covid-19 measures for Madeira

covid-19 measures for Madeira

Latest update on October 20, 2021. New, relaxed covid-19 measures were already in place since the beginning of May. Infection rates have dropped significantly over the past months, and now seem to be stabilising at five to ten new infections per day. Of course, there are also people who recovered every day. The total number of active covid cases in Madeira currently fluctuates around 70. There are usually only a handful of people in hospital and very few, if any, in intensive care.

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

table of content

covid-19 test on entry

The compulsory test upon entry into the region (i.e. for Madeira and for Porto Santo) remains in force, but from November 1st onward, Antigen tests are accepted as well, provided they are taken by a professional. For residents, emigrants and students the second test on the fifth day after arrival still applies, but the compulsory quarantine between the two tests has been abolished. This makes life a lot more pleasant for anyone coming ‘home’.

If you have been PCR-tested before travelling to Madeira (within 72 hours before departure) there is no need for a test upon arrival and you can use the green corridor. That is also the case if you have recovered from covid-19 within the last 180 days, or if you are fully vaccinated and have obtained full immunity (every vaccine needs time to ‘kick in’, as a rule of thumb two weeks will do the trick). Make sure to upload proof of either to the website.

You can read everything about the test procedure at the airport of Madeira here. The article tells you exactly how it works and also instructs you how to register on the madeirasafe website, which is compulsory for anyone travelling to the island.

the rules

The basic rules for protection against the virus still apply: keep a distance of 2 metres, wear masks where necessary, disinfect your hands regularly. Every business has disinfectant at the entrance, whether it is a shop, a restaurant or an office. Have a look at the other rules below.


The curfew has been lifted from October 15. That means that night clubs and discos are open again.

bars and restaurants

Bars, restaurants and clubs may use two thirds of their capacity. Maximum 6 people at one table inside, or 10 at one table outside, unless it is a larger group belonging to the same household. The same applies to weddings and parties, and certainly to funerals too. Standing at the bar to drink is still not allowed, and as soon as you stand up from your table: mask on.


Shops – in fact, all businesses – must close at midnight, but most close erlier. For shops, there is a maximum of 50% of the number of normally permitted customers and is therefore area-related. In practice, you don’t even notice this rule exists unless it is extremely busy.

swimming pools

The swimming pools are open for the season. The changing rooms and showers will remain closed. The maximum number of people is also related to the surface area: a maximum of 1 person for every 4 m2 . This also applies to children’s playgrounds.


Sports competitions for teams playing in the national and international leagues are allowed again, and training for other sports teams is allowed again as well. The gyms are open again, with a maximum of 50% of their capacity. Group lessons are allowed again, with a maximum of 5 people per group.


Performances, cultural events and conferences are allowed again, with a maximum capacity of 50% of the space.


Casinos, bingos and similar establishments are open again, like other businesses, with a maximum capacity related to the available surface.

tourist buses, minibuses, taxis and tourist boats

Tourist transport can be restored to full capacity, provided all passengers can prove that they have either been vaccinated or have recovered from covid-19 in the last 90 days.

other sectors

Less interesting for tourists, but certainly for residents: the ‘loja de cidadão’ is open again, as are all the other government offices that have a public counter. The nursing homes have not changed the somewhat meagre visiting regime of 2 persons per week and always for a maximum of 1 hour.

We have written about it earlier: in spite of the covid measures, life in Madeira is still pretty relaxed. Looking back, I have to add that it’s just as well we didn’t know at the time how long this pandemic would last. By Easter 2020 we thought that things were looking up. Little did we know. More than a year and a half later things are getting better. The Flower Festival, which normally takes place in spring, was postponed till September but it did finally take place. Everyone held their breath to see if the number of new infections would increase steeply, but it didn’t. So probalbly. the Brazil-flavoured Carnival will also be back in spring 2022.

face masks, where do we wear them?

Let me start by saying that we really don’t understand the endless discussions about the masks in other countries. It shows resistance, which does not improve matters. Here in Madeira, people complied, as they understood it was for our own good. Therefore, after the two months of confinement in the beginning, life has been pretty normal and rather relaxed on the island. So back to the masks and the main question: where do we have to wear them?


in all indoor public spaces, also in restaurants and bars. But as soon as you are seated at your own table, you can take your mask off as eating and drinking wearing a mask would be rather messy. When you get up to get a drink at the bar or use the toilet: wear your mask again. Nothing too complicated or too restrictive I should think.


in all public outside spaces. So yes, that means the bar’s terrace as well. And the same rules apply that are in place for indoor spaces. So sit down at a table and take your mask off, start moving around and wear it.


