Christmas is fast approaching, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to take your foot off the pedal quite yet: there’s a lot of changes happening in Spain this month that you need to know about!
From increased travel restrictions, Coronavirus booster vaccine updates, and the public holidays that you’ve got to look forward to.
Here’s everything you need to know about living in Spain in December 2021:
Public Holidays to Enjoy
December is a month loaded with public holidays in Spain. First you will enjoy Constitution Day on 6th December, followed by the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on 8th December. As these two days are so close together, many people in Spain take the whole week off to enjoy the festivities with their families. Whilst Christmas Day is also a public holiday in Spain, this year it falls on a Saturday so won’t result in a day off work.
The Introduction of Covid Health Passes
If you don’t already have a Covid Health Pass, then it’s looking increasingly likely that you will need to obtain one sooner rather than later. More and more Spanish regions are approving the introduction of Covid certificates to allow their citizens to access indoor hospitality establishments, health centres, and large gatherings, parties, and events. The Health Pass is currently only being used in six autonomous Spanish communities, but it is expected that it will be implemented in additional regions soon, and will become the norm across the country in time.
Infection Numbers Continue to Rise
On the subject of Coronavirus, the emergence of the new Omicron variant means that infection numbers are continuing to rise both across Spain and wider Europe. However, this variant doesn’t appear to be considered a variant of concern in Spain, and Spain’s Health Minister Carolina Daria has suggested that there won’t be lockdowns, limits on crowds, or other coronavirus restrictions reintroduced as a result.
Mask wearing in indoor locations, and measures to avoid being in large crowds could be considered, but the Spanish appetite for other restrictions has gone, and therefore these are unlikely to be reintroduced. Instead, the Spanish government hope to combat the rising infection risk by focusing on vaccination: ensuring the populous have both their primary and booster doses.
With the government focusing on vaccination as the route out of the crisis, December will see the first vaccinations of children under the age of 12 administered in Spain. Health Minister Carolina Darias has stated that in the second half of December, the first batch of vaccine designed for children aged between 5 and 11 will arrive on Spanish shores. This vaccination has not yet been approved for use by the Spanish health authorities, but it is likely that the approval for this programme will be forthcoming shortly.
For adults in Spain, the vaccination booster programme is already well underway. During December, Spanish residents in their sixties will be called forward to get their booster shot. Whether you will be contacted directly, or must book this yourself, depends on the approach taken by the health department in the region where you reside.
The Introduction of New International Travel Restrictions
Due to the emergence of the Omicron variant in South Africa, Spain has introduced a list of high-risk countries, mostly based in Southern Africa. These are Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Flights between Spain and these countries have been suspended: any travelers who do reach Spain from these nations will be required to present a Covid-19 test if they’re fully vaccinated and quarantine for ten days. We don’t currently know how long these measures will be in place for.
Other travel changes to be aware of are that from 1st December, unvaccinated UK tourists can no longer enter Spain. It used to be that these passengers could enter the country on presentation of a negative Covid test, but now only fully vaccinated travelers are welcome.
If you wish to travel from Spain to the UK then the rules have also changed slightly: you must take a PCR test on the second day after your arrival in the UK, and self-isolate until you have a negative result from this test.
Visit a Christmas Market
Whilst it may not be as famous for its Christmas markets as Germany or Holland, Spain has an abundance of wonderful Christmas markets well worth visiting this month. Whether you’re looking for crafts or food gifts, here is a breakdown of some of the best Christmas markets in Spain this year.
And if you’re hoping for a white Christmas this year then you might be in luck! Whilst Spain isn’t a country famed for its snow fall, there has already been snow in the country this year, with storm Arwen bringing snow, rainstorms, and freezing conditions. Whilst these conditions are set to continue for a little longer, who knows if they will last until Christmas.
New High Speed Rail Link Opens
After sixteen years of construction, on 21st December the high-speed rail link between Madrid and Galicia will finally be opened. The journey time will be cut from four hours to 2 hours and 15 minutes as a result, and the train can reach incredible speeds of up to 300 km/h.
Spain’s public rail provider Renfe has put thousands of €15 tickets on sale for the this highly-anticipated AVE route between the Spanish capital and the green northwestern region, so if you have upcoming travel plans then now is the time to secure your tickets.
New Car Device Needed
The Spanish government updated their Traffic Code in 2021, and one of the changes that came from this was the introduction of a new device in a vehicle’s emergency accessory kit. This is a la luz de emergencia V-16 (V-16 emergency light). It is a pocket-sized light which is meant to be kept in the glovebox of the vehicle and then placed on the roof of the car in the event of a break down or emergency. It is designed to replace the red warning triangle, allowing motorists to alert other drivers to their presence without the danger of getting out of their car and entering the road. Although these devices won’t be a legal requirement until January 2026, they are strongly recommended now, making it the ideal time to invest in one for your car.
A More Expensive Christmas
Whilst you might be dreaming of a white Christmas, what you’re likely to get is a more expensive Christmas. The price of food and toys have all increased in Spain this December, thanks to inflation, rising energy prices, and an acute driver shortage. You will find that the goods you are looking for are not only more costly, some toys and gifts will also be harder to find, as a result of shortages in the country.
As a result, Spaniards will spend 7 percent more on buying presents for their loved ones this Christmas, taking the total to an increased average of €258 per person.
Are you thinking of moving to Spain? Or looking for a holiday home so that you always have a place to stay when you visit over the Christmas period? Then why not get in touch with our locally based property experts, who are perfectly placed to help make you dream of Spanish home ownership a reality. We’re already excited to work with you!