists.  Meanwhile, France still maintains a ban on non-essential travel to the country by unvaccinated people from the UK.

Many in the travel and tourism industry will be welcoming the news from Portugal with open arms, after it was revealed that the number of UK holidaymakers to Spain this summer dropped by 40 percent compared with pre-pandemic levels in 2019.  New data from travel analytics firm ForwardKeys also revealed that overall international arrivals to the country were half of those in summer 2019.

Portugal has lifted most restrictions with a three-stage plan.  The government has said this has been supported by a speedy and efficient vaccination rollout.As of Wednesday, 73% of the Portuguese population was fully vaccinated, health ministry data show.

Meanwhile, The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC)  warned the UK government that with the furlough scheme coming to an end, time is running out to save travel businesses which are struggling to survive.  The WWTC predicts that based on 2019 pre-pandemic levels, £59.4billion could be lost from the UK’s economy if travel remains restricted over the final quarter of 2021.  The organisation also warned that unless international travel opens up more widely with less controls soon, the UK will face a mammoth financial loss, totalling over £59 billion.

Unvaccinated Irish tourists, as part of the EU, were already permitted to enter Portugal without having to observe a 14-day quarantine.  The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs notes on its website that “COVID-19 is still a threat, but with continued public health measures, vaccination and testing, it will be possible to travel internationally.”  To travel from Ireland to Portugal, the DFA states that you can enter with the EU Digital COVID Certificate – obtained either through proof of vaccination, proof of recovery from COVID-19 or a negative test result –  without being subject to further restrictions.  Entering Portugal without the EU Digital COVID Certificate requires a pre-departure negative COVID-19 test.

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