Portugal: Hotels association hails ‘excellent’ move to ease Covid restrictions

The Portuguese Hotel Association (AHP) on Monday hailed the government’s plan for easing coronavirus restrictions, whose first phase took effect on Sunday, as “an excellent advance for the beginning of the normalisation of the sector,” especially because the next two phases have also been sketched out.

In a statement, the AHP “also applauds the extension of the Support for Gradual Recovery (ARP) until the normalisation of activity, [which is] still awaiting implementation”.

However, the AHP stressed that it is also still awaiting a response from the government on an issue that they consider to be fundamental, which is whether and when vaccination certificates may be accepted that have been issued by non-European Union countries.

“The AHP has been stressing for some time that it is fundamental to accept digital vaccination certificates from the US, Canada, Israel and the Schengen area, given the importance of these markets to our country,” the statement reads, stressing the “state of vaccination in which they find themselves.”

At present only the vaccination certificates issued by Switzerland and the UK are recognised in Portugal.

The AHP’s president, Raul Martins, is quoted in the statement as saying that the association knows that “this decision does not depend solely on the Portuguese government, as at a European level the rule of reciprocity in recognition is enshrined. 

“However, because this rule is being extremely prejudicial to us and is delaying economic recovery, it is up to Portugal to put pressure on [from] its side and even to take a position of opening the way and deciding for itself,” Martins went on, noting that “this is what several European countries are doing!”.

At the same time, the AHP also stresses that it has been waiting for more than two weeks for a decision from the government regarding stays by airline crews in hotels to resolve what is says is a legislative contradiction that needs to be clarified. 

Martins stresses that “this is exclusively a matter for the Portuguese government,” arguing that “it is absurd that crews who stay in hotels have to be tested, contrary to what is foreseen for air transport, which exempts crews from this obligation.” 

This has, he states, “led to great difficulties and stress in the hotels where they stay.”

In short, however, Martins concludes, “we were pleased to see the decision to gradually lift the restrictions” imposed to stem the spread of the virus.

“For tourism to exist it is necessary that everything returns to a ‘certain normality’ and that means openness to our issuing markets, coherence and stability in procedures,” he said, while stressing the need for the extension of the ARP to be confirmed, and other measures that are still missing but which are fundamental.