• David

Covid-19 Travel

(early thoughts for people considering a Lisbon break)

So, most messages we are getting are around what it’s like to be away in the current ‘situation’, so I thought a week one wrap up / covid travel piece might work out ok.

First thing to say is that experiences are going to differ and will obviously be very subjective based on your ‘starting position’ when it comes to thoughts and theories about he virus 🦠 This is in no way meant to be definitive, just our observations and opinions (before we get pelters for it 🤣)

As a bit of a preamble, I’ll give you the short version of where we were at before leaving. We’d been very respectful of government guidelines but haven’t always been agreed with their position. We took a lot of time to do as much research as possible, trying to avoid the government messaging, and instead, sticking to independent bodies, journals and prominent epidemiologists - we know the virus is a killer, and we know that Intensive care units & staff were under intense pressure, that's all clearly fact! But we also know that the ‘at risk’ group was quite specific so never believed that a blanket lockdown was the best course of action. This isn’t meant to be about what’s right and wrong, just to give you an idea of where our heads were at before we left...

The airport was spooky. We flew with BA and only self service was available for our bags. Obviously not a problem, and as there were no queues, we were in security within a couple of minutes. If there were 50 people on the whole floor including staff I'd be very surprised, it was eery to say the least.

Security seemed extreme, Hayley’s clear toiletry bag had to be broken out into 2 bags and it was a full shoes off affair! Again, the queues were tiny but the thoroughness of the searches meant that we were probably there for 20 mins. I didn't personally understand the benefit of increased security like that but there may well be a theory behind it, not sure? Anyways, I've had better and I've had worse, all very respectful and everyone was obviously gloved and masked.

Quiet airport with a closed Weatherspoons in the background
Ok, so how do you drink this thing?

Departures was very strange indeed. As we descended the escalator, all you could see were shutters down and whole sections of products swapped tightly in cling film, it was surreal. One solitary Pret, serving a 50% reduced offering, serviced the whole floor, as people shuffled around, nervously adjusting their masks and guiltily looking around every time they needed to sip their coffee ☕️ This was the first time we'd been in a situation where masks are compulsory since the beginning of lockdown and it's hard to work out what is and isn't acceptable. Can you eat? can you drink? what about your mask? We also saw a lot of 'nose out' action which is obviously defeating the object a little and some workers walking through that weren’t wearing masks at all!

We boarded row by row. First the back (30 down to 20 1 by 1), then the front and, weirdly, then the 10 roses in the middle (I’m sure there must be some science to it?). As we boarded we were greeted by masked cabin crew who looked desperately uncomfortable already 😅 This is probably a good point to say a BIG shout out to anyone that has to wear a mask to work! anything upwards of a few minutes starts to get uncomfortable, anyone wearing them for hours on end, wow, we solute you.

Masks on for the full plane

The big shocker was that there was no spacing! I would say there were only 5 empty seats on the plane ✈️ so people sat in full rows of 3. You’re encouraged to keep your mask on for the duration but it didn’t look like that was being ‘policed’. We figured that the middle seats would all be empty turning 3's into 2's with a gap in the middle but that didn't seem to be the case. I'm not sure how the budget airlines are going to tackle this but if guessing if BA are using all seats, they'll definitely be doing the same?

Security Lisbon side was a dream! Very quiet (looked like just 2 flights that hour) so we whizzed through passport, grabbed our bags within 15 minutes, and stood under a temp scanner on the way out to make sure there was no one with a fever leaving the airport. Very switched on and very efficient

Virtually empty Lisbon airport and NO taxi queue

As for being in the city itself, Lisbon is very clearly a city starving without tourism, the desperation is palpable as you stroll around. We’ve been greeted by super friendly faces everywhere we have been, and the conversations we’ve had in restaurants all went the same way - ‘we need people’ essentially. There haven't been any sideways glances, no frowns, no questioning attitudes towards why we're there... Just bundles of positive energy and a hope that more people will be following soon. 95% of shops are open, bars can open until 8pm and places serving food 11pm, so whilst it's probably not great for any 'lads on tour' it's ideal for a couple of oldies like us that seldom manage to stay out past 9:30pm

We’ve felt super safe here with the virus situation, they really have their shit dialled in. Masks are worn by all, hand sanitiser is compulsory for everyone entering shops, bars and restaurants and people are very aware of the social distancing practices. This 'normal' has existed for a while now so we're benefitting from stepping into a fairly well-oiled machine I guess?

Anyone that’s been will know how busy this area should be...

We are obviously very lucky, we are here for 5 weeks, and because of that, very prepared for lockdown if necessary, and keeping up to date with the rules and regs daily. The reports of 'outbreaks in Lisbon' are all a little OTT, there appears to be some isolated incidents in some outside of the city but inside the 'greater Lisbon' area basically, so whilst things have tightened up in some places, nothing much has changed here in the centre.

I guess our over-arching message is that that this city needs tourism to survive, and that's abundantly apparent from the beautiful welcomes we’ve had everywhere 🙏🏻 The numbers are very low here and as it stands, as long as you are prepared to abide by the rules, you’d be welcomed with open arms but, and it’s a big but, as we have seen in Leicester back home, things can change VERY quickly so whatever happens, you’ll need to be prepared to adapt.

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