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Covid Q & A

What you are all asking

Covid Q & A Updated 24 January 2022

As the Proclaimers would have sang, day 2 tests no more.... Well from the 11th February for vaccinated travellers. And for those unvaccinated, only a day 2 test, no more day 8 tests. Shares in Randox must be plummeting.

 

N.B. A few members have been confused by reading about mandatory PCR tests for entering Portugal, that is only for mainland Portugal, not Madeira. 

 

Below is a guide to what you need to do before you get here, and before you return. The main thing we want to tell you is...it will all be fine. We have been busy all summer and it's been so great to see happy guests, every day almost, someone will say 'I know it sounds daft but this has been the best holiday ever...'  If you want to know what it’s been like for arrivals then look here where a few of our members have emailed their thoughts and experiences about what its been like, including Paul Child, our Members representative.

 

Apologies to our non UK members, most of this information will be just as relevant for you, but we have owners from over 20 different countries so its impossible for us to know all the ins and outs for every country. However the ever helpful EU have compiled a website and an app called Reopen EU which links to all the official information from each country in an easy to use way. 

 

Top Tips

  • If you don't have a smart phone or tablet, then get one. You will need it to be able to access Madeira Safe, complete your PLF and show all your test information. 

 

 

  • If you only have one email address for the family, you can do everything okay, but it might be easier to set up one for each person. It is easy to do on Gmail or Outlook and it makes it simpler and quicker to find your details. 

 

 

  • Coming to Madeira, take a screen shot of important information including your Madeira Safe QR codes as the 4G and Wifi signals are rubbish in the arrivals area so this will be quicker and that’s all they need to see.  And don't panic if you upload your tests or vaccines and they don't say approved, it happens most of the time. It might change when you land and if it doesn't the staff will fix it in seconds.

 

 

  • Make sure you are buying the right tests. You cannot use NHS free tests. Your Day 2 (or before)  tests need to be specifically that. You will know you have bought the correct type if you get a 12 digit reference, something like RANDX1234567.

 

 

  • If you are worried about completing your PLF, enlist help, and I don't just mean asking us. It doesn't have to be you that completes it, you can rope in a child or grandchild to do it even if they are back in rainy Manchester. Just give them all your details and they can do it anytime in the 48 hours before your arrival and then email them directly to the hotel (portomare@portobay.pt)  to print for you.

 

  • On the way back, print everything, its so much quicker. You want to have your PLF and test results in your hand.

 

  • A new one to us, and its already happened twice! If due to an unknown reason, and we aren't remotely suggesting that you did anything wrong, if it won't let you create an account because it says your passport number is already in use, stick GB before your number and it will be fine.

Coming to Madeira...(for those vaccinated)

This is what you need to do on the way here. As long as you get this bit done, we are here in resort to help you with getting home. As with everything during covid, this is information that has changed at various times, so it's important that you look at the correct sites before your travel and we have given you the links here. I am afraid 'John said we didn't need this' won't cut it at UK Border Control.

 

Flying from the UK to Madeira, you need to follow the guidelines of the Madeiran Government and their site Madeira Safe to Discover is regularly updated. If they say different from here, they are correct, not us.  

 

In the site it explains that you do not need to take a test if you have proof of vaccination, or have recovered within the last 180 days, as long as you have a certificate showing this. You can now show proof of vaccine using the NHS app if you live in England or Wales. Members in Scotland can download a certificate from the NHSInform site. Guests in N.Ireland can get their app here.

 

Before you fly, you also need to register on the the Madeira Safe site. Also download the app from the Apple Store or Google Play Store on your smart phone. If you have an old iphone 6 it won't install the app, but you can just use Safari to go to the webpage. Once you have set up the account you can upload your certificates, and once you have done that your QR code will change to reflect that you either have to join the light green line or the dark green line on arrival.

 

Please don't worry at all about whether your vaccination certificates get approved. It is completely random. A third of members say their certificates are approved almost immediately, a third say it's only approved when you turn your phone on when you arrive, and a third it doesn't change. All that's different is if it's not approved when you arrive, some Madeiran teenagers come up and down the queue scanning the QR code with their ipads and approving them. Take a screenshot of it the day before you fly and it will be in your photos.

 

And that's it!! You arrive, the sun is shining, your transport is waiting and you can start your holiday. ..

