Coronavirus: Current Situation in Lisbon and Portugal

Europe was badly hit by COVID-19, and for some time became the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic.

Following Italy, Spain and France, Portugal declared a state of emergency on 19 March, involving restrictions on movement. The lockdown was extended until 2 May. After that, Portugal began relaxing some restrictions while extending others, such as making face masks mandatory in enclosed public spaces such as public transport, supermarkets and stores.

After a period of decline in death and infection rates, Portugal is now seeing a significant rise of daily infections. Many visitors are now wondering: what is the current situation and when will it be safe to travel to Lisbon and Portugal?

As of 15 October, Portugal entered a state of calamity. New government-imposed measures include gatherings limited to five people, face masks compulsory in crowded outdoor spaces in addition to enclosed public spaces, and a maximum of 50 guests allowed in weddings and baptisms (but university parties banned).

Limitations on people’s movements will be imposed between 30 October and 3 November: travelling between municipalities (“concelhos”) is banned except for working or going to school. The government’s decision is an attempt to limit unnecessary, private journeys during the weekend of 1 November that marks All Saints’ Day.

During the Pandemic in Portugal

By 16 March, Portugal closed all schools, limited public gatherings, banned all public events, and shuttered all non-essential stores. Many companies put employees working from home.

On 4 May, Portugal began partially easing its lockdown. Face masks became compulsory in enclosed public spaces such as public transport, supermarkets, stores, and schools.

Hairdressers and other small businesses outside shopping malls were allowed to reopen. Car dealerships and bookstores, regardless of size, were also allowed to open up.

Larger shops outside malls followed on 18 May, and cafés and restaurants opened at half capacity. Schools also returned but only for 10-12th grade students (15-18 years old).

The final stage happened on 1 June when shopping malls were permitted to open, except in the Lisbon area (reopening postponed to 15 June). Theatres at reduced capacity, kindergartens and pre-school services also returned.

Portugal’s border restrictions were extended until 1 July when frontiers reopened to Spain and the other European Union nations (Schengen zone), and restrictions on non-essential travel were lifted for six countries outside the European Union (for details see below).

On 23 June, with more young people testing positive detected in parts of Greater Lisbon, some restrictions were reimposed in the capital and outskirts, namely limiting public gatherings to 10 people and closing cafés and shops at 8pm. A total of 19 areas had to go back into lockdown from 29 June through 31 July.

Between 15 September and 14 October, the whole country was under a state of contingency. As of 15 October, Portugal raised the alert level to state of calamity following a sharp rise in Covid cases.

Here’s the full breakdown of Portugal’s lockdown exit plan as wearing a face mask becomes mandatory in enclosed public spaces as well as crowded outdoor spaces:

4 May
Restrictions lifted across Portugal on

  • Small shops (below 200sq m) outside shopping malls
  • Hairdressers and similar by appointment only
  • Car dealerships and bookstores, regardless of size
  • Gatherings of up to 10 people

18 May
Restrictions lifted across Portugal on

  • Shops (below 400sq m) outside malls
  • Indoor service in restaurants, bars and cafés at half capacity
  • Schools for 10-12th grade students
  • Museums, monuments, palaces, and art galleries, at reduced capacity

1 June
Restrictions lifted across Portugal on

  • Retail stores in malls (except in Lisbon, reopening postponed to 15 June)
  • Shops larger than 400sq m outside malls
  • Theatres at reduced capacity

23 June
Restrictions reimposed in Greater Lisbon

  • Cafés and shops must close at 8pm
    (but restaurants may still have dine-in and takeaway services after 8pm)
  • Public gatherings limited 10 people

29 June through 31 July
19 areas in Greater Lisbon (excluding downtown Lisbon) go back to lockdown

  • Localised lockdown in parts of Greater Lisbon
    Those suburbs are Amadora, Odivelas, some areas of Loures and Sintra, and one civil parish in Lisbon (Santa Clara). People living in the affected areas are allowed to leave home only to buy essential goods, and to travel to and from work.

1 July

  • Frontiers reopen to Spain and the other EU nations (Schengen zone), and restrictions on non-essential travel are lifted for the following 6 countries outside the EU: Algeria, Canada, Morocco, South Korea, Tunisia, and China, subject to confirmation of reciprocity
  • Exceptions set down for travel from Portuguese-speaking countries and countries outside the EU with large communities of Portuguese immigrants

15 September through 14 October
State of contingency

  • Gatherings limited to 10 people
  • Commercial establishments (other than restaurants) must close between 8pm and 11pm

15 October
State of calamity

  • Gatherings limited to 5 people
  • Face masks compulsory in enclosed public spaces and crowded outdoor spaces
  • Weddings and baptisms with a maximum of 50 guests (but university parties banned)

30 October through 3 November

  • Travelling between municipalities (“concelhos”) banned except for working or going to school
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