A street is also a public place. And yes, the street is where you have to wear your mask as well. But there is also common sense. In summer, the streets in towns and many villages tend to get quite busy. Often, a 2-metres-distance is simply not feasible. That’s when you wear your mask. When you are doing a walk in Madeira’s lush nature it is considered personal physical exercise, and then you are exempt from wearing a mask. Unless, of course, you walk in a large group when a mask is again compulsory. I suspect the obligation to wear a mask outside willbe dropped soon, but it is still in the official instructions. Common sense, again.

So, do not do your running routine on a busy boulevard where crowds are strolling. Even if you are exempt from wearing a mask, you run a much greater risk, as do the strollers with you panting and puffing without a mask. Common sense. I can’t say it often enough, but be aware of the official rules in place, the ones that say you have to wear a mask in the streets, and if you err, better err on the safe side. Remember these rules have not been in place to hurt or annoy us – like many seem to think – but to keep us safe.

on the beach

On the beach? No, the beach is exempt, but you have to maintain your distance of at least 2 metres from people outside your own family or bubble. The beach crews have already prepared the beaches for this. And yes, again, use your common sense. When you start walking on a crowded beach to get some drinks, wear your mask to protect yourself and others. You have to wear it anyway when you order at the bar. At the risk of repeating myself: use your f*cking common sense. And if you don’t have any, do us all a favour and stay home.

As the photo shows, the beaches are perfectly prepared for visitors, respecting the need for social distancing. Still, like bars and restaurants and their outside spaces, there is no sense of forbidding emptiness. Everything looks inviting and pleasant like it always does. Bravo for the creativity of many managers and owners.

turn it around

We can also turn the whole thing around. In principle, you wear your mask everywhere, but not when you are out in the nature, on the beach, jogging/running/sporting or in your car when it’s just you and your own people. This is putting it very roughly, so do read the rules about bars and restaurants and their terraces. It is not complicated and really not a problem. Unless you decide it is a problem for you. In that case, do us all a favour. Yes, I’ll say it again, don’t come to Madeira to make our lives miserable. The island government has issued some pictograms where you can understand the rules at just one glance. Of course, they forgot the international versions, so I added a caption to make everything crystal clear.

enjoying nature: no mask required.
On the beach: only when you order drinks at the bar
doing sports: no mask required
in the car: only when you travel with strangers

2020 and 2021: fantastic summers after all!

We have had a fantastic summer in 2020, the worst covid year, here on this island paradise. Early 2021 brought an early curfew (7PM weekdays and 6PM weekends) but we found the covid-19 measures very effective and not too intrusive in our lives. We would like to keep the island safe and healthy and large crowds do not go along with that without sensible covid-19 measures. So: be a good boy or girl and wear your mask where you should. Use your common sense and think about the health of others, even if you don’t think your own is so important.

We have witnessed this Island Government take quick and drastic measures when they felt the need. It’s all in your – and our – hands. Ignore the rules where you shouldn’t, and a new outbreak is there before you know it. Always remember you are doing this for your own protection, and for the protection of others against a very nasty and stubborn virus. It has already disrupted the lives of many. Use your common sense and do not add yours to those lives. Having said all that, the present rules are no longer very intrusive and life in Madeira has found its relaxed and friendly feel again.

Enjoy your stay in paradise.


Yes, there is a postscript. New information appears by the hour. Well, maybe not as frequently as it did in the beginning of the pandemic. Still, much information is confusing at first. It may turn out that your common sense will be the most important and the most powerful of all covid-19 measures.

Thinking back of the early days of the pandemic, we have really come a long way. That alienating atmosphere that existed at the beginning, that abnormality that we all tried in vain to consider normal, is over. The measures have already borne fruit and no, it isn’t over yet, but the initially strange rules have found a place and are no longer able to totally control or spoil our lives. Vaccinations have come a long way in many parts of the world, including here in Madeira, where we have already had our two Pfizer shots. We are getting there.

your turn

Any thoughts or questions on this subject? Jump to the comments text field and tell us what you think. Please do not ask your questions by mailing me, as I will end up answering the same questions over and over again. Unless, of course it’s too personal for the public eye.