 

When here in Madeira

New Covid rules came in as of 27 November, however they haven't had much of an effect in practice.  Basically the government has said that they recommend the following.

 Businesses who should ask for Vaccination OR antigen test – Supermarkets, Shopping Centres, Chemists, Medical facilities, Post office, Petrol Stations and Public Transport

 Businesses who should ask for Vaccination AND Antigen Test – Bars, Restaurants, Cinemas, Cultural Events, gyms, Sports events, nightclubs, casino, hairdressers

 

Virtually nowhere is now asking to see anything, they all have signs up saying what you should have, but even the few restaurants who started asking have now stopped. The only place we know of that is asking is to get into the little drinks area between Ritz and Golden Gate with the huts selling poncha. 

 

You are entitled to a free weekly test in either at one of the Covid testing tents, local chemist or clinics. You do not need to make an appointment at the local tents but will need to make an appointment at the local chemist or clinic (our colleague Cindy can assist with this).  You will need to present your passport when going for your weekly test.  A lot of members have complimented going to the HPA Private Hospital. Okay its around €5 each way in a taxi but its much quicker.

Returning to the UK if you are vaccinated

Here are the official government guidelines for flying home to  England,  Scotland, Wales  or N Ireland.  

 

At the moment you do not need to test before leaving Madeira. 

 

 

If you are returning before 11th February, you also need to arrange for tests in the UK for (or before) your 2nd day. As of Sunday 9th January, this can be antigen or PCR.  This can often be arranged through your airline at a better price. Otherwise the UK Government Site lists approved providers.  Randox are the biggest company (put in the code easyjet2021 even if you aren't flying with Easyjet) but there are many others. 

 

 

And if you are not vaccinated...

You do have more hoops to jump through than a vaccinated person, although it is getting easier. Technically restaurants should be asking to see vaccination papers plus antigen tests but no one is asking that we are aware of. That could change though even during your stay.

 

Coming out, you do need to test before you fly.  If you do need to test,  it is advisable that you organise a PCR test in the UK. This can often be arranged through your airline, or through for example Boots. If you arrive in Madeira without a negative PCR test, then you can take a free PCR test at the airport. However this will mean self isolating in your room until the result comes through. As of 1 November this requirement will reduce to Antigen but it still hasn't been decided if the airport will offer these free or charge for it. 

 

You also need to take a test before leaving Madeira,  and this can be booked through your Madeira Safe login to get tested for free in the chemist, or you can pay €20 for antigen or €105 for PCR to be tested in the hotel, and you book it here.

 

Finally, you need to book uk tests for both day 2 and day 8 (only if returning before 11th February) and self isolate for 10 days when you get back. 

Rules for Children

We thought we'd put the childrens' rules separate as for some of you it's the most important question and it can be confusing flicking between the different sites.

 

COMING INTO MADEIRA


For Madeira Safe, kids up to 11 get included on their parents application, and are exempt from testing, unless the parents test positive. From 12 they need to have a separate Madeira Safe login and have to follow the testing rules. This does mean that often the parents are exempt due to vaccinations but the children need to be tested, and in this case we do recommend you pay for a test in the UK. If you rely on the free test at the airport then the child would need to self isolate on the first evening, which is a bit cruel if everyone else hits Leenos. 

 

RETURNING TO THE UK

According to the UK Gov site, children aged 10 and under are exempt from the the pre departure test. However Only children aged 4 and under are exempt from the Day 2 test.  According to Grant Schapps under 18s who aren't vaccinated are treated as vaccinated adults.

Passenger Locator forms

The Online Passenger Locator Form

needs to be filled in less than 48 hours before. it's not difficult but it does take 5-10 minutes.  When you finish it you can get a printed copy by choosing to email it straight to reception on portomare@portobay.pt or email it to the timeshare office on tsadmin@portobay.pt.  Remember if you are worried about doing this, then a friend or family member can easily do it from the UK and email it straight to reception to print. All they need are your names, passport details, DOB, flight details, reference for day 2 tests. 

 

Do not bother to set up an account unless you have lots of flying in the next few months. It's much quicker not to.

 

One common mistake is when you get to the section about where you have been. To the first question, you say Portugal. You later say yes you were in an island, and type Madeira. Then you say no, you weren't on the mainland. 


With the new changes to the rules, it is important that you can show your vaccination status. However if you cannot get the PLF to recognise your Certificate, don't worry nor can we. If you answer no to the questions about having a QR code it tells you its fine to say no and take a paper copy to the airport to show.

