Portugal is now open to American tourists with a negative COVID-19 test

4d ago

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A handful of European nations popular with American travelers have reopened their borders to vaccinated U.S. citizens already, including Iceland, France, Spain, Croatia and Greece.

Now, we can add another country to the ever-expanding list: Portugal.

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Portugal on Tuesday, June 15 said that nonessential travel — which includes tourism — from the U.S. to mainland Portugal is now allowed for travelers with proof of a negative COVID-19 test. The update appeared on the site for the U.S. Embassy and Consulate in Portugal

Travelers headed to Portugal must provide proof of a negative nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT), such as a PCR test, taken within 72 hours before boarding. Rapid tests are also accepted but must be performed within 24 hours of boarding. This applies to all travelers except those under 2. This rule goes into effect on June 15, 2021. 

However, the government said the measure would be reviewed every two weeks and currently expires at midnight on June 27. Portugal has recorded over 858,000 positive cases of the coronavirus and more than 17,000 deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins University tracker. And just over 22% of the population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Portugal’s decision comes amid a near-constant drumbeat of European nations reopening to Americans.

The vaccine campaign in the U.S. has largely been a success, allowing the country to finally get a handle on the pandemic. Reported cases have been falling consistently for weeks, and states and cities across the country have been lifting pandemic-related restrictions throughout the spring.

As a result, many European nations that are heavily reliant on American tourism have decided it’s time to open their tourism sectors back up to those Americans who have been completely vaccinated against COVID-19.

Initially, it was thought that Portugal would reopen first to fully vaccinated Americans. Last week, Reuters reported that the country’s economy minister, Pedro Siza Vieira, said Portugal was planning an imminent opening of its borders to Americans who had a full regimen of vaccines (and had completed their final vaccine dose at least 14 days prior to entering the country).

According to Reuters, just over 135,000 Americans visited Portugal last year, down from about 1.2 million in 2019. And, the southern European nation was newly placed on the United Kingdom’s “Amber List,” which means U.K. citizens returning home from Portugal are required to complete a 10-day quarantine — a big setback for the Portuguese tourism recovery effort.

Portugal is currently open for visitors from other EU nations that are considered to have low infection rates, but travelers must present proof of a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival and may have to contend with stricter regulations upon returning home.

Getting to Portugal

Before the pandemic, TAP Air Portugal, the country’s flag carrier, was adding routes to the U.S. from both Lisbon (LIS) and Porto (OPO) at a rapid clip. While most of the routes to Lisbon — and one between Newark (EWR) and Porto — have survived the pandemic, many are operating at reduced frequencies due to the Portuguese border being basically closed for more than a year.

Earlier this spring, we saw TAP offer business-class fares to Portugal and beyond for under $1,000, and though those prices aren’t currently available, there are some relatively affordable premium fares to consider in the next couple of months. For example, you can fly between Boston (BOS) and Lisbon for about $2,100 round-trip on select dates from July through the end of the year, or from $2,600 on select dates this summer from Newark to Lisbon.

(Screenshot from Google Flights)

If you’re fine in coach, there are certainly deals to be had. Both TAP and its Star Alliance partner, United, are offering round-trip, nonstop tickets from Newark to Lisbon for less than $400 and round-trip, nonstop flights from Washington-Dulles (IAD) for around $450 later in the summer.

(Screenshot from Google Flights)

If you want to burn the points you’ve hoarded throughout the pandemic, there are plenty of options for getting to Portugal. TAP is a member of the Star Alliance, meaning searching for awards through United MileagePlus is a good place to start. While there doesn’t appear to be availability on many of TAP’s nonstop flights to Lisbon, flights are available in business class from 69,000 miles each way on a combination of Star Alliance carriers.

(Screenshot from United. Airlines)

Additional reporting by Victoria M. Walker.

Featured photo by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy

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