Subscribe, as not to miss any of my future articles. Jump to the foot of the page and submit your email. That’s all.


By Peter Groen

Peter was born in Amsterdam in 1949. He has a history in PR and copywriting. Now, part time resident of the Island of Madeira of over 10 years, he writes about Madeira, its culture, its overwhelming nature, its food and drink, and about everything concerning travel to and on this beautiful island.


  1. Hi Peter,

    A very well considered, researched, structured, and put together updated round-up of the situation as it is now. Thank you once more for the time and effort you put into this.


    1. Thanks again, Steve. To be frank: when I read it again the other day I found that it had become almost unreadable. Far too many updates on updates, so it was time to simplify matters.

      1. You shouldn’t feel like that was so many updates. There’s a certain Prime Minister of a certain country where when he starts a sentence, by the end of it his information is completely out of date. Or just plain wrong. Or he has contradicted himself in one breath.

        But it’s OK. No one can understand what he is warbling about anyway. Possibly not even him.

        1. Whahahahaha. The thing is, I don’t have to listen to him. I have my own Prime Minister to listen to. True enough, what that one says usually makes some sense, but he has a chronic loss of memory and never remembers any enormities we have had to listen to.

  2. Hi everyone,

    I was wondering how serious the Corona situation really is in Madeira. When calculating the 7-day case rate per 100.000 population it would be at around 230, i.e. rather high. Germany (where I am from) has now just issued a travel alert, there the threshold to do so is with a rate of only 50 – where they say with 50 or below health authorities can still control the pandemic.

    Is there any interpretation to the official numbers? I was looking into the article of Diário de Notícias but there is little background.

    For example, if most of the cases are found within a few clusters (e.g. families) then I guess these numbers would be less critical. If, however, the virus is spreading without being able to trace back the infection chains then there would be quite a risk.

    Any views on this?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Ernesto, I had to give this some thought. I think it would not be realistic to say the covid cases are limited to some family clusters. We have seen transmissions at schools and in families, and also in homes for the elderly. On the other hand, the situation is still not considered ‘out of hand’ as we do not have group transmissions yet. The regional government has taken some extra measures as I described in the latest update at the top of the article. Yet, if you respect the rules you are not at great risk, I should think. And on top of respecting the rules, I would avoid concentrations of people, whenever possible. We live in the West of the island, in the council of Calheta, where the number of cases is still very low and we feel quite safe. We can still go out for dinner if we want, we do go out to have a poncha or a glass of wine and we can do our shopping whenever we want. Of course, the bar life here is above all outside, so the risk of virus transmission is low. I hope this gives you an idea. If you can, stay somewhere rural and avoid Funchal, Câmara de Lobos and Caniço if you can, just to make sure. This is the most densely populated area, and the number of cases is disproportionally high there. The best asset of Madeira, its overwhelming nature, is still fully at your disposal. As the number of tourists is low, you really can enjoy all the famous walks but without the usual masses. I hope this helps you form your own idea.

  3. Hello Harold,
    To reply to your question, how do we know where my wife picked up the covid19, the answer, a little long, is as follows.
    I had to go to New Delhi, India on Business. My wife and I spent 10 days in North India. At the time there was only one known case in India and that was in Kerala in the south. Our flight back to Europe via London was cancelled by BA. I flew on Air India to Copenhagen and then on to Zurich for Medical treatment in Switzerland. My wife had to go Delhi, Madrid, Lisbon, Funchal. The Air India flight into Madrid was 3 hours late so she missed the connection to Lisbon and had to overnight in Madrid. Next day on the flight the man next to her was perspiring, shivering and coughing and sneezing all over. My wife started with symptoms 3 days later. Cough, fatigue, shortness of breath but no fever. We spoke to each other every day on the phone. At the time (early February) everyone thought that the key symptom was fever. She had no fever. 2 weeks later I joined her in Madeira. She was then OK apart from the cough and fatigue. The fatigue has continued. Tests in Sweden and Switzerland prove that she had covid19 and has lung damage. It is quite certain in our minds that she could only have caught the virus from the ill passenger sitting next to her. She is slowly recovering but it is taking a long time. She was healthy with no underlying health problems. Fortunately she effectively self isolated as she was too tired to go out and spent most of 10 days in bed.
    Sorry for the long explanation, but hope this helps.

