Lifting lockdown in Spain: What changes in Phase 3?

Barcelona and Lleida are the latest provinces to advance to Phase 3.

Lifting lockdown in Spain: What changes in Phase 3?
Photo: AFP

Some 78 percent of Spain is now in Phase 3, which under the governments four stage “plan for the transition to the new normal”, Phase 3 is the final step before arriving at the new normal.

Two more provinces – that of Lleida and Barcelona – were given the go ahead to advance to Phase 3 on Thursday meaning 37 million Spaniards are now enjoying new freedoms. 

The map shows that all of Spain is now in Phase 3 except Madrid and parts of Castilla y Leon which remain in Phase 2. 


It means that your province or health authority zone has already successfully advanced from the preparatory Phase 0, through Phase 1 and 2 to arrive at Phase 3.

The main differences between the last two phases of the de-escalation plan are the increased limit on capacity at bars, restaurants, shops and cultural venues and that even bigger groups of people are allowed to gather.

The occupancy on a terrace of a bar or restaurant rises from 50 percent in Phase 2 to 75 percent in Phase 3.

While bars are now allowed to open inside  with 50 percent maximum capacity although they must have safety measures in place that include hand sanitizer at the door, table service and being able to maintain a safe social distance of 2 metres between people who you don’t live with.

READ MORE: What changes about life in Spain under the 'new normal'


The number of people allowed to meet socially has risen from 15 under Phase 2 to up to 20 people during Phase 3.

The timetable which gave different age groups specific hours in which to go outside and exercise has been eliminated in the final phase. There are no restrictions on when you can leave the house and for what purpose.

Group sports (and that includes exercise classes at the gym) can be practised between up to 20 people as long as they are non-contact sports.

Casinos, gaming halls and betting shops can open with a reduced capacity of 50 percent and maximum of 50 people.

Youth activities such as summer camps can carry on with a third of the usual capacity and a maximum of 80 people if inside and 50 percent and a maximum of 200 people if outdoors.

Amusement parks, zoos, aquariums and that sort of thing can open with 50 percent of capacity outside and 30 percent inside.

Tour groups can restart their guided tours with up to 20 people.

All shops can now open regardless of the size including shopping malls as long as capacity does not exceed 50 percent.

Cinemas, theatres, shows, concerts can all open but with 50 percent occupancy and a chair’s space between each person not from the same household with up to 80 people indoors and 200 people in the openair.

Weddings, baptism and first communions can now go ahead with 75 percent of the venue’s capacity and up to 75 people when indoors and 150 people when outdoors..

Libraries, museums and exhibition spaces can welcome 50 percent of the usual capacity.

Hotels can now open their common areas including spas for up to 50 percent usual capacity.

Work conferences can have up to 80 attendees.

What other rules are in place?

Masks are compulsory for all those over the age of six in public places and places open to the public where it is impossible to maintain the 2 metre social distancing rule.

However there are exceptons for those who have respiratory, health or behaviourial problems that make the wearing of a mask impossible or if you are eating or drinking.  

READ MORE: Face masks are now mandatory in Spain: What you need to know

What next? 

The Spanish government has decided that regional authorities will be given the responsibility for deciding when their provinces can transition from Phase 3 to the “new normal” which means it could be possible before June 21st when the state of alarm officially ends. 

Once transition has been decided, travel between provinces that have also advanced beyond Phase 3 should be allowed. 

READ MORE: OPINION: What will Spain be like to live and work in after the coronavirus crisis?


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

Spain has dropped most Covid-19 restrictions, but do foreign residents in Spain travelling back to the Spanish territory from an EU or non-EU country still need to show proof of vaccination, testing or recovery in September and October 2022?

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

The Covid-19 pandemic no longer dominates daily life or travel in Spain.

In recent days, the Spanish government has scrapped the Spth health control form for all travellers and soon it will stop carrying out temperature and visual checks on non-EU arrivals

That’s not to say that all of Spain’s Covid-19 travel restrictions have been lifted. Non-EU tourists still need to show Covid-19 documents to be allowed into Spain, and on planes that are bound for Spain passengers must wear face masks

But how about for foreign residents in Spain who are travelling back to the Spanish territory after a holiday abroad or a visit to their country of origin? 

For example, would a UK or US national who legally resides in Spain and who has just spent a couple of weeks back in their country of origin need to show proof of vaccination, testing or recovery when they arrived back in Spain?

The question is not so much whether you’re a resident in Spain, but rather which country you’re travelling to Spain from. 

If it’s a non-EU/Schengen country, then you technically have to show Covid documents. If you’re completely unvaccinated or more than 270 days have passed since your last Covid-19 vaccine, you’ll need to present proof of a negative PCR or antigen test. That’s irregardless of whether you’re a Spanish national or foreign resident in Spain. 

Do residents still need Covid documents to travel back to Spain
Screenshot from showing how an unvaccinated UK national who is resident in Spain needs to get a Covid test before arrival in Spain if travelling from a non-EU country such as the United Kingdom.

If on the other hand you’re returning to Spain from another EU/Schengen country, then you will not have to show a Covid-19 certificate or equivalent document. Again, that’s irregardless of whether you’re a Spanish national, a resident of Spain (EU or non-EU national) or even a non-EU tourist who was already in the EU/Schengen Area before visiting Spain.

do residents need covid documents to travel back to spain
Screenshot from showing how an unvaccinated US national who is resident in Spain doesn’t need to show Covid documents or get tested before arrival in Spain if travelling from another EU country.

This is according to Spain’s website, where on its homepage section there is a section which allows you to choose “origin” (city/country you’re travelling from), your nationality and your vaccination status. 

When you fill in the categories and click through, it tells you whether or not you need to get a Covid-19 test. 

It also states your country of residence, even though you’re not given the option of filling this in (although, we reiterate, residence isn’t what counts). 

Are Spanish airport officials still rigorously checking the Covid documents of arrivals from outside of the EU/Schengen Area? No. 

Whether or not you get asked is up to chance. Some travellers have said they have been asked to show proof, whereas others have not.

“I went to the United Kingdom, vaccinated with the third dose more than 290 days ago (20 days over), so I needed a negative diagnostic test to return to Spain. I got a PCR in London, it cost me €80, and in Barcelona I didn’t even get asked for it”, one Spanish national wrote on Twitter.

Keep in mind as well that if you’re travelling back to Spain from a non-EU country, but you have a layover in another EU/Schengen country first before reaching Spain, it will be that country’s rules that apply in terms having to show Covid-19 documents. You will already have entered the EU/Schengen Area before reaching your final destination (Spain), so you will not be asked to provide proof of Covid certificates when you land in Spain.

Is there a risk of being refused entry as a resident if you don’t have any Covid-19 documents upon arrival in Spain and you get asked to provide them? 

The worst-case scenario is that you will be required to take a Covid test there and then at the airport. Spain has allowed legal Spanish residents (whether they’re EU or non-EU nationals) to return home to Spain even at the worst stages of the pandemic when travel was heavily restricted.

So, if you’re travelling back to Spain as a resident from a non-EU country, what Covid proof do you technically have to be able to show? Only one of the following:

  • 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 to departure, or an antigen test, taken within 24 hours prior to 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. 

You can prove the above by showing a digital or paper certificate issued by the relevant authorities of the country in which you were vaccinated. If you were vaccinated in Spain, this can be Spain’s EU Digital COVID Certificate.