Spain reopens to non-EU tourism with limited restrictions from June 1
TRAVEL can now restart to Spain – as from tomorrow (Monday, May 24), visitors from ‘safe’ non-EU countries will be permitted entry without restrictions or requirements other than, according to the latest tweet from the ministry for tourism, the passenger locator form.
These countries include the UK, USA, China, and Japan.
It does not necessarily mean British tourists will come flooding back imminently, though: The usual May half-term rush is probably unlikely, since the UK government still has Spain listed as ‘amber’, meaning travellers from the country or returning from holiday there will be required to quarantine for 10 days and have two PCR tests within that time, which must be negative.
Some discussion is underway in the UK as to whether parents can be fined if they keep their children off school for up to a week and a half after spending half-term in Spain – local authorities have said they will not be, as this would otherwise encourage parents to abandon quarantine and children to go straight back to class, although the British government insists ‘nobody’ should be travelling to an ‘amber’ country for ‘non-essential reasons’, including annual holidays, and that parents ‘have a responsibility to ensure children do not have to miss school through quarantining as a result of ‘avoidable circumstances’.
This is despite ongoing campaigning from Spain’s government, insisting nowhere in the country is now on ‘extreme risk’ levels, and in the overwhelming majority of ‘typical’ British annual holiday destination areas, the incidence of Covid is low or non-existent.
Also, all over-60s in Spain are now fully vaccinated, unless they have been unable to be through having tested positive when they were due for their jabs, or unless they chose not to do so.
Most regions are now starting on the over-50s, and the 40-plus age group is expected to be reached sometime in June.
From Tuesday, June 1 onwards, anyone from any country in the world will be able to travel to Spain for holidays or other ‘non-essential’ trips, but other than the EU Member States and those dubbed ‘safe’ countries such as the UK, they will either need to show they have been vaccinated or show a negative PCR test result taken not less than 72 hours before arrival.
As yet, it has not been clarified which vaccines are accepted as evidence of immunity, although the ones that have been in use to date in Europe – the Pfizer, Moderna, Janssen and AstraZeneca – are suitable.
Anyone from a different, third country who has had another type of vaccine should check foreign office information before booking.
July 7 – a Wednesday – will see the launch of the EU’s ‘Digital Covid Certificate’, or ‘Green Passport’, which remains controversial for various reasons but is also eagerly awaited as a way of kick-starting international tourism again.
Travellers can carry a physical copy or download it onto their mobile phones with a QR code to be scanned upon arrival, and it will allow citizens of EU countries to be able to travel without restrictions.
It is not yet clear whether it will also apply to non-EU citizens who are permanently resident in an EU country and have been vaccinated in that country.
The ‘Green Passport’ is issued by each Member State and must show that the holder has been vaccinated, or that they have had Covid recently enough to be immune but are no longer infectious, or that they have had a negative PCR or antigen test result.
Tests will not be free of charge, which is one of the issues creating controversy at present – a family of four with none of its members as yet vaccinated would face a minimum extra cost of up to €160 for four antigen tests, or as much as €1,000 for four PCRs, depending upon where they are travelling from.
One of Spain’s main consumer organisations, the OCU, warns that if PCR and antigen tests for travellers are not free of charge, it could involve discrimination against those who have not yet been inoculated; effectively, discrimination based upon age, given that the younger a person is, the less likely he or she is to have been called for the jab.
The ‘Green Passport’ is aimed at making travel and entry as hassle-free as possible and would work along similar lines to a vaccine passport for those countries in the tropics which require, for example, proof of a Yellow Fever immunisation before visitors are allowed in.
But it will not, as yet, be compulsory for travel, meaning the system will need some tweaking in order for it to work and prevent it from fizzling out altogether.
Finally, it has not yet been shown whether or not a person who has been vaccinated is able to pass on the SARS-CoV-2 virus if he or she catches it.
It is known, however, that although the vaccines do not prevent a person from catching Covid, they stop them from becoming ill with it or suffering any symptoms, as the antibodies generated in their system will kill it off.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) and European Medicines Agency (EMA) have said the vaccines currently in circulation are ‘highly effective’ against ‘all known strains of the virus, including the variant detected in India.
Published thinkspain.com 23 May 2021