What to expect when you travel now
The Covid-19 pandemic has altered our lifestyles radically, caused serious and fatal health issues, and we hope that you and your family have not been affected tragically by this outbreak.
However, Spain, France and Portugal have contained the virus with extremely severe measures and apart from some small resurgences in communities that are being isolated and controlled, their governments have been able to take away the restrictions in a very structured manner with the aim of returning to normal as much as social distancing and new sanitising protocols will allow.
For us in the UK, travelling abroad will require us to adjust our expectations a little to allow for social distancing and more cleansing, and masks will be worn in many establishments by staff (almost always) and by us (in specific environments) until such time as the virus is contained globally and/or medicines are produced to treat it successfully. However this will be the same whether we are abroad or at home when we go out, and we will be getting used to this.
Paradors of Spain and Pousadas (including Pesta na) have brought in a well defined set of protocols for their staff and guests to follow, to ensure that their hotels are kept as sanatised as possible and to be able to offer you as full a range of services as they can. All Paradors are now open (excluding Leon) and Pestana and Pousadas are reopening their properties carefully in several stages. Our range of European hotels, through Keytel S.A. and Eurostars Hotels, are reopening in June and July, as are most of the chateaux and charming hotels in the Collectionneurs range of hotels across France.
We already know that bars, restaurants and cafes have been reopening steadily across the Continent with the particular use of their outdoor terraces initially. Each government has, as you might expect, a very well-structured plan for the tiered opening of these services whilst monitoring and reacting to the containment of the virus. Tourist attractions such as the Alhambra are now reopening. Attractions and museums are reopening following regional guidelines in July and August.
There are some important changes about the services in Paradors and Pousadas being altered, which you should note in particular:
Paradors: Their usual, highly extensive range of breakfast can still be enjoyed but by waiter service rather than self-service, and upon check-in you will be asked to book a table at a specific hour so that guest numbers can be managed in the breakfast room. This will permit you to enjoy your breakfast with more space and friendly service.
Dinner will be served and tables booked as usual, but with special attention given to your space and hygienic measures in the restaurant and kitchen, so that you can enjoy a lovely meal in peace and comfort.
Please see here for their full range of measures implemented for your safety and reassurance: Parador Measures
Pousadas & Pestana Hotels: Similarly, Pestana Hotels and Resorts, and Pousadas, have undertaken very strict hygienic procedures in the hotels that are now opening, and are taking these measures very seriously. As a result of the additional demands on their reception and cleaning staff, they have adjusted their check-in and check-out times to permit this to be carried out properly, so would you please note that for the time being, clients are being asked to delay arrival at these hotels until 4pm onwards, and to depart before 11am on the morning of checking out. Pestana hotels and Pousadas comply with Portugal's new ''Clean and Safe'' seal of Health and Safety measures, which commits each property and its staff to a charter of procedures and measures that ensures an extremely high level of cleaning and mindfulness of the risk of infection, so as to provide you with confidence.
Please see here for their full range of measures implemented for your safety and reassurance : Pousada & Pestana Measures
Important information for you to note before you travel:
To Spain: All travellers to Spain must fill out an “FCS” form in advance, informing the authorities of their arrival flight details and passport number which can be found here: https://www.spth.gob.es/
If you are traveling soon by ferry or crossing the border by car, please note that there is no guidance as to how to complete this form yet, so you may prefer to provide the name of your ferry or border point on this form instead of a flight number, so that you can comply with the requirement of filling out and carrying this form? If you are not travelling very soon, it is advisable to wait and monitor news on that website.
Masks will need to be worn in certain public places. The Spanish Tourist Office has published the following information and guidelines for tourists to follow: https://www.spain.info/en_GB/reportajes/informacion-practica-turistas-covid-19-viajar-espana.html
To Portugal: All travellers to Portugal need to be aware of the requirements for social distancing and the wearing of masks, as follows: https://www.visitportugal.com/en/node/421175 (you can also see more on their airport website: www.ana.pt/en/corporate/ana/security-measures)
We hope that, with an open mind you can enjoy resuming your travel ambitions soon. Just like here in the UK, we will all have to be more cautious in public but much of the inspirational appeal of being abroad and exploring different cultures and delicious cuisines remains.
We wish you adventure, safe travelling and wonderful memories to bring back.