Covid: Portugal to allow UK holidaymakers despite 'state of calamity' extension

Europe Editor James Mates on how Portugal is looking forward to welcoming back British tourists to the beaches

British holidaymakers with a negative Covid-19 test will be able to fly to Portugal as early as Monday despite domestic lockdown restrictions being extended in the country.

The Portuguese tourist board announced it "look forward to welcome all travellers from the UK", a measure that is in defiance of a continuing EU ban on Britons travelling on holiday.

On Thursday, the Portuguese Government extended the so-called "state of calamity" rules which impose lockdown restrictions within the country. But these are unconnected to the rules on international travel.

On Monday, the UK Government will put Portugal on the “green list” of countries that Britons can visit without having to quarantine on their return. 

Many Brits are desperate to go on holiday after over a year of lockdown. Credit: PA

This led to a surge of bookings for flights and hotels in the Algarve.

Thousands of British football fans are hoping to travel to the city of Porto for the all-English Champions League final between Manchester City and Chelsea on May 29.

During the “state of calamity”, entry to Portugal is only allowed if you are a returning resident, according to information on the FCDO website.

A sign in Portugal shows people to wear masks. Credit: PA

Portuguese Cabinet office minister Mariana Vieira da Silva said on Thursday that under current plans for the Champions League final, a series of restrictions to British fans would apply.

UEFA previously confirmed that 6,000 tickets would be made available to each of the finalists, with the final capacity limit at the Estadio do Dragao still to be fixed.

Ms Vieira da Silva described the plans as "a bubble situation", with fans passing through a separate zone at the airport and needing a negative coronavirus test before travelling.

Portugal is a popular destination for holidaymakers. Credit: Pexels

Guidance from the Department of Transport warns that many green list countries still have restrictions on UK travellers.

It advises passengers to check all entry and testing requirements and Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) travel advice for Portugal before booking travel.

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Entry to non-residents is limited to essential purposes from the UK and other non-EU countries, and EU or European Economic Area countries where the case rate is above 150 cases per 100,000 residents.

"Essential purposes" are defined as travelling to live with immediate family members or professional, educational, health or humanitarian reasons.

To enter Portugal, proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken with 72 hours of departure is required.

Those without proof of a negative test can be refused permission to board a flight, or may be forced to quarantine in government-approved accommodation upon arrival.