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Covid-19: Seven rules and twelve details that have changed in our everyday lives from 1 December 2021

Covid-19: Seven rules and twelve details that have changed in our everyday lives from 1 December 2021

The Portuguese Government has imposed a set of new measures to contain the pandemic, which came into force at midnight on Wednesday 1 December. 

Here's what you need to know - including all the rules and details for those staying in Portugal, and also for those leaving the country (or returning to it) in this period.

7 NEW MEASURES IN FORCE

1. GENERAL RECOMMENDATIONS

Regular testing

Teleworking

2. CALAMITY

Calamity situation declared (as of 1 December)

3. MASKS

Compulsory in closed spaces (in bars and discos only compulsory for employees) and all enclosures, unless exempt, by the Directorate General of Health.

4. DIGITAL CERTIFICATE

Compulsory in the access to:

Restaurants

Tourist establishments and accommodation

Events with marked seats

Gymnasiums

 

5. TESTING

Compulsory negative test (even for those who are vaccinated) for:

Visits to nursing homes

Visits to patients in health care establishments

Large events without assigned seats or in improvised venues and sports grounds

Clubs and bars

 

6. BORDERS

Negative test compulsory for all flights arriving in Portugal

Strongly increased penalties for airlines

 

7. CONTACT WEEK FROM 2 TO 9 JANUARY 2022

Teleworking compulsory

Classes start again on 10 January

Nightclub closures

12 MEASURES THAT WERE NOT KNOWN UNTIL RECENTLY BUT ARE PART OF THE MEASURES UNTIL 21 MARCH 2022

The rules of the restrictions to curb the fifth wave of the pandemic are in Council of Ministers Resolution No. 157/2021, and are in place until 11.59pm on 20 March 2022.

1. RESTRICTIONS UNTIL MARCH 20

The Portuguese Government thus regains the state of calamity the power to determine mandatory confinement for patients with Covid-19, those infected with SARS-CoV-2 and close contacts of those infected with SARS-CoV-2.

2. TELEWORK "RECOMMENDED" AND MANDATORY IN JANUARY

Telework is recommended, throughout the national territory, whenever it is possible to work remotely, and is mandatory in the first week of January 2022.

3. TERRACES (AND TRIPS TO THE TOILET OR FOR PAYMENT) EXEMPT FROM TEST OR CERTIFICATE REQUIREMENTS

The resolution exempts the presentation of a certificate or proof of having taken a test, in restaurants and similar establishments, when in open terraces as well as for the mere entry of these citizens inside the establishment for the purpose of access to common services, namely access to toilet facilities and payment systems.

4. CASINOS AND BINGO HALLS FOLLOW THE RULE

The requirement of a negative test or the presentation of a digital certificate of vaccination is also applied in casinos, bingo halls or similar establishments.

5. EXCLUDED MASSES AND PLACES OF WORSHIP

They are exempted from the requirement of negative certificate or test.

6. EVENTS EXCLUDED? DGS WILL SAY WHICH ONES

In the future, the DGS (general health department) will define the number of participants that constitute "large events" - which will require a test or certificate, "as well as the number of participants up to which, in events of the nature referred to earlier, the presentation of a Digital Certificate will not be required".

7. DGS WILL CARRY OUT "RISK ASSESSMENTS" OF VARIOUS EVENTS

"The events, including sports events, whether held indoors, outdoors or outside fixed venues, may be held in accordance with the specific guidelines of the DGS as long as they are preceded by a risk assessment by the same.

8. CONGRESSES, WEDDINGS AND CORPORATE EVENTS WITHOUT RISK ASSESSMENT

In the same sentiment, there is a rule excluding the need for a reduction of capacity, without the need for prior risk assessment. This applies to several types of events. Thus, events of a family nature are excluded, including weddings and christenings, religious celebrations, events of a corporate nature held in spaces suitable for that purpose, including conference halls, tourist establishments, venues suitable for trade fairs, and cultural events in venues of a fixed nature. 

 

9. NURSING HOMES AND HEALTH SERVICES WITH REDOUBLED CARE

The Government recovers, in this state of calamity, several cares to be applied for the protection of residents in residential structures for the elderly, continued care units and other structures and residential responses dedicated to children, young people and people with disabilities".

These are:

Visits can only be made to users upon negative test or the presentation of Covid Digital Certificate, in the modalities of test or recovery certificates - beware, the vaccination certificate by itself is not enough.

10. GYMS (YES, ONLY WITH A COVID TEST OR CERTIFICATE)

The Government also enforces mandatory negative test or vaccination certificate for access to gyms and fitness centres at the time of check-in or entry to the establishments.

