STATUS OF TRAVEL IN PORTUGAL
As you might have followed up on the news, Portugal has done quite well on handling the crisis related to the Covid-19 pandemic. The numbers are now decreasing, and the country is slowly opening to normal life again. In general, the Portuguese have been good at staying at home and adopting all the security measures necessary, the mentality in private homes and public spaces is clearly security first.
In what concerns the tourism industry, here is an update on the situation and what you can expect when you consider travel to Portugal:
SAFETY & HYGIENE: The Portuguese Tourism Board (Turismo de Portugal) created the Clean & Safe stamp of approval, which is given to distinguish tourist activities which are compliant with hygiene and cleaning requirements for the prevention and control of Covid-19 and other possible infections. Ask Maria Portugal has been given this certification, which means that we committed to only hiring local partners that also have the stamp.
FLIGHT STATUS: Flights to Portugal from most destinations are now suspended but soon opening up. TAP is opening most of the regular European routes by the end of June, beginning of July depending on the pandemic’s developments. SAS and Norwegian are slowly reopening flights to southern Europe destinations but no information on which routes yet. Charter companies are awaiting to start operating as soon as possible as well.
SECURITY RULES FOR TRANSPORT: Regarding inflight safety within TAP flights, the use of masks is obligatory for all crew and passengers. The possibility of lowering the number of passengers to ensure social distancing aboard and in boarding areas is being evaluated to assess if it is at all sustainable. Rules for the use of touristic buses are not defined yet. Updates coming soon on this issue.
HOTELS & RESTAURANTS: Most hotels in Portugal have committed to the Clean & Safe guidelines and are now operating with all the safety and hygiene rules necessary to provide an adequate service. Restaurants are opening this week with strict rules regarding number of people permitted per square meter, distance between tables, use of disposable menus, personal safety equipment for staff, etc.
PUBLIC LIFE: Most public spaces are now reopening also following strict safety and hygiene rules including obligatory use of masks always when inside a closed facility. For example, museums must define a maximum of visitors per square meter to make sure the 2-meter distance is respected, have hand sanitizer dispensers, will increase the cleaning and disinfection of spaces among a list of other procedures. The use of beaches was one of Portugal’s biggest challenges, as they are widely used by locals and tourists due to the fantastic weather! The rules for beach use have just been announced (to be followed from 6th June) and include physical distance of 1.5m between users (who are not part of the same group) and 3m spacing between parasols. Sports activities on the sand with more than 2 people will not be allowed. Nautical activities, such as surf and similar, are allowed. The most creative aspect is the development of a “traffic-light system”, in which people will be able to see the occupancy status of beaches: green – low occupancy (1/3); yellow – high occupancy (2/3); red – full occupancy (3/3). Users will not be allowed to enter if the sign is red. This system will be connected to an app so people can have remote access to the status of each beach before leaving their homes/hotels.
INNOVATION: According to OECD, Portugal is the country with the highest number of innovative projects to combat Covid-19. Out of 306 projects identified, 35 were developed in Portugal. This is just a note to tell you that the Portuguese are hands on and with full motivation, trying to overcome this crisis and would love you to have Portugal in mind when travel time comes.
OPPORTUNITY: Besides innovation, Portugal has the great advantage of still having many isolated, scarcely populated and at the same time incredibly beautiful places to explore. These are served with a very wide network of rural accommodation (Turismo Rural), units with few rooms catering to all segments. From breath taking campsites to incredible luxury country hotels. Alentejo in the south of Portugal is a good example of how the pandemics was more controlled in less urbanized regions, with only 243 cases of Covid-19 and 1 dead. Being “the forgotten tip of Europe” never served Portugal so well (:
All tourism trends point out to a quest for nature-related experiences, isolated accommodations, avoiding crowds and mass tourism, choosing sustainable solutions. This has always been our focus at Ask Maria Portugal, so we are here for you as soon as you need us. In Portugal.
We are positive that with optimism and creativity we can overcome this period.