 

 

 

 

Will our insurance be valid and can we be insured for covid related costs?

Even when Madeira was temporarily on the Amber list, almost all UK insurances were still valid, and this would be the case even if the status changed between now and you flying. The reason is that insurances normally specify they are invalid if the FCDO advises against all but essential travel. If there is no advice against this, then you are legally allowed to travel and would be insured, no matter whether Madeira was on the Green or Amber list. 

 

The Madeiran Government advertises an Insurance in partnership with a Portuguese insurance company. This includes all the normal protection you would expect from Holiday insurance and also covers for any expenses and assistance needed due to Covid, including cancelled flights. They advertise the cost as being from €25.50, and you can find the details here.

Other Questions

What happens if we test positive in Madeira?

 

It has happened, but it is very rare, and if you are testing before you come with NHS tests and know you have come without it then your chances of catching it here are far less than in the UK. However if it did, then the government pay for you to stay for 5 days in a hotel, sadly not us as we haven't got space. At the moment its Casino Studios, and they provide free food, and you can also order from any of the delivery companies at your own cost if you prefer.

 

Are you open as normal?

 

Yes, not only are we open but we are basically full and have been since late July. Lots of happy members having a great safe relaxed time. And we have actually been open right through since July 2020. It was a bit quiet admittedly December and April, but we  had around a dozen sets of hardy members who were here right through from November to April and sometimes longer! Here you can find their stories. We had also arrivals from Switzerland, Germany, Czech Republic among others during the winter and its been great to see everyone. In terms of facilities, most things are open as normal apart from the courtesy bus which isn't running yet.

 

How is travel through the airport?

 

Every week we hear from members how smooth and relaxed it has been to arrive at Funchal. It can take a bit longer,  but a lot of members have commented at how friendly and welcoming the airport staff have been, and even members who have failed to complete the Madeira Safe details have had everything sorted within minutes by the great team at the airport.

 

 If you want a celebrity's opinion, see Alison Hammond's 'This Morning' video in our News Section, and take her advice on taking a screen shot of your QR code as it'll save you from stressing. We can still provide airport transfers, and there are forms in the Info Section, both for arrivals and for departures. 

 

What about the service from the Timeshare Department?

 

Pretty normal apart from the masks!  The office is open from 10.00 to approx 16.00 Sunday to Friday so please pop in and see us, we are always happy to see you.

 

Is it true there are curfews?

 

Sorry you just missed them. Hurrah the night clubs are open too, but make sure you take your vaccination certificates to get in. You've missed the bad times of 6pm curfew earlier in the year. Don't feel sorry for us, everyone just went out for lunch and wine every day! 

 

What about Masks?

 

We are used to masks here as they were brought in last May, and it's pretty common sense. You need to wear a mask indoors. We don't mean in your apartment, but in the corridors, reception etc...You do not need to wear one when sunbathing or swimming, no matter what the British tabloids claim.

In shops and shopping centres, on buses, you need to wear a mask. When walking into a restaurant you need to put it on but can take it off when you sit down. In the street though, the guideline is that you should wear a mask when you are unable to practice social distancing. This means you normally won't be wearing one but when its busy, for example in the town centre, you should pop it on.

 

Are things in Funchal open as they were?

 

Around The Residence, nothing much has changed. In terms of restaurants, only Bela Isla closed, and The Brasserie and Trinca Espinhas both had to close due to the refurbishment of the hotel attached. Everything else is pretty much as it was the last time you were here. In town and in the Old Town, there have been a few more casualties as the lack of cruise ships, far less tourists has had an effect but most restaurants have reeopened.

 

 

It's not just us that are busy, we recommend you book restaurants as they are mostly full every night. Also, there is a staff shortage issue in Madeira (long story) so service in hotels and restaurants and bars can be a little bit slower so be patient.

 

 

What about the staff at Porto Bay?

 

Pretty much all of us are okay, thank you for asking :)  Almost all staff are back to full time working and all your favourites are still here, and almost all of the staff have been fully vaccinated as the government prioritised those working in the travel industry. Some staff have moved around a little so if your favourite member of staff is missing then they are probably elsewhere, for example Pedro from reception is now at Porto Santa Maria.

 

Whats the weather like?

 

Well its January and its been 26 degrees at times. 

 

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