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.

With declines in death and infection rates, many visitors are now wondering: what is the current situation and when will it be safe to travel to Lisbon and Portugal?

After the State of Emergency in Portugal

Sweeping changes to ordinary life were already in place. 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. 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).

As of 4 May, face masks are required in enclosed public spaces such as public transport, supermarkets, stores, and schools.

With most recent cases of Covid-19 detected in parts of Greater Lisbon, where more young people are testing positive, some restrictions are reimposed in the capital and outskirts as of 23 June, namely limiting public gatherings to 10 people and closing cafés and shops at 8pm.

A total of 19 areas – that do not include downtown Lisbon – had to go back into lockdown from 29 June through 31 July.

Here’s the full breakdown of Portugal’s lockdown exit plan as wearing a face mask becomes mandatory in enclosed public 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 closed 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