Spain reopens its border with Portugal after three and a half months

Spain lifted travel restrictions and border controls with its neighbour Portugal on Wednesday July 1st as the two countries also began welcoming tourists from 15 “safe” countries from outside of the EU.

Spain reopens its border with Portugal after three and a half months
Photo: AFP

Travel restrictions between Spain and Portugal have finally been lifted, ten days after the Iberian nations resumed travel with all other Schengen countries. 

The land border between the countries, the longest in Europe, had remained closed since March 17th when Spain first entered lockdown, with the exception of nine border posts that stayed open for returning residents and cross-border workers.

It was the Portuguese government which pushed for its land border with Spain to remain closed until July 1st, reasoning that “it made no sense” to open the border with its neighbouring country if it still had regional restrictions on mobility.

Before the pandemic, around 22,000 vehicles crossed the land border between Spain and Portugal every day.

To commemorate the reopening, Spain’s King Felipe VI and Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez met with Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and Prime Minister António Costa to symbolically cross the border between Badajoz in Extremadura and Caia in Portugal.

Portugal, one of the countries in Europe which managed to keep Covid-19 infections under control during the height of Europe’s pandemic, has seen a worrying increase in new infections in recent days around the Lisbon metropolitan belt, prompting authorities to introduce a lockdown in 19 of the city's 24 districts. 

This has made Portugal the second country in the EU with the highest rate of infections per inhabitant behind Sweden, leading some to question whether the border with Spain should in fact be reopened.

The number of infections in Spain has also risen since the state of alarm ended on June 21st, although the Spanish government has insisted that new outbreaks are under control and that tourism and travel should resume. 

July 1st also marks the first day of the restart of travel for Spain and Portugal with 14 non-Schengen countries: Algeria, Australia, Canada, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay, Georgia and China. 

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US to end Covid testing requirement for travellers from Europe

Authorities in the USA have announced the end of the Covid-testing requirement for arrivals from Europe, meaning that fully vaccinated people will soon be able to travel between Europe and the US without needing pre-travel tests.

US to end Covid testing requirement for travellers from Europe

Most of Europe had dropped the testing requirement for fully-vaccinated arrivals in the spring, but the US has maintained the requirement to show proof of a negative test for all arrivals.

However on Friday, the Biden administration announced that it would not renew the testing requirement.

The new rule is expected to come into effect at 12.01 Sunday EDT, until then passengers will still need to show a negative Covid test before they can board a plane to the US.

The US currently bars unvaccinated travellers from entry – although this does not apply to US citizens, US residents or those travelling for essential reasons – there was no announcement on lifting this restriction. 

The CDC said that testing requirements could be reinstated if new variants of Covid emerge, and added that it continues to recommend pre-travel testing. 

Covid travel rules vary between individual countries in Europe, but most countries now only require pre-departure tests for unvaccinated travellers. Check the rules of the country you are travelling to for full details. 

To be counted as ‘fully vaccinated’ travellers must have received both doses of an EMA-approved vaccine – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca (or a single dose of Janssen).

If their vaccination was more than nine months ago, they need a booster shot in order to be considered fully vaccinated – people who have had a booster do not need a second, even if their booster shot was more than nine months ago.