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The summer looks safe with Madeira on the green list, and even amber countries being green for those vaccinated. Flights are filling up and so is Vila Porto Mare, which is has been over 95% full for the last 6 weeks and will be from now until the end of the year and beyond. It's been great to see all the members over the last few weeks and we can't wait to see the rest of you when you get here. We understand though, that a lot of you have concerns about what it will be like, both in travelling and when you are here. If you want to know what it’s been like recently 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.
And to try and help you feel comfortable and excited about your next stay, we have compiled a guide that hopefully answers the most popular and important questions you might have. 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.
This is the most common question so its best to go straight to this. However 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' wont 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 call 119 and ask for a copy. Members in Scotland can download a certificate from the NHSInform site. Welsh Members can call 0300 333 5667. Unfortunately at the time of writing there isn't a system in place for N. Irish guests, so whilst they might accept your paper card it's probably better to get a test.
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 test at the airport. However this will mean self isolating in your room until the result comes through.
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 wont install the app, but you can just use Safari to go to the webpage.
Again, please read the link as things change, but at time of writing, it says you need to have a test before departing Madeira, which can be either antigen or PCR. Antigen is quicker and cheaper and so would be the most common choice. If you didn't have a free test on arrival then you are entitled to a free test on departure, and this is booked through your Madeira Safe login. You can choose PCR or Antigen, if you choose PCR an appointment will be made at the hospital or at the airport which will cost you a lot in taxis. If you choose Antigen however, you get a code that you can use to get a free test in most chemists, the nearest is at Forum Shopping. This has to be booked 4 days before, but its so busy at the moment that if you want to do it in a chemist near to the hotel, sort it out on your first day or so.
You can also book a PCR or an antigen test here in the Vila Porto Mare at a cost of €105 for PCR and €20 for Antigen. This happens every afternoon in reception of The Residence, between 16:00 and 17:35 but you need to prebook it a few days before here or see Claudia in Porto Mare lower lobby 10.30 to 13.00 during the week. The rules state that this test can be any time within the 3 days before your flight. We recommend you do it two days before, so Saturday if you are flying Monday. That way you are fine even if your flight was delayed overnight.
As an Green List country, you do need to arrange PCR tests in the UK for or before your 2nd day. This can be often be arranged through your airline at a better price. Otherwise the UK Government Site lists approved providers. Prices vary hugely depending on whether you are comfortable with a home test kit. One Company, The Collinson Group can arrange the 'day 2 or before' test at the airport when you arrive back , if this is Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, East Midlands or Stansted. For Wales you can only use one company CTM and you have to use the government website to order. Scotland recommend the same company but also say you can choose from the English list. The direct link to CTM is this.
You still need to have the day 2 tests even if you have a vaccine.
You are entitled to a free test though Madeira Safe, but sometimes it can be difficult to book a slot in a nearby chemist. If you would rather pay €20 and have the antigen test in the hotel, you can book it here.Book Test
We thought we'd put the childrens' rules separate as for some of you its 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.
needs to be filled in less than 48 hours before. its not difficult but it does take time. When you finish it you can get a printed copy by choosing to email it straight to reception on firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 then say yes you were in an island, and type Madeira. Then you say no, you weren't on the mainland. If you do this, the form will show green at the end.
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.
What happens if we test positive in Madeira?
It has happened, but only so far 3 times, so 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 10 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. The courtesy bus isn't running yet, and the reception at The Residence is only open Mondays from 08.00-22.00. The rest of the week, reception services are being handled at the Porto Mare. Restaurant Med is closed but Alfama has a mixed Med/Alfama menu. All of the bars and other restaurants, spa, pools are open, it feels 'almost' normal.
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 Arrival and for Departures. if you make your own way please not that from 5 July the reception at The Residence will be open on Mondays for arrivals and departures.
What about the service from the Timeshare Department?
Some things have had to change but we hope we are giving the same service even if it's sometimes in different ways. Understandably there isn't a Morning Meeting on the Tuesday Morning, but we will give you all the info either by email or on this site. 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?
Yes, but you've missed the bad times of 6pm curfew! It's now curfew between 2am and 5am and bars and restaurants need to close at 1 am. Sadly i know a lot of you like hitting the nightclubs late on but this isn't possible at the moment.
What about Masks?
We are used to masks here as they were brought in last May, and its 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 law is you need to 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 above. 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.
Its 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 has been are fully vaccinated as the government prioritised those working in the travel industry.
Whats the weather like?
A lot better than where you are!