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Mask and Restaurant questions for upcoming trip

We are inching ever closer to our trip to Portugal- 13 days till we are on our way! I've been trying to diligently prepare and follow local news each day. I've got my test appointments set up before we leave, and tests via Delta airlines partner for the return. I'm going to purchase some self tests we can take during the trip for my own peace of mind. We also bought travel insurance that I suspect has limitations now that the US has a do not travel advisory in place. It seems like we issued a do not travel right at the peak of the Delta variant, if the numbers continue on their current pace in Portugal. We are feeling very comfortable with coming there based on all we are reading.

As I continue my trip preparations, I have a few practical questions for the locals on the ground there. I understand I will need to continue monitoring for changes but:

  1. I understand the rules about needing to wear a mask, but I would like some more specific details. Are N95 masks required in Portugal? Are disposable masks acceptable? How about reusable masks? I'd simply like to understand if there is rule on this on Portugal and prepare in case I should pick up some more masks before I come.

  2. As Americans, we are in a gap right now. Can't get the EU Covid Digital Health certificate, and that is all they talk about in the articles as they discuss some of the restaurant restrictions. I need some help understanding the restaurant restrictions. For example, what is the Time Out Market considered in Lisbon since it is a Food Hall? Is it a restaurant, a cafe?

  3. Is there a technical difference between a cafe and a restaurant? Am I just going to know from the outside? I'm trying to be thoughtful about what we will do on weekends IF we run into problems eating out because we can't get the Digital Health Certificate. From what I am reading in the news, a lot of restaurants won't even enforce it, but I am a planner so I want to be prepared. ;o)

Thank you so much for the locals in Portugal that monitor this and answer all our questions- it is truly appreciated!

Posted by
37 posts

Hi Amber...sounds like we will be there at the same time! We leave in 16 days. Not sure I can address all your questions, but I did order a bunch of KN95 masks (Powecom KN95-RSP-PWCM-MSK from are legit). I want to be super safe and I they have 95% efficacy vs. reusable cloth masks.

As far as restaurants, cafes, and food halls...I don't plan on eating inside anyway, so the testing will hopefully not even be an issue. For Time Out Market, I would imagine it's more like a store, but if I have to do a test on the spot to get in, then I will.

Interested in hearing what those on the ground have to say. Be safe, Amber, and have a great trip!


Posted by
993 posts

I will try to answer your questions but bear in mind new mandates and schedules for relaxing of rules were just announced yesterday! I’m on several lists to receive emails that further explain the new mandates, so might be able to clarify more in the next day or two.

First - there are zero rules for what type mask you wear other than in hospitals where they don’t allow cloth masks - at least in the private hospital here in Cascais. Any type mask will suffice and, if you run out while here, all farmácias sell them. I even saw a quiosque in the mall yesterday selling pretty color disposable masks!

Time Out Market is indoors (except for a few places that have limited outside seating), so masks are required. Virtually any time you are indoors, wear a mask. Restaurants, cafes and all stores, museums, etc. have the same mandates This includes all public transport, taxis, Uber, etc. As weekends are when the Portuguese people have big family lunches out, you should have zero problems eating out on the weekend other than possibly finding a table for Sunday lunch. Go around 12:30 to ensure a table without a reservation.

Without the EU Certificate, you will likely need to present a negative test - if you want to eat inside. Eating outside is fine without one and most places have outside seating. And, rarely does it rain at this time of the year, so that shouldn’t present much of an issue. There is also a need for negative tests to check into hotels, Airbnb’s, etc. This is where I’ve read some owners refusing to enforce the rule. Bring tests with you, especially if you plan to stay in a few places while here. I’ve read that farmácias are also selling the tests, but have no experience trying to buy one.

Also be aware masks are required outside unless you can stay six feet away from others. A lot of tourists have not been complying with this, which has frustrated expats and Portuguese people alike. We have lived through two extended lockdowns and have been very compliant with mandates for the most part, Tourists are needed for the economy but please wear your masks unless you are walking on a pretty deserted street.

All this said, I’m hoping you can take the restrictions in stride and enjoy this wonderful country! I will post clarifications once I receive more info - if anything I’ve written is incorrect.

Posted by
58 posts

Thank you so much for your insights kathrynj I definitely understand the rules are changing, and am also doing my best to follow along. And it really helps to understand that essentially when inside we should just always plan on masks. That is easy and straightforward. When outside, wear masks unless we aren’t around anyone. As I get all my last questions answered, I get more and more excited for this trip- can’t wait to see beautiful Portugal!

Posted by
245 posts

We are in Lisbon now on holiday. I have seen only a handful of people wearing N-95s. Masks of any type seem to be acceptable in public, and you will definitely need them for all transport, public and Uber, etc, as well as museums, monuments, grocery stores and shops. Our observations are that it’s not just tourists who balk at wearing masks. Looking at most 20-somethings with their masks worn as upper arm jewelry, I’d say it’s more a young-vs-old issue. Lots of people keep them at hand and only actually use them when required. We have found only some restaurants require proof of vaccination (carry a photo of your certificate, front and back) on your phone. They get it that Americans can’t get the EU digital proof. So far, the phone photo has been adequate for us. Expect to have your temp taken and to be regularly squirted with hand sanitizer at restaurants, museums and attractions. Attempts at social distancing are well respected and enforced at some museums and at Jeronimos today, but less so in other locations. Social distancing on the street, stores and grocery stores is up to you, and apparently not anyone else. I haven’t found eating indoors to be a problem, but we book at the unfashionably early time of 1830 -1900, and it’s pretty empty. Outside dining is available in some restaurants, but you may want to bring a sweater as it is breezy and cool many evenings. As for hotels, all we have stayed at or will stay at require negative tests at check in. Most of ours will test on site, but one requires the test be done in town prior to check-in. The Airbnbs do require tests, too, but accept the quick-results version available at pharmacies. All in all, I’d say the situation is no worse or better than in the US. Precautions, common sense and cheerful compliance will carry the day.

Posted by
58 posts

Thank you so much for the on the ground report- this was incredibly helpful!

Posted by
73 posts

As for hotels, all we have stayed at or will stay at require negative tests at check in.

And if you test positive, what happens next? No room at the inn for you?

Seems like a potential risk if you are checking in and out of several hotels on a trip, as opposed to staying at one hotel or airbnb for the duration of a trip.

Posted by
245 posts

The 'no room at the inn' question is a dilemma indeed. It seems that all of our hotels are wishing for/expecting a negative test result. None have given us a clear answer, but I haven't asked them all. Sleeping in our car? I hope not. If this happens, we won't have been the first to deal with this, nor the last. We'll deal with it when/if it happens. What I've learned from this experience is that you can't be in control of everything. Prepare but relax. And keep small change on you. Nothing worse than needing a toilet and having it denied because you lack the 20 cents needed. I owe a 'pay it forward' to someone this week!