    1. Thank you Richard for the detailed info. I do not doubt that the man next to her was the probable cause, but he might just have had a very bad cold. Anyhow, the main thing is that your wife is recovering and will be better soon. And luckily you didn’t catch the virus.

  4. Hello Peter,
    I very much like your use of the phrase “Common Sense”. Very appropriate but not enough people seem to have it.
    My wife caught Covid 19 on February 12 2020 on a flight from Madrid to Lisbon from the man sitting next to her. It is (or certainly was) possible to catch the virus on a plane. I work in the aerospace industry. The industry group in the USA is A4A. They have a lot of info on safety in flights. It all depends on how much the airline is willing to spend on air filters. The very best are good – but they cost. Not all airlines use these filters. Less good ones do not filter our virus particles which as we all know are very very small. and a considerable amount of air in the cabin is recycled air. So you are just breathing in your fellow passenger’s air, which may include germs. Of course wearing a mask at all times helps.
    I think that the final solution will be that no-one be allowed on the plane until:
    a)they have proof of a negative test within 72 hours of boarding.
    b) a vaccination certificate.
    A) should be in force now and B) later on this year.
    Preferably these conditions should be for all passengers before they are even allowed in the airport.
    If you have ever been to India, this is the existing principle, already there, to combat terrorism. No-one is allowed in the airport without proof, to the army guards outside, that you have reason to enter.

    1. I hope your wife has recovered from COVID. Thank you very much for this information on the filters in the aerospace industry.
      This also seems to be true for offices.
      I can agree with the conditions you list. Warm regards Berendina

    2. Hello Richard,

      I echo Berendina’s comments, and also wish to thank you for posting this excellent information and insight.

      All the best to you


    3. Thank you very much, Richard, for your valuable contribution. Hopefully, your wife has recovered since and does not have a trauma causing her to be afraid of flying now. I agree on everything you state, but having said that, many countries – like my own, the Netherlands – do not cooperate at all where the necessary paper or electronic proof of test of vaccination is concerned. If you get tested by the state-run health service GGD they simply refuse to give you proof, stating that the test is not meant for travel. So you have to find a private service of which you can only hope they have the right PCR test accepted by authorities of the country you need to travel to. As for vaccination, it is too early days to see if they would give you a proof of that. Hypocritically, the Dutch authorities now demand proof of a negative test for anyone, including Dutch nationals, that cannot be older than 48 hours. That effectively makes any legal travel to the Netherlands impossible, as you simply cannot get the timing right. All these rules would be fine, very useful even, if the complete EU would apply the same rules and offer the same facilities, which they unfortunately don’t.
      As for the ‘common sense’ thing, at the time I wrote that I had no idea of how few people turned out to have any sense, let alone common sense.

    4. I have a question: How sure are you that your wife caught the virus from her fellow passenger? Usually there are no symptoms during the first 4 or 5 days. – I hope your wife has overcome this illness.

  5. We went to the Toronto airport last night January 3 to board our flight with Azores Airlines, but were refused boarding. Noone had informed us that Canadians could only enter Madeira if their travel was “essential.” We are very disappointed as we had planned to stay in Madeira for a few months and had booked accommodation, as well as paying for Covid tests, suspending our home phone, informing friends, etc. Being elderly, we had thought it prudent to escape the icy streets of Toronto where one risks falling and find a place where we could walk outside but observe all the Covid rules as carefully as we do here in Toronto. Hopefully, Madeira’s rules for blocking foreign travellers will protect your own population. We do understand how important that is and for that reason are happily accepting the disappointing situation. However, I do think Azores Airlines in Toronto might have warned us before we set out for the airport. After all, they only have one flight a week and last night that flight only had 20 passengers.

    1. Very sorry about this, Catherine. However, it is not a Madeira thing, if it was I would have known. But since the English-South African mutation has surfaced, a lot of panicky measures have been taken. I suspect – but I could not get this confirmed yet – that it is an EU thing banning all but essential travel from non-EU countries. Does not make it any better for you to know why, though. I totally agree with you that SATA should have warned you, as they were happy to accept your money for a ticket. I hope that you get a refund, at the very least. Stay safe. And thank you for sharing this, it may serve as a warning for others.

