Portugal is to resume admitting tourists from most European countries on Monday, the interior ministry said, following months of restrictions to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Travellers from European Union countries with coronavirus rates below 500 cases per 100,000 residents over a 14-day period can make "all types of visits to Portugal, including even non-essential visits," the ministry said in a statement.

Tourists from Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland are also allowed to start flying to Portugal.

Visitors will have to show proof of a negative test taken up to 72 hours before a flight and airlines will be fined between €500 and €2,000 for each passenger who boards without presenting proof of a negative test.

The ministry said restrictions, limited to essential trips, would be maintained for five EU countries - Cyprus, Croatia, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Sweden - plus Brazil, India and South Africa.

Yesterday, Portugal said it will allow holidaymakers from Britain to enter the country from Monday, prompting a sigh of relief from hotel owners already inundated with bookings after Britain's go-ahead for travel from that day.

Britain added Portugal, whose economy heavily depends on tourism, to a "green" list of foreign destinations a week ago, allowing Britons to travel there without needing to quarantine for Covid-19 when returning home.

European Union rules prohibit non-essential travel from outside the bloc, making Portugal's decision to allow in UK tourists an exception.

"We're very excited about this news. The repercussion of the decision is being felt by every type of hotel, from hostels to five-star," said Eliderico Viegas, head of the Algarve regional hotel association.

Airline EasyJet, which added around 100,000 extra seats for flights to Portugal over the summer, and British travel agency Thomas Cook, where bookings to Portugal tripled over the past week, also welcomed the news.

"We have hundreds of customers with their cases packed," a spokesperson for Thomas Cook said.

On Monday, EU leaders are due to discuss a proposal to ease travel restrictions for people from outside the bloc who were fully vaccinated or came from countries with low case numbers.


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Celebrations in Poland as terraces reopen

Champagne corks popped at the stroke of midnight in Poland as bars and restaurants in opened their outdoor terraces for the first time in over six months and many Poles went out to celebrate.

Bars and restaurants can now offer outdoor service, with indoor service due to reopen with limited capacity on 28 May. Since October, they have been able to serve only take-away food.

Additionally, Poles are no longer required to wear masks outside in places where they can observe social distancing.

"We've been closed for so long, over 200 days, and it was very stressful and exhausting for different reasons, we didn't know if we could survive at all," said Zuzia Mockallo, 34, co-owner of Bar Studio, located in the capital's landmark building, the Palace of Culture and Science.

"I really feel that the emotions are a bit comparable to the New Year, where everyone has huge expectations of the old year ending and a new opening ... We are very happy and a little excited, a little nervous, but very emotional."

New coronavirus cases in Poland dropped sharply during April and the government began easing restrictions this month.

Yesterday Poland had 3,288 new cases, compared to a high of 35,251 on 1 April.

Some 35.7% of adult Poles have received at least one dose of vaccine and 13.6% are fully vaccinated, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.