After almost a hundred days of travel restrictions under Spain’s state of alarm, the country opened its borders to all Schengen countries and the UK on June 21st.
Spain also lifted travel restrictions for 15 non-Schengen countries on July 1st (revised later to July 4th), deemed “safe” according to the EU’s recommendations.
These are Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay and provisionally China.
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The Spanish government has been eagerly aiming to relaunch the country’s highly important tourism industry, which represents more than 12 percent of Spain’s GDP and provided more than two million jobs prior to the pandemic.
But having endured one of the worst Covid-19 infection rates and death tolls in Europe – a health crisis which is now under control but threatened by new outbreaks – there will be a number of rules and guidelines in place for foreign visitors.
What controls can I expect at Spanish airports?
From July 1st, tourists arriving at Spanish airports must undergo three primary controls by local health authorities before entering the country, as confirmed by Spain’s Minister of Health Salvador Illa at a press conference on July 1st.
There will be no PCR tests carried out on all passengers arriving in Spain as had previously been suggested by the Canary regional government.
It's also worth noting that face mask usage is obligatory in all airports in Spain– both in outdoor and indoor spaces if you can't maintain a safety distance of two metres – so make sure you have one handy to wear upon arrival.
Health document to fill in
Travelers will have to fill out a document before they start their trip, with questions including where they flew from, if they have had Covid-19 and other related information.
The FCS form has to be completed electronically here.
According to Spain’s Health Ministry, there is also an app where this information can be filled in, although it currently only seems to be available for Android users.
It is mandatory to both fill out and sign the FCS form associated with your trip, regardless of your nationality, age or any other consideration.
It has to be completed by each of the passengers who will be responsible for ensuring that the information provided is true and accurate.
In the event that the passenger is a minor or a dependent/disabled person, the form can be filled in by their guardian, who will again be responsible for the veracity of the information provided.
Tourists will also have to provide the address of the accommodation where they’re staying in Spain in order to be reachable if any type of problem occurs.
Once the form is completed, the passenger gets a QR code, which must be presented upon arrival in Spain.
If you haven’t been able to fill in the form before you arrive at the airport – don’t worry – a transitional period has been set until July 31st which will allow you to fill out the form there and then in person.
As expected, Spanish airports will be equipped with thermal imaging cameras and airport staff will use non-contact thermometers to measure travellers’ temperatures as they arrive.
If your temperature is higher than 37.5 degrees Celsius it could be considered to be related to Covid-19.
No personal data or images captured by thermal imaging cameras will be stored and passenger privacy is guaranteed.
Each passenger will be checked for any apparent and visual physical symptom that they have Covid-19.
A total of 600 extra airport staff members, 150 of whom are doctors and nurses, have been initially recruited to help with these checks at airports across Spain.
What happens if I don’t meet these requirements?
If there’s a problem with any of these three checks, you will have to undergo a medical examination at the airport itself in order to determine whether the evidence points to you having Covid-19.
This will include a new taking of your temperature and an evaluation of your clinical and epidemiological status.
Spanish health authorities haven’t disclosed whether a PCR test will be carried out at the airport but if there is a suspicion that you are infected, you will be referred to a local health centre and there a PCR test is likely.
What should I do if I develop symptoms after I've arrived in Spain?
If you develop a temperature, a cough, a sore throat or any of the other symptoms associated with Covid-19, you should stay at your accommodation and call the emergency number of the region in which you are staying.
If your symptoms worsen, you should dial Spain's general emergency number 112 and ask for an ambulance.
Should I take out travel insurance before I travel?
If you're from an EU country (including the UK until December 31st 2020), you should get a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to access Spain's public healthcare, in case you need emergency medical assistance during your trip.
Tourists from outside of Europe who need a Schengen visa to travel to Spain have to take out travel insurance already and should check with their insurer if their policy covers Covid-related medical costs.
What do I need to know about being a tourist in Spain?
The most important thing to remember is that you will be expected to wear a face mask in public places, both outdoors and indoors, if you can’t keep a safety distance of 1.5 metres from other people.
Face masks are compulsory in all shops and supermarkets and you will be required to disinfect your hands with the hand sanitiser they supply at the entrance of their premises.
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When it comes to restaurants and bars, you will be allowed to take your mask off once you sit down at your table.
Smoking in terraces and shared public spaces has been discouraged by Spain’s Health Ministry but not outright banned.
Almost all beaches in Spain are currently open but regional authorities are employing different measures to monitor overcrowding, including cordoning off or temporarily closing beaches where the safety distance isn’t being met.
What about the guidelines for staying in hotels and other accommodation in Spain?
Back in May, the Spanish government drafted a series of recommendations for Spain’s hotel industry to be able to reopen to tourists with the maximum amount of safety measures in place.
These include limiting the number of people in communal areas, encouraging card over cash payment, more regular and thorough room service, cancelling all-you-can-eat buffets and spacing out eating times between guests.
Hotels have the freedom to implement other measures but there is no indication yet that guest numbers will be limited or that access to swimming pools and other popular outdoor facilities will be staggered.
It’s recommendable to get in touch with your accommodation beforehand if you want to find out what specific safety and hygiene measures they have in place as this will vary between accommodation.