UPDATE: Spain changes rules on children going outside during lockdown

The Spanish government was forced to announce a further relaxation of lockdown rules for children after the initial measures provoked an angry backlash from parents. Here's what we know so far about when and why children will be allowed outside.

UPDATE: Spain changes rules on children going outside during lockdown
Photos: AFP

After five weeks kept inside it was with great relief that parents welcomed the announcement on Saturday that from April 27th, Spain’s lockdown restrictions would be loosened to allow children to go outside.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced the measure with a view to softening the blow that general confinement would be extended by another two weeks until May 10th.

Initially the conditions under which children would be allowed to leave the house were left vague, but more details were announced following a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

And then after much criticism from the public, the government offered more concessions to parents.

LATEST:  Spain's government confirms new rules for taking children outside during lockdown

Here’s what we know so far.


Initially we were told from Monday April 27th, children under the age of 14 will be allowed to leave their homes, where they have been confined since March 14th when a state of alert was declared.

But in a later press conference on Tuesday, Health Minister Salvador Illa seemed to suggest the new measures would be in place as soon as the weekend. 

Who with?

The announcement stated that children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian when they leave the house. It must only be in the company of an adult that lives within the same household as the child.

So far under the lockdown rules, a parent could only take a child on an errand with them if there was no other adult at home to care for them and they were too young to be left alone.

Maria Jesus Montero, the government spokesperson who announced the details of the new measure warned children must follow hygiene rules outside the home that is, keep a distance of two metres from other people, be careful not to touch surfaces etc, and should not leave the house if showing symptoms of the virus.

“It is the accompanying adult’s responsibility to ensure that these hygiene measures adhered to,” she said.

Will they be allowed to play outside?

The initial statement made it clear that children are not being allowed out “to play”, but rather to accompany their parents on those valid trips outside the home that are permissible under lockdown restrictions. That means, on a trip to the supermarket or pharmacy or on a visit to the ATM or bank.

They will not be allowed to visit children’s playgrounds or go to the park or beach as contact with other children is to be avoided at all costs. Initially taking children for a simple walk around the block was still banned under the guidelines.

But then parents in Spain reacted with anger describing the relaxation as “a half measure”. One reader of The Local described it as a complete joke.

There were renewed calls to let children outside to play. Across Madrid people banged pots and pans from their balconies in the usual show of protest.

The government backed down.

“This is a government that listens and next weekend I will issue an order allowing children under 14 to take walks from Sunday April 26th,” said Health Minister Salvador Illa.

So how long can they go outside for and for what activities? 

We have yet to be told the details following the government's U-turn and decision to allow children out for walks. The conditions “would be announced soon,” insisted Illa who went on to call for the public “to allow us to finish the details” of the plan, including “maximum time, distance and safety.”

Why only under 14 year olds?

The reasoning for the age limit was explained by Maria Jesus Montero, government spokesperson, after the cabinet meeting.

“Those aged between 14 and 18 are allowed to be left alone and they could already carry out activites such as going to the shop to buy bread or a newspaper and will continue to be able to do so alone. A four-year-old however cannot go out alone in the street.”

What do parents think about it?

The lifting of restrictions was keenly anticipated by the parents of the roughly 6.8 million children under 14 in Spain but some parents consulted by The Local immediately expressed frustration at the “half-measures” which prevent children from running around in the open air to expend energy.

“It’s a complete joke, It’s incredibly disappointing, we live out in the middle of nowhere we could easily go out for a walk without being seen by anyone but we have been purposely following the rules and holding on in anticipation of this,” said Tania Garcia, a mother of a four-year-old boy, who lives near A Coruña, Galicia.


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EXPLAINED: Spain’s new rules for unvaccinated non-EU tourists

Unvaccinated third-country nationals such as Americans and Britons are now allowed to go on holiday to Spain. Here are the requirements, documentation needed and other important information they should know before booking their flights to Spain. 

EXPLAINED: Spain's new rules for unvaccinated non-EU tourists

What’s the latest?

Spain has opened up to unvaccinated non-EU/Schengen tourists for the first time in more than two years.

Previously it was not possible for third-country nationals to visit Spain for non-essential reasons such as a holiday, seeing family or spending time in a second home in Spain unless they were fully vaccinated against Covid-19 (plus booster after 9 months) or recovered from the illness in the past six months. 

From May 21st 2022, unvaccinated tourists and other visitors from outside of the EU can travel to Spain if they show proof of a negative Covid-19 test, the Spanish government confirmed on Saturday. These are the same rules that apply to EU nationals and residents.

Spain’s testing requirements for non-EU/Schengen tourists apply to those aged 12 and older, children under that age are exempt from having to prove testing, vaccination or recovery.

What kind of Covid test do I need to get done to travel to Spain?

In scientific terms, Spain wants a diagnostic test that’s either a NAAT (nucleic acid amplification test, such as an RT-PCR, RT-LAMP, TMA) or a RAT (rapid antigen test).

In layman’s terms, that’s either a PCR test, which must be carried out in the 72 hours prior to departure to Spain, or an antigen test, 24 hours prior to departure.

Covid tests accepted are those authorised by the European Commission and must have been performed by healthcare professionals, therefore self-tests are not valid. 

What do I need to show to travel to Spain if I’m unvaccinated?

You need to show an official certificate or supporting document which shows the negative result of your Covid test. Your country may have a system in place that allows you to upload your negative result to an app. 

The document must be the original, in Spanish, English, French or German, and may be shown in paper or electronic format. If you can’t get it in these languages, it must be accompanied by a translation into Spanish by an official body.

The document that accredits the diagnostic test has to include the date the sample was taken, identification and contact details of the centre performing the analysis, technique used and negative result.

Spanish authorities recognise the UK’s NHS Covid Pass and others that fulfil the above criteria. 

Do I need to fill out a health control form?

This depends. Currently, 40 non-EU countries (and territories) have joined the EU Digital COVID Certificate system, based on EU equivalence decisions. 

That means that people from these nations who have a vaccination, testing or recovery certificate issued by the competent authorities of their country do not need to fill in Spain’s Travel Health form.

The countries with EU Digital Covid Certificate equivalence are Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Benin, Cabo Verde, Colombia, El Salvador, Faroe Islands, Georgia, Indonesia, Israel, Iceland, Jordan, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Panama, San Marino, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, Togo, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the Crown Dependencies (Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man), Uruguay, The Vatican and Vietnam.You can also double-check here in case more countries are added.

If your non-EU country isn’t on the list then you have to fill in the SPTH form and upload your test certificate, which gives you a QR Code you’ll be asked for at the airport. 

READ MORE: A step-by-step guide on how to fill out Spain’s Health Control Form

Do I have to wear a mask on the plane?

Yes, you will most likely be required to wear a mask on the planes to and from Spain, although you don’t have to wear one inside Spanish airports anymore.

READ MORE: What are Spain’s mask rules for travel?

Is there any other travel rule I need to know about?

If you’re not an EU citizen or resident, then you should check if you require a Schengen visa to travel to Spain, as this will depend on your nationality.

Keep in mind that you will also have to abide by other Schengen rules, such as not being able to spend more than 90 out of 180 days in Spain and other Schengen countries.

Does Spain still have domestic Covid-19 rules?

Spain has lifted the vast majority of its Covid-19 rules, so there are no longer curfews, forced closures, limits on the number of people per shop or restaurant or Covid pass requirements to gain entry to buildings. 

Masks are no longer required outdoors and there is no face covering mandate for the majority of indoor public settings, except for on public transport, in hospitals, pharmacies, other health clinics and care homes.

READ MORE: What happens when tourists get Covid-19 while on holiday in Spain?