Portugal, Italy and Greece ease travel restrictions for Irish holidaymakers

With mid-term and Easter holidays approaching, tourist destinations are becoming more accessible

Carvoeiro in the Algarve, Portugal

Pól Ó Conghaile

There’s one less barrier to holidaying in Portugal this week.

The popular holiday destination has dropped its requirement for fully vaccinated passengers to show a negative Covid-19 test result on arrival.

The rule change came into effect on Monday, February 7, and applies to travellers who hold a valid EU Covid Cert or other proof of vaccination.

Travellers can also enter by showing proof of recovery from Covid-19 within the previous 180 days, or a negative test result acquired within 72 hours of boarding.

Similar to Ireland, Portugal introduced the temporary pre-departure testing requirement in an effort to control the spread of Omicron late last year.

Its removal comes as travel testing restrictions for a number of popular tourist destinations are being cut.

Italy scrapped its pre-departure testing requirement for fully vaccinated travellers from February 1, for example. Greece did the same this week, according to the travel advisory section of Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs.

The official Greek travel site is still quoting old rules, however.

Sweden says it will lift entry restrictions for travellers from the EU and European Economic Area from Wednesday, February 9, Morocco has reopened to fully vaccinated visitors after a lengthy travel ban, and Australia plans to reopen to fully vaccinated tourists from February 21.

The widespread easing of restrictions comes as Irish airlines and travel agents report a booking “rebound” and increased customer confidence following the Omicron wave.

It also follows an EU rule change that, since February 1, means the EU Covid Cert is only valid as proof of vaccination for travel purposes up to 270 days from the completion of a primary vaccination course.

If travellers show proof of a booster dose, however, no time limit applies.

The EU wants its new rules to simplify travel, allowing people who have proof of vaccination, recovery, or a negative test to move freely without having to face quarantine or additional testing.

The rules are non-binding, however, and holidaymakers should remain alert to subtle differences depending on their destination.

Austria requires vaccinated arrivals who have not been boosted to show a negative PCR test result, for example. Requirements for children can also vary according to their age.

Holidaymakers travelling to Spain from Ireland with a valid EU Covid Cert must complete its Health Control Form before departure and obtain a QR code to present at boarding.

Children under 12 are exempt from Spain’s testing and quarantine requirements.

Passengers should also be aware that infection rates and Covid-related rules can differ widely on the ground.

In Portugal, for instance, Covid Certs are required for access to holiday accommodation and restaurants. A negative test result, proof of recovery, or a certificate showing a booster dose is needed to access bars and clubs.

In Italy, people must show proof of vaccination or recovery to take public transport, visit bars or restaurants, attend sports events or attend ski facilities.

See reopen.europa.eu or dfa.ie/travel for more into.