PORTUGAL ONE OF THE SAFEST DESTINATIONS TO TRAVEL TO AFTER CORONA
A trip to our inner selves
This quarantine period, with its own constraints, has allowed us many different and strong experiences. Even though we are not allowed to travel I think, in general we, and the world, are doing an expedition to and within our inner selves.
We frequently say, “we are transformed after a trip”. Personally, that is one of the main reasons I love to travel.
Nowadays, I think, many of us already feel this familiar change, during this huge planetarium expedition, where each one travels in their own way: amongst fears, encounters, peacefulness, memories, anxieties, unpredictability, through new ways of sharing, ‘saudades’, (re)discovering new and old activities, detoxing from shopping, sharing secrets, finding different ways of connecting and transforming all of this, and by using different forms of expression (words, painting, cooking, writing, silence, and many others).
Of course, I am thinking about the ones who have a home and can allow themselves the privilege of a quarantine. For all the other people out there, the probability of unfulfilled basic needs (home, food, security) determine differently this experience, compromising all the good stuff we can take from it. A fact that I can attest from my parallel clinical work with refugees and migrants. A subject for many other articles.
But in the end, during this inner expedition, all of us are asking ourselves: will I be able to travel again soon? And when will it be? Some of you, who have trips scheduled to Lisbon or who planned to come to Lisbon during the next months, asked me: “do you think it will be possible to come to Lisbon soon?”
Well, I think so! And here is why.
Portugal’s amazing recover from Coronavirus
A few weeks ago, Portugal started to be mentioned in several newspapers and online articles (CNN, spiegle.de, Franceinter.fr, Politico.eu) as a particular case in this pandemic situation.
The world was astonished how the country had controlled the virus spread, showing an unlikely victory over the coronavirus. Mortality rate hovers just above 3 per cent (contrasting with close countries like France, Spain, U.K.) even though Portugal has more citizens aged over 80 than anywhere else in the EU, except Italy and Greece.
How was this “mysterious miracle” – as some articles named it, like France Inter stated – was possible?
A combination of factors and explanations are necessary in order to explain Portugal’s relative success with this fight: geographical, political, social.
Being Europe’s most westerly country, provided Portugal with a time lag, which allowed the country to introduce countermeasures at a very early stage (schools were closed when there were ‘just’ 245 people and even before the state of emergency has been declared; on March 18, the state of emergency had been declared, facing ‘only’ 448 people infected).
The cleaner air of Portugal and decades of anti-tuberculosis vaccinations are pointed as another possible factor.
For those who are curious, Portugal’s lockdown is less strict than in many other European countries. We are allowed to do daily exercise, go out to shop for food or to go to the pharmacy. Factories and construction sites can stay open, as well as … flower shops! Still, most of us prefer to stay in. “We should celebrate the enormous self-discipline people have shown” politicians mentioned.
Last but not least, but not the least, social and community strengths. Immediately after the lockdown was implemented, many projects popped up, raised by citizens, associations, individuals, groups, formal and informal. Free festivals to stimulate the Portuguese to stay at home, money donations to hospitals, networks of food delivery, care to homeless, neighbours support, and much more!
Politically, the government granted citizenship rights to migrants and asylum seekers who have residency applications underway, to ensure more people in the country can access social security and health care.
We have good news! We are breathing hope in Portugal!
Now, the collected data indicates that the curve of the Corona daily corona cases count is decreasing, which means that the situation is controlled IF we keep the same attitude and measures, at the least, during the next month.
In May, hotels and restaurants will start to open gradually, slowly and safely (with staff wearing masks and gloves), in an environment of “generalized hygiene in all restaurants, hotels, and since tourists enter airports”.
But, “despite the slowing pace of the pandemic, it’s too early to contemplate a relaxation of restrictive measures to easy Portugal’s economic pain”, mentioned by Portugal’s Prime Minister, António Costa. For now, at least until the end of May, we will stand one’s ground regarding most of the constraint measures.
When will IT be safe to travel again?
We are aware that each country represents a single case, with its social and epidemic characteristics, it’s own evolution and political measures. So, this is a complex question, but it can be addressed.
Experts say that the situation could be under control in the countries that became first infected, but of course this is not the most prevalent factor.
The best is always to track and monitor the situation in your desired holiday destination to be able to get to a conclusion.
You can also find here the real-time interactive Coronavirus map (Johns Hopkins Institute), to regularly check the COVID-19 expansion status around the world.
You should also consult your local State Department, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and similar entities.
Other signs that it’s safe to travel are when schools and businesses reopen when you can buy travel insurance, for example.
Why is Portugal one of the best destinations to travel after Corona?
We do not know the day Portugal will open its borders but, as we mentioned before, we are already seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.
What we are certain of, is that when we will be able to travel and to take flights again, we will be eager to truly connect, to share, and to engage with local communities, within safe and hygienic environments, small cities, not overpopulated, with good climate, amazing gastronomy and stunning landscapes.
And Portugal has all that!
Underpopulated areas and safe environment – You can easily find yourselves in the ‘countryside’ even in Lisbon city capital, by walking ten minutes from a central area (our guests who did our 17 Tastings Lisbon Food and Walking Tour always underlined this fact). It is very easy to be socially connected without compromising our safe space and peacefulness.
Taxis are so cheap that you can move between two distant areas without using public transports.
Additionally, after a half an hour taxi trip from Lisbon, you can find several beaches each one with such different and amazing landscapes! Furthermore, you can also take the commuter ferry boat, cross Tagus river and have a fantastic late lunch facing the sunset. You can spend a day kayaking in Arrábida and so on!
It’s easy to rent a car or take a train and explore the beautiful, calm and off the beaten path Portuguese countryside: the Alentejo region has endless places to go, but dont’ forget the the central and northern of Portugal, stuffed with empty fresh river-beaches during the summer or the Atlantic coast with its hidden spots.
Unexplored and accessible beautiful areas and islands – The number of small villages, family accommodations and country houses in Portugal is endless. You will find yourself in the most precious silence with breathtaking colours, a pure environment and all with the most generous hosts. Just to give you an example, check this one where I spent a long weekend last year, near Alentejo, one hour and a half from Lisbon (I remember I posted this place on Suck My Cod instagram and some of you stayed there, afterwards). It was such an incredible discovery!
All photos taken by Sílvia Olivença.