Will Rising Covid Cases Affect Travel to Spain This Christmas?

Christmas is fast approaching, which means that many of us have already started making our Christmas travel plans. Whether you’re living in Spain and hoping to return to the UK, or living in the UK and hoping spend the holiday season in Spain, the rising Covid case numbers in Europe might have you feeling concerned about whether your trip will go ahead. Whilst Europe is experiencing a surge of covid cases, the good news is that this surge is much smaller in Spain that it is elsewhere in the EU. Which leads to the question, will there be increased travel restrictions to and from Spain this winter? Will the borders be forced to close again? Here’s everything we know so far:

What Are the Rules if You’re Travelling to Spain from Inside the EU/Schengen Zone?

If you’re travelling to Spain from a country that is inside the EU/Schengen zone then the current travel rules are that you must be fully vaccinated and able to demonstrate your vaccination with a Covid health pass that has been issued by your home country. Fully vaccinated is classed as having received two doses of an approved vaccine more than 14 days before your journey.

If you are unvaccinated, you can still travel, but you need to take either a PCR or antigen test 48 hours before you travel (the test you will need will depend on whether your country is considered high risk by Spain’s Health Ministry: the list of high-risk countries changes every week, so you should check this before you travel).

If you’re travelling from Spain to another country that is either in the EU or inside the Schengen Zone then you should check the rules for the country you plan to visit before you travel. However, as a general rule, the rules are near-identical across the bloc, meaning the rules outlined above will apply. You will be required to prove their vaccination, recovery, or a negative test through a digital covid certificate.

Are These Rules Likely to Change?

We do know that in several European countries, covid case numbers are rising incredibly rapidly. Countries such as Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands have begun reintroducing coronavirus restrictions as a result of these increased case numbers: in these countries, the case numbers are at their highest recorded levels.

In response to these increased case numbers many EU governments have focused on, and emphasized, the importance of ensuring their citizens are vaccinated. They are also introducing restrictions to prevent those infected with the virus from spreading it further, such as curfews or work from home measures. 

You can expect to face these domestic restrictions when you travel to some EU countries (restaurants in the Netherlands will be closing at 8pm, for example) and you may even find that when you arrive in your destination EU country that large venues and events are cancelled or postponed. But it is unlikely that you will be prevented from travelling. Spain has a high vaccination rate and a relatively low infection rate, meaning that the country is still very much open for business to tourists from within the EU.

What Are the Rules if You’re Travelling to Spain from the UK?

In a very recent update, the Spanish government have opted to ban all unvaccinated British tourists from entering the country. This rule will come into force on Wednesday 1st December, and will apply to all tourists over the age of 12 years old. Until 1st December, visitors from the UK entering Spain simply needed to present either a negative COVID-19 NAAT test (PCR) taken within 72 hours of travel or proof of full vaccination with EMA or WHO approved vaccines.

The UK Government update said: “The Spanish Government requires all arrivals to Spain from the UK (excluding children under the age of 12 years old) to present on entry proof of being fully vaccinated.”

The Spanish government class fully vaccinated as having received two doses of a recognised coronavirus vaccination. This will be difficult for families with children aged between 12-18, as at this point this cohort have only been offered a single dose of the coronavirus vaccine by the British government.

And if you want to travel from Spain to the UK? Spain is not on the UK’s red list, so if you are fully vaccinated you are welcome to visit the UK: you will simply need to take a covid test within two days of your arrival in the country. If you aren’t fully vaccinated then when you arrive into the UK from Spain you will have to take a covid test as well as go into quarantine: the rules for arriving in the UK are complicated, so it’s well worth researching these before you make your travel plans.

Are These Rules Likely to Change?

Both the UK and the Spanish governments currently have no plans to implement any additional new travel restrictions before Christmas. The way the UK will react is a little more unpredictable: the British government have been consistently unpredictable in their responses throughout the crisis!

During a press conference held in London last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said “I’m seeing the storm clouds gathering over parts of the European continent. And I’ve got to be absolutely frank with people: we’ve been here before. We remember what happens when the wave starts rolling in.” What we don’t know yet is how this rhetoric will translate into travel restrictions, or not. The UK’s travel rules have not always been driven by logic or by corresponding Covid case numbers.

Travelling to Spain from Outside the EU

Finally, if you’re travelling from a third country then you can visit Spain, provided you are fully vaccinated, and can prove it with a recognised vaccination certificate issued in your home country. If you aren’t fully vaccinated, however, you’re unlikely to be allowed to visit Spain. Non-essential travel is not permitted to most third countries. The exceptions to this rule are Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Jordan, Kuwait, Namibia, New Zealand, Peru, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay and China. Visitors from these countries are allowed to visit Spain, provided they have proof of a negative test.

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