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Spain and Portugal are open and accepting tourists, but should you go? The short answer is, it’s complicated.
The delta variant of covid has hit both countries hard, and the numbers of infections are rising exponentially. While it may feel like the pandemic is fading in some countries, it seems to be ramping up for another spike in Spain and Portugal.
Both countries have introduced new curfews. Portugal has shortened opening hours for stores, restaurants, and bars with a curfew between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. Lisbon has gone into lockdown from 3 p.m. on Friday until 5 a.m. on Monday for the past several weekends. To leave or enter Lisbon during that time, you’ll need a negative covid test or proof of vaccination.
In Spain, curfew starts at 1 a.m. and ends at 6 a.m. in areas with more than 5,000 residents with a covid rate of 400 new infections per 100,000 or higher. All bars and restaurants close at 12:30 a.m., and eating and drinking in the streets are prohibited.
Other European countries are taking note of the spike in Portugal and Spain. For example, one week ago, France told its citizens to avoid both countries. While this is not an outright ban, it is of concern that bans could occur, hindering travel itineraries. Just three weeks ago, Germany briefly banned all travel from Portugal even though US citizens are permitted to enter from their home country.
On Friday evenings and throughout the weekend, all restaurants in Portugal require either a digital covid certificate to prove complete vaccination which is only available to residents or citizens of the EU. Restaurants also accept a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours or a rapid test taken in front of staff.
All lodgings in Portugal also require any of those three options (72 hr PCR, rapid test, or EU digital cert) at check-in.
So if you are quick upon checking in after your flight and stay in only one place, perhaps you can get by with the initial PCR test you took to get on the plane. Otherwise, you’ll need to test locally. Some visitors report their US CDC-issued vaccination card is being accepted in some circumstances.
Finally, within the last month, both the Portuguese border officials and the airport crews have had separate strikes leading to uncertainty, multi-hour lines at immigration, and hundreds of canceled and missed flights.