Spain’s former PM Mariano Rajoy caught ‘taking a stroll’ during coronavirus lockdown

It is something that all Spaniards, who have now been confined to their homes for over a month, are dreaming about; taking a casual stroll in the spring sunshine.

Spain’s former PM Mariano Rajoy caught ‘taking a stroll’ during coronavirus lockdown
Archive photo from 2014 showing Mariano Rajoy on a walk in the woods. Photo: AFP

But under strict lockdown measures imposed across Spain since March 14th in a bid to control the spread of the coronavirus, most responsible citizens understand that such a simple thing is forbidden for their own good, for the health service and to protect the most vulnerable in society.

So it has caused not a little anger to see images of Spain’s former Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, going for a walk on the empty streets of the capital.

Footage of the former conservative party leader, who was prime minister from 2013 until he was ousted by Socialist Pedro Sanchez last year after the PP became engulfed in a corruption scandal, breaching confinement rules were broadcast on La Sexta on Tuesday.

Although it is permissible to  leave the house under certain circumstances – to buy essentials, visit the doctor, walk the dog or take out the trash, Rajoy appears to be doing none of those tasks but simply stretching his legs.

Dressed in tracksuit and trainers, the former PM has reportedly been seen outside exercising on a regular basis by neighbours, a banned activity that could see normal citizens fined between €100 and €600. Penalties go up to €30,000 or even a jail sentence for more serious infringements.

On Wednesday Spain’s Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said authorities were considering opening an investigation after seeing the footage.

 “The rule will be applied in the normal way,” said Mr Grande-Marlaska in a press conference. “A person’s name has no bearing on the application of the law.”

However, a spokesman for the PP defended the party’s former leader. Cuca Gamarra, secretary of social policy insisted “Rajoy’s privacy should be respected” and instead asked the government to “focus on what is important in this health crisis”

There is increasing pressure for Spain to lift restrictions of lockdown to people and especially children, who have been cooped up inside since March 14, to leave the house and exercise in the outdoors.

According to the latest data from the interior ministry, more than 650,000 penalties have been issued for breaching lockdown.


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FACT CHECK: Do you still need Covid documents to travel to Spain?

There has been some confusion in the Spanish and English-language press following the announcement this week that Spain has scrapped its Covid health travel form. Here’s what Brits, Americans and other international travellers need to know about Spain’s existing travel restrictions. 

FACT CHECK: Do you still need Covid documents to travel to Spain?

(Scroll down to the bottom if you want the quick answer).

In recent days, Spanish authorities have made two important announcements regarding the country’s Covid-19 entry rules for foreigners. 

Firstly, Spain extended until November 15th the requirement that non-EU visitors must show a Covid-19 vaccination, test or recovery certificate to enter the country. 

A few days later, the Spanish government announced it would no longer require any international travellers to fill in and show its SpTH health control form.

For those who are unfamiliar with Spain’s complex Covid travel rules, the two changes seemed to contradict each other, or suggest that Spain had U-turned on its decision. 

Indeed, UK newspapers such as The Independent wrongly ran with “Spain finally drops all Covid travel restrictions”, a headline it has since amended. 

Even Spain’s national broadcaster RTVE stated that Spain had ditched the Covid passport requirement.

Both these statements are incorrect.

To clarify, a Covid-19 certificate or passport is one document, and Spain’s health control form is another; they are not the same. 

A Covid-19 certificate is issued by authorities in the country where you were vaccinated or tested, whereas the SpTH form was issued by Spanish authorities.

In any case, the SpTH health control form is now officially not required and will not have to be completed by any international traveller arriving in Spain by air or sea.

The discontinuation of this travel form means that non-EU tourists such as Americans, Australians and Canadians and all other non-EU travellers no longer have to complete this step before arrival in Spain.

For British tourists visiting Spain nothing changes in this regard as the UK has long been on the list of 48 non-EU countries with a certificate equivalency deal with the EU, which exempted their nationals from having to fill in Spain’s health control form. 

Now for the other important matter. 

Non-EU tourists visiting Spain still need to show proof of vaccination, testing or recovery to visit Spain. 

It applies to all non-EU travellers over the age of 12, but it does not apply to EU citizens or third-country nationals who reside in the EU.

This long-standing Covid travel rule remains in place until at least November 15th 2022.

There was no U-turn in this regard as there is no mention of the Covid-19 passport or certificate being ditched in the Spanish state bulletin (BOE) that focused on the cancellation of the SpTH form. 

Therefore, non-EU tourists such as Britons, Americans, Australians, Canadians or New Zealanders still have to show one of three documents to be able to enter Spain. These are: 

  • A Covid-19 vaccination certificate –  Your vaccination status must meet the Spanish authorities’ validity period requirements. If more than 270 days have passed since your initial vaccination, you need to show proof of a booster shot.
  • A negative Covid-19 test – This should be either a PCR taken within 72 hours prior of departure or an antigen test, taken within 24 hours prior of departure. 
  • A recovery certificate –  This must be dated within the last six months. You can use a medical certificate or recovery record to prove your Covid-19 status.

Face masks are also still required on planes which are bound for Spain, but you don’t have to wear one at the airport.