Portugal will allow visitors from the UK to enter the country starting Monday next week, bringing relief to thousands of UK tourists and football fans.
Chelsea will play Manchester City in the newly arranged Champions League final on May 29 at the Estadio do Dragao in Porto. Many fans have already bought plane tickets and booked accommodation.
Thousands more tourists had booked vacations in anticipation of a post-lockdown celebration after Portugal was put on the UK’s green travel list and they were preparing to travel starting Monday.
However, all of their plans have been put in doubt after it is revealed that Portugal’s own non-EU travel restrictions that apply to the UK may not be lifted until May 30th.
The country’s official travel website, Visit Portugal, has now released a statement confirming that British tourists will be able to enter Portugal from midnight Sunday.
Chelsea and Man City fans celebrated their fantastic semi-finals triumphs last week. They are now destined for Portugal after the Champions League final on May 29th was postponed
“The Portuguese Foreign Minister announced today that British tourists would be allowed to enter Portugal from May 17th 00:00,” the statement said.
With this decision, the main travel restriction, which applies until May 16, is lifted. ”
Currently, it is still illegal for the British to travel abroad for no substantial reason. However, this will change on May 17th when people will be allowed to fly to countries with low Covid infection rates.
Travelers to countries on the “Red List” must be quarantined for 10 days in a government-approved hotel upon arrival in the UK.
Those who come from countries with an amber list, including Switzerland, where UEFA is headquartered, are required to self-isolate at home for 10 days and take a Covid test on the second and eighth days.
While those who are returning from countries that are on the “green list”, which should include Portugal, do not have to isolate, but have to take a test
Visitors are required to have a coronavirus PCR test within 72 hours of leaving for Portugal.
And with words that will warm the hearts of British visitors after 24 hours of uncertainty and fear, the statement ends: “We look forward to welcoming all travelers from the UK.”
Ryanair was the first out of the blocks to announce four additional flights to accommodate Chelsea and Manchester City fans traveling to the Champions League final after “great demand”.
Stansted to Porto and Manchester to Porto flights will be dropping on Friday 28 May and Sunday 30 May.
The direct flights cost £ 565 round-trip, compared to around £ 100 for a typical weekend round trip.
The new Ryanair flights come after Mariana Vieira da Silva, Portugal’s Minister for Cabinet Affairs, said fans will “come and return on charter flights the same day with a test in a bubble situation” and be in Portugal for less than 24 hours’ .
However, UEFA is confident that fans will be able to travel independently. Portugal is now opening its borders and there are no restrictions on other visitors.
It is clear, however, that the country would prefer fans to be part of the club’s travel plans.
The travel crisis exploded on Thursday. It came after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced he would lift the UK’s restriction on travel abroad, which means people can travel to green list countries like Portugal without self-isolating on their return.
However, the guidelines posted on the Portuguese government’s website on Thursday said that ministers had approved a move to continue the current lockdown level.
Manchester City and Chelsea have booked their places in the Champions League final
Meanwhile, UEFA was desperate to find a city to host the Champions League final after being forced to abandon its plans for Istanbul’s Ataturk Stadium due to a devastating coronavirus outbreak.
The UK government surprised the European Football Association Chelsea, Manchester City and the Turkish Football Authorities when it announced that Turkey would be on the red travel and travel list and English fans should not attend the game.
Despite “extensive” talks between UEFA and the UK government, hopes that Wembley could host the game were dashed as the UK failed to agree to accommodate more than 2,000 VIPs, guests and staff to attend the game Waive exceptions.
Earlier this week, Portugal became favorites for the all-English final and fans started booking flights in anticipation.
The Estadio do Dragao, with a capacity of 50,000 people in Porto, was chosen as the venue for the final
When UEFA officially announced that the game would take place at the 50,000-seat Estadio do Dragao in Porto, which was attended by at least 12,000 fans from Chelsea and Manchester City, flights were already sold out.
Almost immediately, the plans of fans and tourists were thrown into chaos when it turned out that they would eventually not be allowed to enter Portugal.
Portugal was expected to lift its entry ban on European tourists, but there was confusion amid reports that the ban could be extended until May 30.
A meeting of the Portuguese cabinet extended the country’s official “calamity” until the end of the month, but there was no clarity about travel.
The situation was made more difficult by the fact that Portugal followed the guidelines set by the European Commission. The Portuguese reportedly believed the rules would be lifted by the Commission on Sunday, but in fact they are not due to be reviewed until next week.
The matter was seen as sensitive as Portugal currently holds the EU Presidency and therefore appears reluctant to take a unilateral move.
Intensive discussions followed between the British government and the Portuguese authorities with representatives of UEFA at the highest level. An announcement was scheduled for the weekend but, given the mounting pressure and panic from British tourists, finalists and their fans in the balance, it appears to have been brought forward.
Manchester City and Chelsea face each other in the game that was to take place in Istanbul