Portugal has announced that it will be lifting the checks at the border with Spain from May 1 when its state of emergency is downgraded.
Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa made the announcement on Thursday saying that the restrictions which have been in place since January 31, will be lifted due to the improved epidemiological situation.
During a news conference, Prime Minister Costa said: “This does not mean the country can consider the pandemic situation resolved."
"Nothing is guaranteed for the future, as this is a daily struggle."
Up until now, those crossing the border needed to provide justified reasons for doing so such as returning to their habitual residence in Spain, to study, cross-border work or for essential situations and force majeure.
It means that from Saturday, May 1, residents of both countries will be able to cross the 1,200 km border for non-essential reasons, although regional restrictions may still apply and should be checked prior to making any travel arrangements.
As well as the lifting of the border restrictions, the government also started to ease social restrictions in mid-May which has seen schools, cafes, restaurants, shops, museums and other venues reopen again under strict rules.
From Saturday, restaurants and cafes will be permitted to remain open until 10:30 pm.
Sporting events are also set to resume along with weddings and other social gatherings, although 50% capacity restrictions will still apply.
Portugal’s infection rate has fallen significantly in recent weeks with the country now considered as having the lowest number of infections in the EU with under 70 cases per 100,000. In comparison, Spain’s health authorities are currently reporting around 230 cases per 100,000 over the past 14 days.
On Thursday, the ministry published the most recent data showing that the total number of infections had now reached more than 3.5 million with further 137 more deaths reported bringing the total to 70,080.
The country’s vaccination program has gathered pace in recent weeks with the Ministry of Health reporting on Thursday that almost 16 million vaccine doses had now been administered with over 4.4 million having received both doses.
Spain’s national state of emergency is set to end on May 9, which will provide regional governments with autonomy over the implementation of any future restrictions that may be required.
Regional governments will no longer be protected by a legal framework, but will still be able to introduce restrictions to control transmissible diseases under the 1986 public health law.