Coronavirus: Christmas and New Year restrictions in Portugal explained

The rules in Portugal will be eased slightly for Christmas, while New Year celebrations will be subject to stricter measures.

Christmas 2020 in Portugal
Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash
15 December 2020, Emma Donaldson

With the Christmas holiday season just around the corner, it's time to get our heads around the COVID-19 rules and regulations for Portugal during the Christmas and New Year period. Like many other European countries, Portugal is set to ease its COVID-19 restrictions over the Christmas period so that people can spend the main part of the holiday with their loved ones and visit family and friends. However, stricter measures will be brought back into force just a few days later in a bid to avoid a spike in infections at New Year's Eve parties, according to Portugal's Prime Minister Antonio Costa, who outlined Portugal's COVID regulations for Christmas and the New Year earlier this month. Let's have a look at everything you can and can't do in Portugal during the 2020 Christmas holidays

Christmas curfew and travel between municipalities in Portugal

Travel between municipalities in Portugal during  Christmas will be allowed but only between 23rd and 26th December (inclusive). During this period, the curfew times will also be relaxed for those who are travelling. The current curfew in Portugal applies from 11pm to 5am, while on 23rd December, the curfew will be pushed back and be in force between 1am and 5am. Those who are travelling are exempt and may travel to their destination during this time. The curfew time will be further relaxed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (24th and 25th December) and will apply from 2am to 5am, while on the 26th, curfew will return to normal and circulation will be allowed only until 11pm. 

Christmas family gatherings in Portugal 

Christmas traditions in Portugal always include family lunches and dinners, and while Christmas celebrations in 2020 will be different, family gatherings will be allowed this year, but with caution. There is no limit on how many people can gather per household for Christmas (on 24th and 25th December). In spite of this relaxed measure, Prime Minister Antonio Costa also pleaded with people to wear face masks during family gatherings, stating that “it’s essential that this Christmas is a time for sharing but that in this sharing there is no involuntary transmission of the coronvirus". It's important to note that the Portugese Government have also stressed that these new regulations are subject to change if the health situation worsens in the lead up to Christmas. 

New Year lockdown rules in Portugal

Things in Portugal will become stricter as 2020 comes to a close. On 31st December, New Year’s Eve, the traditional street parties where revellers usually ring in the New Year will be banned, while any other outdoor gatherings will be limited to a maximum of 6 people. People will still be allowed to meet at each other’s houses as long as they stay in their own municipalities and return home before the nighttime curfew which begins at 2am. Circulation between municipalities in Portugal will also be forbidden between midnight on 31st December 2020 and 05:00 on 4th January 2021, unless you are travelling for “health, emergency or other reasons specifically provided for”. 

Travelling to Portugal from abroad this Christmas

If you are planning to travel to Portugal this Christmas, then all of the above domestic travel measures will also apply. There are currently no restrictions on UK, EU and Schengen area travellers, but take note that this is subject to change and you should check the latest information from local authorities before your trip. Keep in mind that Portugal currently carries out airport screening and temperature checks, while some travellers arrving in Portugal may also be required to take a COVID-19 test and self isolate until the results come back.

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