Australian Embassy Lisbon
17 April 2020
Dear fellow Australians
My team and I hope you and your families are keeping safe and healthy.
Thank you for sending us your details so we can remain in contact throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We have created this newsletter as an extra way to share information on the current situation in Portugal and keep you updated on the Australian Government’s support and travel advice. If you know other Aussies in Portugal, please encourage them to send us their details.
Returning to Australia
I continue to ask tourists and short-term travellers to make immediate arrangements to go home to Australia, now. Commercial operations are still available and the Australian Government has no plans to offer free or assisted repatriations. None of us knows how long the state of emergency and lockdown will be in place. And none of us knows whether flights out of Portugal will continue to operate. This week, we heard senior Ministers in Australia say publicly that Australians might not be permitted to travel abroad before the end of the year - after Christmas.
Even if you have lived in Portugal for some time, please think carefully about how you would cope if a lockdown continues for many months, or leads to a long economic downturn.
Did you know? More than 280,000 Aussies worldwide have returned home since 13 March.
Call or email us if you need help or are struggling to get home.
Flights to Australia
We understand the cost and frustration in confirming flights to return home. Unfortunately, the global pandemic has changed conditions for airlines and crews and prices are higher. We are seeing flights out of Portugal becoming more and more reduced, so if you are still looking to return home, please try to secure flights as soon as possible.
Currently the following airlines are running scheduled flights from London to Australia: Qantas, Qatar Air, ANA and United Airlines. British Airways are flying between Lisbon and London.
The Australian Government also continues to work with Qantas and Virgin Australia to keep flights running from key hubs, including London. These flights are operating on a commercial basis.
Only Australian citizens, residents and immediate family members can travel to Australia. If your immediate family member is not an Australian citizen or permanent resident, please contact us about seeking approval for them to enter Australia.
Arriving in Australia
A reminder that anyone arriving in Australia will be required to undertake a mandatory 14-day quarantine at designated facilities in their port of arrival. Travellers will be provided with suitable accommodation during this period and will not be permitted to travel domestically (including to their home) or continue on domestic connections until the 14-day quarantine has been completed.
Remaining in Portugal
If you reside permanently in Portugal or need to remain here until you are able to secure flights, we urge you to follow the directions and advice of the Portuguese Government and take all the necessary precautions to minimise the risk of exposure given the current unpredictable status of COVID-19. Monitor the media and local Government websites frequently for current information.
The Embassy Facebook Page and website also provide updates, including translating key messages from Portuguese. Our Embassy continues to be open and operational, offering passport renewal and notarial duties for Australians who urgently require these services.
Many of you have been living in Portugal for years or even decades, but we know Australia might feel further away than usual during this pandemic and the global travel restrictions. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for support even if you are well established here. If you’re doing well or have a suggestion for our next newsletter, we’d also love to know.
Marking ANZAC Day as a community
Many of you have asked about ANZAC Day commemorations. This year we will not be able to host an event. I will lay a wreath at the Monument to WWI Veterans on Av. da Liberdade, and I would love to include a note or picture on what ANZAC Day means to you. If you would like to be involved, please email [email protected] by 22 April with a short message – for example, sharing what the day means to you, how you plan to mark it at home, a note or photo about an ANZAC veteran in the family, or a child’s drawing. We will include your messages on our wreath and share some of them on our Facebook page.
I hope to hear from many of you – please help us try to make this ANZAC Day a special one.
What have we been up to?
During the past fortnight, we have been actively providing assistance and guidance to Australians in unusual and difficult circumstances. We have spoken to many of you by phone. We have assisted Australians having difficulty because of the closed borders and reduced flight operations. This included the islands of the Azores, where we liaised with tourism and health officials to ensure Australians cleared necessary quarantine measures so they could depart the islands.
We helped Australians who arrived by sea at different ports throughout Portugal, as tourists or crew on cruise ships or via other vessels, liaising with Portuguese health authorities and other entities, to ensure their safe disembarkation and transfer to departing airports.
Our Embassy provides assistance to Australians in Portugal, Cabo Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe, and Guinea Bissau. Our services cover a large territory and our relationships with local authorities often allow us to find solutions for Australians who are facing hardship or need to get home urgently.
With warm regards, remember the Embassy is here if you need us.
Ambassador Claire Rochecouste and team