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The telegraph

What to do if you visit Portugal in the next 14 days

If you thought green meant go, you may need to reconsider. Travelers who were all planning to travel to Portugal on Monday may now have to wait at least May 30th to gain entry. The Lisbon government yesterday extended the “state of public calamity” – the second highest level of alert – that is being imposed on Covid-related restrictions on the mainland for an additional 15 days from today. For those who have hoped to travel, here are some key questions answered. What does this mean if you have booked a package tour? If your booking is due to depart before May 30th and tourism is not allowed to resume in mainland Portugal, your tour operator must legally cancel the holiday and offer you a cash refund within two weeks. If you decide to terminate unilaterally, you will lose this right. So don’t act hastily, wait until you hear from the operator. Tui, the UK’s largest vacation company, says it is closely monitoring the situation and will provide another update as soon as the Portuguese government clarifies. What if you travel independently? If you’ve booked your flight and accommodation separately, you won’t have the same coverage as a package. At least some flights are expected to operate – Ryanair and BA are currently planning several flights to mainland Portugal on Monday, while EasyJet will offer flights on Friday. Others can be canceled. In this case, passengers are entitled to a refund. If your flight is still in progress, no refund will be due if you do not travel. However, it is likely that you can switch to a later departure with no penalty (although you will have to pay extra if that flight is more expensive). Accommodation depends on the conditions under which you have booked. If there is still time for a free cancellation, you can of course use this option. If the accident prevents the hotel, villa or apartment from opening, you should also get a refund. If it’s available to stay in and you can’t get there, you are on weak ground. If you can’t get a refund, try negotiating a stay at a later date. Does the insurance help? Almost certainly not. Very few, if any, policies cover reimbursement of cancellation charges in these circumstances. How is the situation after May 30th? We just don’t know yet. However, if you are scared and don’t want to travel, don’t cancel without speaking to your tour operator and realizing the ramifications. Most are extremely flexible at the moment but will not offer you a refund until they are actually forced to cancel. However, you can almost certainly rebook for a later date. How is the situation in Madeira? Madeira and the neighboring island of Porto Santo (as well as the Azores) are not affected by the accident, so the holidays there should start again as usual. Tui has confirmed that all public holidays to Madeira and Porto Santo will run as planned from Monday. What would happen if I tried to get on a plane to Portugal on Monday if travel is not allowed? Current Portuguese immigration regulations state that you are only allowed to enter the country for “essential purposes”. This includes travel to live with immediate family members, or for professional, educational, health, or humanitarian reasons – there are no instructions, for example, on travel to check out and maintain a second home. If your trip does not meet these requirements, you will either be denied boarding or (more likely) denied boarding at the airport of arrival and you will have to book a return flight to the UK. However, the interpretation of what is “essential” may depend on the discretion of the immigration officer who interviewed you when you arrive – and it’s a bit of a gray area. Do you have any questions about traveling to Portugal? Submit them below