The use of face masks in public spaces will be mandatory in Madeira from Saturday as more flights are added to the Portuguese island.

Madeira has only nine active recorded cases of Covid-19 after a month to re-opening to tourists, “continuing to be one of the safest destinations in Europe,” according to the Madeira Promotion Bureau.

Only 90 cases of the virus were registered before the sector re-opened on July 1, and there are now 106 cases, of which nine are active.

Madeira and the Azores were exempted from Foreign Office advice against all non-essential international travel from July 4.

However, the requirement to self-isolate on return to the UK from Portugal, including Madeira and the Azores, remains in place.

Travellers to the islands must take a Covid-19 test before travel or on arrival.

The new rule for the use of masks in public outdoor spaces from August 1 is accompanied by several exemptions “so that comfort and enjoyment of outdoor spaces for leisure and exercise is not compromised”.

It is not mandatory to use masks for:

  • Children up to 10 years old
  • People with special needs or disabilities
  • Practicing sports
  • Beaches, bathing areas and complexes, except for sanitary facilities where the use of a mask is mandatory
  • physical activity and/or leisure that involves physical effort.
  • recreational and sporting activities in the forest and recommended walking routes.

“All leisure activities in which a level of physical effort is required are considered as exceptions to the rule of wearing a mask if social distancing is maintained,” the Bureau said.

“It is clear, therefore, that the majority of tourist related activities, such as walking along the levadas, visiting the beach or swimming pool, as well as the practice of sports such as running, surfing and golf, among many others, are situations in which locals and visitors can continue to enjoy the outdoors, as they have up to now.

“The well-being and protection of citizens and tourists visiting the archipelago of Madeira continues to be the priority. There has been a strong consensus between tourism and health organisations on this since the start of the pandemic, given the difficulty of the international situation.”

Madeira Promotion Bureau executive director Nuno Vale said: “Security inevitably continues to be at the top of the concerns of citizens, but also tourists, which is why it is a priority to keep cases to a minimum and ensure freedom to live and enjoy the islands of Madeira and Porto Santo.

“It has been a joint political effort and exemplary citizenship that has ensured the exceptional control of the pandemic in the region, but also allowing for a safe tourist experience of the archipelago is key in the destination’s response.”