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.
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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 madeirasafe.com 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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