11. UNDER-12S EXEMPT FROM TESTING

Under 12 year olds are exempt from the obligation to present a Covid Digital Certificate and to present proof of a negative test result or a test carried out.

12. TESTS, CERTIFICATE AND HIGH VIGILANCE AT AIRPORTS (WITH ONE EXCEPTION)

Until 9 January 2022 passengers will be required to present a test or EU Digital Certificate in the form of a test or recovery certificate. Therefore, the vaccination certificate alone is not enough.

But there are more details to note:

National citizens and foreign citizens with legal residence in mainland territory without proof of test will have to perform upon arrival from national territory and before entering mainland territory, at their own cost rapid antigen test (TRAg);

Minors under 12 years of age are excluded from these norms;

Passengers coming from the Azores and Madeira to the Portuguese mainland are exempt from presenting a negative test for covid-19 before boarding;

Third country nationals without legal residence in national territory who board without the test will be refused entry into national territory";

The Government has the power to determine, by order, that passengers on flights from countries considered to be at risk, will comply with a prophylactic isolation period of 14 days, at home or at a place indicated by the health authorities. 

 

IF YOU ARE TRAVELLING BY PLANE AS OF 1ST DECEMBER, KEEP THESE INDICATIONS IN MIND

A guide with questions and answers for those making quick trips (return trip within 24 hours), for business, tourism or any other reason.

To whom does the obligation to present the covid test to enter Portugal apply?

All passengers, regardless of nationality - including Portuguese - and where they come from, are obliged from 1 December to submit a negative covid test to enter Portugal. This applies even to people who are already vaccinated or recovered.

Are children also covered by this rule?

Only children under 12 years of age are excluded from the requirement to have a negative covid test to travel. If they are over 12 years old, the same rule applies as for adults.

Who does this control?

The airlines are obliged to control the negative test of all passengers travelling to Portugal, which must be done at check-in - under penalty of a fine of 20 thousand euros per passenger in case of infraction. In the limit can be suspended the flight license to operate in Portugal.

Does the obligation to present covid tests also apply to those entering Madeira and the Azores?

No, the measures announced by the Government apply to the entire territory of mainland Portugal. The autonomous regions are responsible for their own rules. But all passengers travelling from Madeira or the Azores to mainland Portugal, Portuguese or foreigners, must present a negative test when checking in in order to board (in the opposite direction of the journey, the rules decreed by the autonomous regions are followed).

Do those travelling to Portugal, and checking in at a Portuguese airport have to present a negative test according to the new rules?

No, this depends on the rules adopted by the countries you are travelling too. The scope of the announced measures is limited to passengers arriving in Portugal and that is why the control of the test must be done during check-in process at the destination from where you are departing. 

Which tests are valid in order to travel?

The tests for these purposes can be PCR type (performed in a laboratory) or antigen type (performed in a pharmacy). The PCR tests can be done up to 72 hours before departure and the antigen tests up to 48 hours.

Where can people do the tests in order to travel?

The tests have to be done at the destination from where you are leaving (unless the test done on departure from Portugal is still valid). 

Does the testing requirement apply only to those entering by air? 

No, it applies to all people entering the national territory, whether by air, sea or land.

Do cruise passengers, disembarking or on stopovers, also have to present a test? 

Yes, the rule applies to all those who enter the national territory. 

In the case of those coming from Spain by car, do they also have to have a valid test?

Yes, although in this case, as the land borders are open, this control is already random. But at any moment the security authorities can ask for the document.

Because of the new rules, will there be more checkpoints at airports for those who arrive from abroad?

According to what the Portuguese Government has announced, the controls at airports will be reinforced, even resorting to private security companies to ensure that the test control is done on all passengers and not randomly. 

NOTE 1 

People who have recovered from covid in the past six months are exempted from testing negative for covid-19 to enter Portugal, under restrictions in place since Wednesday. Those recovered from covid in a period of less than six months usually show false positives in tests, hence this measure. In these cases, and according to the new Portuguese travel rule, it is sufficient for recovered persons to present the respective digital certificate of recovery when checking in, provided that the period in the document is not more than six months.

Another exception contemplated in this rule of mandatory tests to enter Portugal is cross-border workers, taking into account that there are many Portuguese who on a base cross the border with Spain to go to work (or vice versa). They also do not need to test negative.

NOTE 2

If you are traveling on TAP, check this address - it has up-to-date information on restrictions and conditions: https://www.flytap.com/pt-pt/alertas-e-informacoes .

Source: Article from the Expresso Semanário newspaper of 1 December

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