Azores Islands, recently declared “Coronavirus Safest Destination” by European Best Destination Organisation, has declared no active cases as the islands prepare to welcome international visitors as of the 1st July.
- Active Cases: 0
- Confirmed cases: 146
- Recovered: 130
- Deaths: 16
Azores have announced that the islands are officially COVID-19 free having registered no active cases of the virus. Overall, the islands had recorded one hundred and forty-six (146) positive cases of COVID-19 - resulting in one hundred and thirty (130) recovered cases and sixteen (16) deaths.
Azores recently received the distinction of "Coronavirus Safest Destination" from the European Best Destination Organisation based on health security measures in the tourism sector and its related activities, as well as the low number of cases and security in the local health service.
The Azores are a perfect destination for travellers who have a preference for nature experiences and for products such as hiking, whale watching, local cuisine and valuing traditions.
Executive Director of the Azores Tourism Board, Luís Capdeville Botelho, said the following: “The Azores Islands are delighted to have been recognised by the European Best Destination Organisation as the safest place to travel in light of the pandemic and can today proudly declare the islands COVID-19 free, with no active cases reported. This pandemic has put life into perspective for us all, no matter where we live, which language we speak and what we believe in. It has taught us that nothing can be taken for granted and that it took us to pause as a human race in order to come through the dark times. From now on we are sure that people will cherish the safety of the Azores Islands, a destination which has always prided itself on its commitment to welcoming visitors with open arms, with their wellbeing at the forefront of our minds.
“We are immensely proud of the swift action taken by the Portuguese government, tourism industry and local establishments here on the islands to ensure that we can return to a state of normality, with the upmost safety measures in place to maintain this. The Azores islands is the perfect destination for travellers who have a preference for nature experiences and for products such as hiking, whale watching, local cuisine and historical traditions. The measures which continue to remain in place are designed to keep every single person who visits the island safe and well, with minimal impact to their experience. We thank everybody for their patience and cooperation to sit back, pause and reflect on the travels they could experience after the height of the pandemic – for that time is now, and we cannot wait to see you here once more.”
The main safety measures enforced on the Azores Islands:
- Mandatory use of a mask in public or private passenger transport, by air, sea or land;
- Mandatory compliance of physical distance, and respiratory etiquette defined by the regional health authority.
- Recommend the use of masks in all situations of displacement in public;
- Public places and transport, Restaurants & Hotels must comply with the rules of mask use, physical distance, and respiratory etiquette defined by the regional health authority.
All passengers that disembark at Azores airports, on the islands of São Miguel, Santa Maria, Terceira, Faial and Pico island, should fill in a declaration that must be completed and signed, where they can choose one of the following options upon arrival:
1st Option: Submit proof, on paper, of a document issued by a national or international laboratory, carried out by the RT-PCR methodology within 72 hours of the departure of the airport flight of origin. This must include where the passenger's identification is stated, the laboratory where it was performed, the date of the test and the negative result.
2nd Option: Perform the screening test for the SARS-CoV-2, supported by collecting biological samples on arrival. The Health authority professionals at the airport will collect biological samples to conduct the SARS-CoV-2 test. After that, the visitor must remain in prophylactic isolation at the unit booked for staying until notification of the results can be informed. On São Miguel and Terceira islands, the maximum waiting time is 12 hours. On Santa Maria, Faial and Pico Island, the maximum waiting time is 48 hours.
Regarding the first and second options, if a visitor is staying in the Azores for seven or more days, by the 6th day after the date of the SARS-CoV-2 screening test, the passenger must contact the health authority of the municipal area in which they are staying with a view to conducting a new SARS-CoV-2 screening test. This is usually completed via “drive in” regime, promoted by the local health authority. The costs of the tests made in the Azores will be supported by the Regional Government from the Azores and all children under the age of 12 years will not be exposed to biological collections.
3rd Option: Return to the destination of origin or travel to any destination outside the region, fulfilling prophylactic isolation until the time of the flight.
In cases where the SARS-CoV-2 virus test result is positive, the local health authority will determine and communicate the procedures to be followed.
If the passenger refuses to comply with all procedures, the local health authority may, within the scope of its competences, determine the performance of a mandatory quarantine for the period of time needed to obtain a screening test result for SARS-CoV-2 virus. If the passenger does not agree to complete a test – there will be a 14 day isolation period starting from their arrival in the region, in a hotel defined for this purpose, with the costs charged to passengers who do so.
Inter-Island Air Connections:
If the passenger intends to travel inter-islands, by air or sea, they are exempt from the prior authorization from the Regional Health Authority and must communicate this intention on arrival to the health authority. If a visitor has performed a SARS-CoV-2 screening test upon arrival in the Region, they are allowed to travel to another island should they have a negative result. On arrival to the final destination island, the passenger must contact the health authority for that municipal area on the 6th day, after the initial test, in order to conduct a new SARS-CoV-2 screening test.
Measures being carried out at Azores Airports:
- Reinforced cleaning with hospital-level disinfectants;
- On-going cleaning teams in various areas;
- Disinfection using advanced technology UV equipment;
- Increase of hand sanitizers at all points of the terminals;
- Signage and disclosure of the use of a mask on the terminal, Warning for the need for extra hygiene care and the need for physical distance; Installation of protection screens on service counters (acrylic and glass).
- Body temperature measurement camera system in coordination with health entities.
The Azores Airlines Group:
- June 15 - Resumption of Azores Airlines flights between Lisbon and Ponta Delgada, Lisbon and Terceira and Funchal and Ponta Delgada;
- June 22 - Return of air connections between Lisbon and Horta and Pico airports.
- July 1 - Air connections between Porto and Ponta Delgada, as well as international connections to Boston, Toronto, Praia (Cape Verde), and Frankfurt.