  6. Peter,
    Thanks for the November update. As you say, much of the measures are common sense, but unfortunately nowadays:
    (1) many people nowadays have an inflated sense of entitlement regardless of the impact it might have on others, and
    (2) common sense isn’t actually that common.

  7. Hi Peter and also Maurice,
    I wouldn’t put too much into the aircraft airflow story. Flying from Durban to Dubai I “climbed” across my neighbour. Next thing, I see the carpet in front of my nose. Stewardesses lifted me onto my neighbour’s seat (that was the only pleasant phase of the incident) and gave me oxygen. My total “downtime” was just about one or two minutes. A short while later another passenger collapsed in his seat. This time it took about 20 minutes to normalize him. – A stewardess told me that these incidents happen pretty regularly and she had this experience personally already a few times.

  8. Peter, I came across this interesting article and thought your readers might find it reassuring.

    Many people are worried about the risk of Covid spreading between passengers during a flight. I have seen comments from people who have cancelled holidays as they were not prepared to risk it.
    Research carried out in the USA has shown that the risk is incredibly low and that people should not worry.

    1. Thanks for this, Maurice. For unknown reasons, your contribution landed in the trash folder. It happens randomly every now and then, no clue why and WordPress does not have an answer. I happened across it just now, so I put it where it belongs. As links are always used in spam messages, contributions with a link always should land in my folder of comments to be moderated, so don’t be surprised that comments like that are not automatically published immediately. However, if that happens I receive a notification and I’ll let it go through at once. Not this time, strangely.

  9. Hi Peter,

    Absolutely love your final line in the PS:

    “It may turn out that your common sense will be the most important and the most powerful of all covid-19 measures.”

    Please may I steal this and use it elsewhere? I think it has a wide applicability in many places and circumstances. (I always quote good sources.)

    Thank you


    1. Yes of course you may, Steve. Anything that helps to helo the nasty virus being kept at bay. I would call that borrowing, not stealing

  10. Leerzame blog Peter, mondkapjes doen wij niet maar Amsterdam en Rotterdam willen dat wel zelf gaan doen. Ze zijn samen ook goed voor 50% van de dagelijkse besmettingen. We genieten weer van goed weer en hebben net Renske 3 dagen op bezoek gehad. Overigens vind ik dat wellicht de grootste waarde van de mondkapjes, dat men (vooral de jeugd) er daardoor aan herinnerd wordt dat het Coronatijd is. Geniet van de zomer en hartelijke groet uit Alkmaar.

    1. Wij vinden het niet zo vreemd dat in Nederland die aantallen besmettingen maar niet willen dalen. Nederland lijkt het goed te doen met gezond verstand, maar veel zaken zijn halfbakken en laten veel te veel ruimte voor discussie. Mondkapjes houden gewoon een deel van de nies-en-hoestdruppels tegen. Niet alles misschien, maar alles helpt. In Nederland hebben ze daar totaal irrilevante ideeën over. Maar als je zegt dat het (ook) helpt om de mensen bewuist te houden, dan heb je zeker gelijk. We genieten met volle teugen, hebben relatief weinig last van het virus en de consequenties en we denken dat al dat verzet tegen maatregelen vooral een ‘mindset’ is. Als je je bij de situatie neerlegt is het allemaal niet zo erg je aan de voorschriften te houden. lieve groet terug!

    1. no. Sitting in a car together does not require the use of a face mask. However, if you are picking up people from the airport who just arrived and have not yet received the results of their test, it is common sense to wear it anyway. Common sense is and remains the keyword here.

    1. It is indeed Maurice. Nobody likes wearing a mask, but nobody wants to be on a respirator either, I should think. We can do without all the drama. We have been making the most of this summer and frankly, it was great with some minor inconveniences.

  11. well wrote as usual but one wonders if some people do have common sense definitely plenty here in England have none or self respect.

    1. Thank you, Pauline. One wonders about people’s common sense indeed, but it is not an England-only problem. I know about groups of Dutch youths illegally partying and then cause 60 (!) new infections in one evening. I am sure that many, especially younger people behave very selfishly and want their old lives back and simply ignore everything. Of course, we all want our old lives back, but that is not going to happen all that soon, especially not if people keep putting themselves and others at risk.

  12. Ich hoffe, Deine Erklaerungen werden von ALLEN gelesen, VERSTANDEN und umgesetzt.
    Well done, Peter

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